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The Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Researchers have volumes of information concerning the effects of alcohol abuse, as it is the most common substance abuse in the United States today. Despite the illuminating data on the seriousness of alcohol abuse, the problem persists, and new cases develop daily.

For many people, alcohol abuse is unintentional, with social acceptance of drinking alcohol recreationally. Unfortunately, addiction continues to be widespread, although it is easily recognizable, and the effects are well-known and understood. 

One of the most painful effects alcohol has is changing the personality and behavior of those suffering from an alcohol use disorder. Raising awareness is potentially life-saving, and understanding how to identify and address the adverse effects of this illness is critical to help create sober living

Alcohol Abuse Overview

Making a blanket statement concerning the amount of alcohol consumption required to result in an alcohol use disorder is impossible. Every person has a different metabolism and processes alcohol according to specific personal factors. However, the effects of alcohol abuse can impact overall health by leading to chronic disease, organ damage, health problems, and death.

Psychological and physical deterioration is evident to friends and family, but still, alcohol dependence is challenging to overcome independently and distances those closest to its victim.

The reason why people drink alcohol can be a determining factor in whether an addiction could develop. The effects of alcohol abuse typically come to light through how alcohol affects a person’s lifestyle and relationships. 

Trends develop, such as binge drinking in teenagers and young adults, where socially it’s acceptable to drink large amounts of alcohol. In reality, those who resort to binge drinking, identified by The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) as an emerging trend called high-intensity drinking, have underlying issues that alcohol use helps to numb or hide for a while. “High-intensity drinking is the consumption of alcohol at levels that are two or more times the gender-specific drinking thresholds.” 

For women, 4 or more drinks per session, and for men, 5 or more are thresholds, but over 15 drinks a week is excessive. Life issues such as excessive stressors, relationship problems, financial trouble, precarious occupational situations, and unresolved emotions and feelings can be the initial reasons for drinking alcohol. Unfortunately, projecting how habitual drinking patterns become uncontrollable addictions is challenging.

For those who lose control of their drinking habit, tolerance builds for alcohol, and what once required one or two drinks to feel more okay could transpire into three, four, or five drinks in a short period. As tolerance increases, dependence will occur, brain chemistry depends on alcohol use to maintain, and physical factors follow, showing the effects of alcohol abuse. 

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

The short-term effects of alcohol abuse differ for each person because everyone metabolizes alcohol differently. It is easy to identify the short-term effects because they are not the usual behavior people exhibit.

Additionally, it may be challenging to pinpoint the cause of behavioral changes, but if alcohol is in hand, it’s apparent. Dangerous situations can develop once this level of change occurs. 

Short-term effects of alcohol abuse could include the following:

  • Euphoria or giddiness
  • Change in mood and impulsive behavior
  • Lowered inhibitions and lack of focus
  • Difficulty in making decisions
  • Slowed or slurred speech
  • Nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Loss of consciousness and blackouts

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Untreated, the long-term effects of alcohol abuse are significant and can be challenging or impossible to reverse. All of the body’s major organs are affected by excessive long-term drinking. Relationships suffer, and lifestyles take a drastic change for the worse.

Without long term treatment for an alcohol use disorder, serious complications can occur, resulting in cancer, delirium tremens, trauma, or death. 

The following symptoms occur from the long-term abuse of alcohol:

  • Heart issues (high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat and stroke)
  • Liver damage (inflammation, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis)
  • Kidney damage points to kidney failure and chronic kidney disease
  • Pancreatic problems that include inflammation, swelling of blood vessels that hinder proper digestion
  • Immune system problems that could lead to tuberculosis and pneumonia
  • Cancer (breast, mouth, esophagus, throat, larynx, colon, stomach, rectum, and pancreas)

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

The effects of alcohol abuse can occur when an individual attempts to stop drinking or decreases the amount of alcohol they use. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can occur within a few hours of not drinking.

In many cases, individuals who want to stop drinking, cannot withstand the intensity of the symptoms that occur and begin drinking again. Alcohol withdrawal symptoms affect an individual both mentally and physically and can be life-threatening. 

Mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms occur just hours after the last drink and can include the following:

  • Anxiety and shakiness
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sweating profusely
  • Insomnia

More severe or intense withdrawal symptoms begin within 12-48 hours of the last drink:

  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Racing heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Confusion and heavy sweating
  • Delirium tremens

Delirium Tremens

The most severe symptoms of ethanol withdrawal are delirium tremens. Delirium tremens can be life-threatening if not medically managed. Trained professionals can identify the intense symptoms and put a plan of action together to treat the DTs, should it occur during detoxification. Without treatment, the outcome could be adverse and includes the possibility of death.

Symptoms of delirium tremens include:

  • Visual and auditory hallucinations
  • Whole body tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Diaphoresis 
  • Hypertension
  • Seizures
  • Agitation and global confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Fever
  • Autonomic hyperactivity

Treatment and Detox for Alcohol Abuse

Treatment for an alcohol use disorder begins with the desire to seek help and treatment. Once an individual decides to attend treatment, it is vital to find a center offering medically monitored detox from alcohol.

Options for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is another essential program to look for. It is vitally important to enlist the services of a professionally qualified center to detox and receive treatment to prevent relapse and medical complications.  

Get Medically Monitored Detox for Alcoholism in Tennessee

Alcohol use disorder is a severe addiction with a complex withdrawal process. Freeman Recovery Center in Tennessee provides medically monitored detoxification from alcohol and continued treatment for recovery from addiction. Offering a number of options to meet the patient’s needs, Freeman Recovery Center is aware of the challenges each individual faces.

Contact the center for additional information and to schedule an assessment today. 


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