The risks involved with long term alcohol abuse can be deadly.
Because alcohol is a toxin, frequently drinking heavy amounts of alcohol is devastating to many important organs in the body including your brain, heart, liver, pancreas, and immune system.
Several forms of cancer are also linked to the long term effects of alcohol abuse, including cancer in the neck and head, liver, breast, esophagus, and other areas that are still being discovered.
Heavy alcohol abuse and an addiction to alcohol can even be life-threatening – an average of 88,000 deaths are reported annually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States.
If you or a loved one is in need of help with addiction, call 949.569.7517 today to speak with a treatment specialist.
Long Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse on the Brain
The brain is one of the areas hit hardest by long-term alcohol abuse. Heavy alcohol use and binge drinking can cause memory blackouts and lapses in the short term, but in the long term, brain damage is possible.
Some of the most notable long term effects of alcohol abuse on the brain is thiamine deficiency which is common among alcoholics. It is a result of poor overall nutrition. If alcohol abuse continues, there is a risk of forming more serious problems such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS). Symptoms of the two-part syndrome include mental confusion, eye-movement disturbances, severe memory problems, and learning difficulties among other symptoms.
The liver is a well-known organ affected by alcohol abuse. Liver inflammation can occur, and other problems associated with it, such as:
• Alcoholic hepatitis
The long term effects of alcohol abuse can have a significant impact on the heart. The heart is particularly susceptible to damage from too much alcohol, even from a single heavy-drinking occasion.
Some of the problems that the heart develops from long-term alcohol abuse include:
• The drooping and stretching of the heart muscle, known as cardiomyopathy
• An irregular heartbeat, known as arrhythmia
• High blood pressure
Cancer Caused by Long Term Alcohol Abuse
The National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services lists the frequent, heavy consumption of alcohol as a high-risk factor for developing cancer in several parts of the body. New research is still being done that are linking alcohol to cancer in ever-more areas of the body.
Roughly 19,500 of the deaths caused by cancer in 2009 were linked to the long-term effects of alcohol abuse. Cancer is known to be caused by alcohol in areas of the body including the liver, breasts, esophagus, head, neck, and the colorectal area (colon and rectum).
What Affects the Likelihood of Long-Term Damage?
Since alcohol is a toxin, even just one episode of heavy drinking can cause damage. However, when a person drinks a lot on a frequent basis, the risk of damage is compounded.
The factors that appear the have the biggest influence on the likelihood of long-term damage to the many important organs in the body include:
• The general health status of the person
• How much alcohol the person drinks
• How often they drink heavy amounts of alcohol
• The age that alcohol abuse started at and for how long the alcohol abuse has carried on for
• Prenatal alcohol exposure
• The age, gender, and family history of alcohol use disorder
A person who is a frequent heavy drinker may have a mild to severe alcohol use disorder – the term that the medical profession uses to describe alcoholism. Since addiction is a serious mental disease that often makes stopping alone extremely difficult and even dangerous, professional help should be found to prevent any further damage that alcohol abuse may cause.
To find help in Orange County, contact us at Dana Point Rehab Campus by dialing 949.569.7517 today to take advantage of the thorough assessment that helps our healthcare professionals to personalize a treatment program to suit your exact treatment needs.