Drinking in moderation usually doesn’t cause any serious health problems, unless the person drinking already had some disease of the liver, gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, brain, or nervous system.
Alcohol abuse and addiction lead to emotional problems. Continued abuse and addiction affects the entire body system in many different ways. The following list of health effects caused by long term use of alcohol is by no means complete. Some effects include:
1. Obesity is caused due to the high-calorie intake of excessive amounts of alcohol.
2. As an intemperate amount of alcohol increases the production of hydrochloric acid, irritation to the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine is augmented, which promotes gastritis and ulcers or exasperates an already existing condition.
3. Pancreatitis: an infection of the pancreas, which is the organ that releases insulin and glucagons as well as enzymes that combine with bile to digest food.
4. Hypoglycemia and diabetes
5. Cirrhosis: a chronic disease interfering with the normal functioning of the liver; the major cause is chronic alcoholism. The liver is the only organ that really converts alcohol into energy to be used immediately. Where there is an excessive intake, the liver stores it within itself as fat. This causes continuous irritation, leading to cirrhosis, eventually shrinking it until only a small portion of the liver is functional.
6. Toxic Hepatitis is caused by a rise in the liver enzyme levels due to the liver being irritated by alcohol, and other toxins.
7. Increased high blood pressure and heart disease.
8. Cardiomyopathy involves hypertrophy of the musculature of the heart.
9. Cardiac Arrhythmia is the result when alcohol disrupts or damages the electrical impulses in the heart.
12. Loss of hearing
13. Nerve and brain dysfunction
14. Nutritional deficiencies
15. Suppression of the immune system
16. Cognitive impairment, including impaired reasoning, memory damage, and learning deficits
17. Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
18. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome: a brain disorder linked to thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency combined with heavy, long term drinking
19. Higher incidence of injury and death due to falls and car wrecks because alcohol is a sedative that lowers coordination.
Effects of excessive alcohol intake over an extended period of time should be taken very seriously. The effects can affect almost every system in a person’s body, with some of the effects being reversible and some being permanent. The dangerousness of overindulgence has been pushed away in society, mainly because alcohol is legal and most of the population enjoys drinking socially. More needs to be done to help the general public greater their understanding of the dangers of alcohol abuse, and to dispel the myth that alcoholics are only the few winos one might expect to see in a bad part of town; the truth hits closer to home.