Complications of alcoholism and alcohol abuse
Complications of alcoholism arise after long periods of heavy drinking or binge drinking, even though usually, drinking alcohol initially elevates the person's mood. A chronic drinker's nervous system will become depressed and the drinker will become sedated by alcohol. Alcohol may undermine a person's judgment; it can lower inhibitions and alter the drinker's thoughts, emotions and general behavior. Heavy regular drinking can have a serious effect on a person's ability to coordinate his/her muscles and speak properly. Heavy binge drinking could cause the patient to go into coma.
Eventually complications of alcoholism such as these can arise with, regular heavy drinking:
- Fatigue - the patient is tired most of the time.
- Memory loss - especially the patient's short-term memory.
- Eye muscles - the eye muscles can become significantly weaker.
- Liver diseases - the patient has a considerably higher chance of developing hepatitis, and cirrhosis. Cirrhosis of the liver is an irreversible and progressive condition.
- Gastrointestinal complications - the patient can develop gastritis, or pancreas damage. These problems also seriously undermine the body's ability to digest food, absorb certain vitamins, and produce hormones which regulate metabolism.
- Hypertension - regular heavy drinking invariably raises the person's blood pressure.
- Heart problems - regular heaving drinking can lead to cardiomyopathy (damaged heart muscle), heart failure, and stroke.
- Diabetes- alcoholics have a very high risk of developing diabetes type 2. Patients who have Diabetes will invariably have serious complications if they are regular heavy drinkers of alcohol. Alcohol prevents the release of glucose from the liver, causing hypoglycemia. A person with Diabetes is already taking insulin to lower his/her blood sugar levels - hypoglycemia could be devastating.
- Menstruation - alcoholism will usually stop menstruation or disrupt it.
- Erectile Dysfunction - alcoholic men are much more likely to have problems getting an erection, or sustaining one.
- Fetal alcohol syndrome - women who abuse alcohol during their pregnancy are much more likely to have babies with birth defects, including a small head, heart problems, shortened eyelids, as well as developmental and cognitive problems.
- Thinning bones - alcoholics invariably suffer from thinning of the bones because alcohol interferes with the production of new bone. This means an increased risk of fractures.
- Nervous system problems - alcoholism often causes numbness in the extremities, dementia and confused/disordered thinking.
- Cancer - alcoholics have a much higher risk of developing several cancers, including cancer of the mouth, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum, breast, prostate and pharynx.
An international study found that the key causes of bowel cancer are alcohol and smoking.
In fact, even moderate alcohol consumption is linked to a higher incidence of cancer among women, a study found. Another study found that consuming just two or more drinks per day could increase a person's risk of pancreatic cancer by about 22%.
- Accidents - alcoholics are vulnerable to injuries from falls, car crashes, being run over, etc. The NIH says that over half of all American traffic deaths are alcohol-related.
- Domestic abuse - alcohol is a major factor in spouse beating, child abuse, and conflicts with neighbors.
- Work (school) problems - employment problems, unemployment, school problems, are often alcohol-related.
- Mental illness - alcohol abuse can cause mental illness and make existing mental illnesses worse.
- Problems with the law - the percentage of alcoholics who end up in court or in prison is significantly higher compared to the rest of the population.
This is a good overview of the complications of Alcoholism, for more information check out Addicted Kids; Our Lost Generation.