PHYSICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL

According to the WHO, “alcohol consumption is a psychoactive substance with dependence-producing properties that has been in existence and has been used extensively by different cultures for centuries”. The misuse of alcohol is always accompanied by a high burden of diseases and other physical, social and economic consequences.

Consuming alcohol in a moderate proportion isn’t an issue, but excessive drinking causes various health issues that may get you hospitalized. WHO even reveals that 3 million deaths globally each year are all attributed to alcohol. That’s about 5.3% of all total deaths. In 2019, 24,110 people died due to alcoholic liver diseases in the US alone, not forgetting the 39,043 persons who died of an alcohol-induced death. This number is gradually increasing as this substance tends to be so addictive.

With all this in view, we carried out a deep research, producing an article that emphasizes the dangers of alcohol to our physical and mental health.

What Are The Effects of Alcohol Consumption?

Alcohol consumption has three main effects on the human body. They include;

  • Short-term effects
  • Long-term effects
  • Alcohol Poisoning

What Are The Short-term Effects of Alcohol On The Body?

Even when a person isn’t abusing alcohol daily, they are still prone to experiencing its short-term effects on their brain’s functioning and body as a whole. The human liver can metabolize about one standard drink of alcohol per hour. This feature depends on various factors like the person’s age, weight, gender, health status and overall liver function. When you consume more than one standard drink of alcohol per hour, your liver gets worked up already and can’t metabolize the alcohol efficiently. This then leads to intoxication, which raises an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC) with each drink consumed. The short-term effects of alcohol can be severe, like vomiting or fainting. Other effects include;

  • Loss of self co-ordination
  • Mood swings
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Dull vision
  • Reduced body temperature
  • Low inhibitions

What Are The Long-term Effects Of Alcohol on The Body?

Overconsumption or, rather, abuse of alcohol over time can harm both our physical and mental health. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), alcohol consumption poses a risk factor for more than 200 diseases and injury conditions, including liver damage, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. However, the long term effects of alcohol abuse include;

  • Severe memory loss
  • Difficulty learning
  • Liver fibrosis
  • Alcohol hepatitis
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Mouth, larynx, breast, liver, colorectal or oesophagal cancer
  • Reduction in grey matter and white matter in the brain

What are the Effects Of Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning is a condition whereby the body has consumed a large amount of alcohol in a short period than the liver can metabolize. Excessive or Binge drinking can cause alcohol poisoning. The effects of this condition are so severe that it can even lead to death in some cases. Notable signs and symptoms of alcohol poisoning include;

  • Vomiting
  • Dry and pale skin
  • Hypothermia
  • Unconsciousness
  • Cyanosis
  • Slowed breathing
  • Confusion

With the severe effects of alcohol poisoning, you should call on any local authorities or 911 whenever you feel someone is experiencing this condition as it is very deadly and can lead to total brain damage and death.

What Are the Effects of Alcohol On the Various Body Systems?

Alcoholism and Binge drinking are associated with severe health issues, including death. It affects different parts and organs of the body severely. Given below are some ways alcohol affects different parts of the body.

Digestive System

Alcohol weakens the linings of your stomach and fosters the production of stomach acid, which may lead to stomach ulcers. It can also obstruct the processes of nutrient breakdown, absorption, transportation, storage and excretion. This may lead to certain nutrient deficiencies in the body.

Reproductive System

Overconsumption of alcohol can affect your reproductive health. It can cause irregular menstruation, a drop in the fertility rate in men and women, and erectile dysfunction. Pregnant women who can’t control their urge for alcohol during pregnancy are likely to experience miscarriage, stillbirth, or give birth to a baby suffering from fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD).

Musculoskeletal System

Overconsumption of alcohol can affect the level of vitamin D production which is needed for calcium absorption. This leads to a calcium imbalance in the body. Calcium is responsible for maintaining healthy bones. A deficiency of this nutrient may increase the risk of osteoporosis (a condition whereby the bones become weakened, giving a high risk of bone fracture that causes pain and disability).

Liver

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause liver inflammation and scarring. This may lead to severe conditions like fibrosis, cirrhosis, liver cancer, and alcoholic hepatitis.

Pancreas

Alcohol abuse can also affect the pancreas as it fosters the pancreatic production of harmful substances that lead to pancreatitis.

Cardiovascular system

Excessive alcohol consumption and Binge drinking can cause anaemia. It may also affect your cardiovascular health as it’s related to stroke, high blood pressure, heart attacks, cardiomyopathy (slacked heart muscles), difficulty in regulating blood and irregular heartbeat.

What are The Psychological Effects of Alcohol Abuse?

Talking about the mind and brain here, alcohol acts as a form of a depressant to the Central Nervous System. Depending on the risk factors, Alcohol abuse affects your thinking, feeling, and emotions either in the long term or the short term.

Psychological alcohol abuse causes;

·         Mental Health Issues

Alcohol drinking can affect your mental health. It leaves you dull and dumb with high difficulty remembering things. Confusion, unconsciousness, reduced inhibitions, and lethargic reaction times set in.

In addition, binge drinking and alcohol abuse have also proven to be risk factors for mental issues like high depression and schizophrenia. These disorders may increase your risk of being susceptible to other alcohol-related issues.

·         Impaired Functions

Alcohol tends to suppress most inhibitory parts of the brain, giving you a less anxious and more exciting feel after consumption. You may have difficulty breathing at the normal rate. Most times, you tend to speak out of point as your thoughts, memory, and movement would be heavily affected.

·         Alcohol-Induced Psychiatric Syndromes

Chronic alcohol abuse causes various alcohol-induced psychiatric syndromes (APS) like psychotic disorders, bipolar disorders, depressive disorders, sleep disorders, and schizophrenia. These disorders can, however, increase the risks of alcohol-related issues.

With all these effects attributed to alcohol, I guess you don’t need anyone to tell you that quitting with immediate effect would save your life. Even just a little bit of drinking is harmful, you know.

Can Alcohol Abuse Cause Cancer?

The negative effects of alcohol on the brain are pretty much. Studies have shown how alcoholism, amongst other bad lifestyle habits like smoking, poor sleep and dieting, leads to increased cancer risk. Daily consumption of over three units of alcohol, i.e., a big glass of wine daily, certainly leads to a higher risk of developing different types of cancer, namely;

  • Liver cancer
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer

How Can I Release Myself From the Bondage Of Alcohol?

Alcoholism is a deep-rooted disease but can still be cured using multiple therapeutic approaches like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), counselling, age group support, and holistic activities like yoga and meditation.

Now that you’re conversant with the negative physical and psychological effects of alcohol on the body, the only way out is to always keep an eye on your level of consumption. But this tends to be difficult as stopping an addiction requires more effort, patience and persistence. Secure yourself from the dangerous effects of alcohol by putting a quick stop to it today.

Always remember that you’re not alone in this battle, as the doors of rehabilitation centers for alcoholics are open to you.

Michele Stanley

Back to top