While drinking alcohol in moderation doesn’t pose a serious threat, there are many health risks of chronic alcoholism. Health experts say that while science shows there are possible benefits to drinking in moderation, not everyone should drink alcohol.
For those prone to alcoholism, the risks of chronic alcoholism outweigh any possible health benefits, indicating that users should eliminate alcohol use. Moderate alcohol consumption means one drink a day for women and up to two drinks per day for men. A drink is the equivalent of 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of 80 proof spirits, or 5 ounces of wine.
Chronic alcoholism occurs when a person drinks excessive amounts on a regular basis. Alcoholics have the inability to stop drinking and may become tolerant. They often become physically dependent upon alcohol and need more to attain the same effects. Alcoholics may encounter legal problems stemming from drinking. Chronic alcoholism poses threats to social standing, can trouble relationships, cause permanent damage to the body, and is destructive to mental health.
The Risks of Chronic Alcoholism on Mental Health
The risks of chronic alcoholism are destructive to emotional and mental health. By nature, alcohol is a depressant. While some may exhibit outgoing behavior when drinking, or lose inhibitions, alcohol in fact depresses the central nervous system. Those prone to mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression may make these conditions worse through drinking.
In some cases, underlying mental health issues contribute to alcoholism. Untreated clinical depression may cause a person to turn to alcohol for relief. Unfortunately, this method is flawed and drinking alcohol creates more problems rather than eliminates them. Studies show that as many as 1/3 of alcoholics also have underlying mental health issues. This can make recovery more difficult as alcoholics need to treat the alcohol dependency as well as mental illness. Those with mental health issues should avoid drinking entirely. Alcoholism can increase thoughts of suicide, depression, and cause people to behave irrationally. Some who are prone to violence may get into fights or engage in gun violence.
Diseases and Alcohol
Not only is alcoholism a disease, chronic drinking can also lead to other illnesses. Those who drink excessively are at risk of developing serious conditions that may have fatal consequences. Due to large amounts of alcohol passing through the liver, diseases such as cirrhosis and liver disease are prevalent. Women who drink while pregnant are at risk for passing diseases to their fetuses.
One of the risks of chronic alcoholism is that it can lead to an increase in certain cancers including breast, liver, and stomach. Risk of heart disease and heart failure is increased due to alcoholism. Other areas of the body that may show signs of disease include the brain, blood, and the endocrine system. Diseases such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s are increased. Alcoholism may be linked to anemia, stroke, and pancreatitis. While some risk of developing diseases are decreased due to moderate drinking, chronic alcoholism increases health risks.
Alcohol Damages the Body
If it’s not enough that alcohol leads to chronic disease and addiction, it is also damaging to many bodily organs. Alcohol is damaging to the brain. Chronic alcohol abuse affects neurotransmitters in the brain that cause emotional and behavioral changes. Long-term alcohol abuse can result in brain cell shrinkage. In addition to brain damage caused by directly drinking alcohol, additional brain damage may occur due to liver disease. Alcohol can lead to liver disease. In turn, liver disease produces large amounts of ammonia that further damages the brain. Alcohol contributes to hepatic encephalopathy, or an alcohol-related brain disorder that can be fatal.
In addition to the brain, alcohol damages the liver. The liver helps filter toxins out of the body. When the liver is damaged due to alcohol abuse, the body becomes prone to infection and disease. Alcohol abuse causes the liver to become fatty, preventing it from working in optimum capacity. A damaged liver is prone to hepatitis. Chronic alcohol can lead to cirrhosis, liver disease, and liver failure.
The heart is at risk of permanent damage due to chronic alcoholism. Alcohol directly influences heartbeat rate and may result in a heart that beats quickly. Alcohol abuse may also produce an irregular heartbeat or arrhythmia. Alcoholism can result in heart disease, stroke, and hypertension.
Treatment for Alcoholism
As the most common substance for abuse in the United States, it’s not surprisingly if you have a loved one who suffers from chronic alcoholism. At Morningside Recovery, we offer professional and comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment and alcoholism rehab services to help people overcome their dependencies to the substance. To learn more about our programs and prevent the damages that the risks of chronic alcoholism can cause, call us today at 855-631-2135.