It’s estimated that approximately 15 million Americans struggle with alcoholism. This devastating addiction ruins lives causes health problems, and it can even cause serious injuries or death. Every year, roughly 599,000 people are injured under the influence of alcohol, and 1,700 die. If you suspect that you or someone you love is suffering from alcoholism, it’s essential to be aware of the effects.
Alcohol is a neurotoxin. When consumed frequently and in large enough quantities, it causes damage to the brain and nerves. Over time, the effects on a person’s cognitive function become very apparent. They may become forgetful, have difficulty performing basic mental tasks and are prone to confusion. Mood also suffers. Depression, anxiety, and irritability are common among alcoholics, and these effects tend to feed the cycle of alcohol abuse. In advanced cases, motor control is impacted. Severe or long-time alcoholics often have tremors in the head or hands, which is caused by nervous system damage.
Health problems are likely with long-term heavy drinking. These can include high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, acid reflux, sleep apnea and digestive disorders. The liver is also frequently affected. The liver processes and detoxifies alcohol using enzymes, but this is a heavy strain. Over time, problems like cirrhosis, fatty liver disease, liver cancer and liver failure can develop. Alcohol abuse also increases the risk of colorectal, stomach and estrogen-dependent breast cancer. It may also increase the risk of prostate cancer, but only with very heavy consumption.
Effects on Everyday Life
The effects of alcoholism on everyday life can have some of the most severe immediate consequences. For instance, some alcoholics may go to work hung over or under the influence, or they might fail to go into work at all after a night of drinking. Mood problems like irritability and the behavior problems that come with it can cause conflicts with bosses, supervisors or co-workers, which could lead to being fired. Unsurprisingly, this can have a detrimental effect on a person’s financial situation.
Interpersonal relationships also frequently suffer. Once alcohol begins taking over a person’s life, they often avoid social activities that don’t involve alcohol. They may become increasingly isolated from family and friends, and many acquire a new circle of friends who are also alcoholics, which helps to encourage and facilitate their habit. Relationships with a significant other become strained, and domestic violence toward spouses and children is a common occurrence among alcoholics.
Getting Alcoholism Help
The vast majority of alcoholics are not able to overcome their addiction on their own. Most who often try relapse when stress hits or the effects of withdrawal become too great. For this reason, it’s necessary to seek help from a qualified inpatient treatment center. These facilities provide a controlled and medically monitored environment, as well as group therapy and a variety of other beneficial programs, to help addicts effectively resist and overcome alcoholism. If you’re struggling with alcoholism, enrolling in a treatment facility can help you get your life back.