There has been so much research executed on the many serious and damaging effects of alcohol abuse that to catalog every type of damage would require a fat volume. This report will summarize some of the most striking types of damaging effects that are commonly seen.
Most people know about cirrhosis of the liver and fetal alcohol syndrome. Briefly, cirrhosis of the liver is a fibrous condition that results when the liver must process more alcohol than it can handle. Scar tissue forms, and more alcohol consumption prevents that scar tissue from being able to be healed. This condition of scarring worsens into cirrhosis when the tissue is so damaged that it cannot function as liver tissue any longer. About one in four heavy drinkers will develop cirrhosis.
This kind of damage to the liver can result in fever, nausea, vomiting, an enlarged liver, pain, confusion and jaundice.
Fetal alcohol syndrome covers a number of conditions that may be present in newborns where the mother drank during pregnancy. These include abnormal facial features and reduced brain function. Symptoms can be severe and disabling or scarcely noticeable.
Just as alcohol damages the liver, it also damages the brain. When the liver begins to deteriorate and so is unable to process all the toxins in alcohol, these toxins start to attack the brain.
As the brain begins to be damaged by these chemicals, the following effects may be experienced:
- Anxiety and depression
- Short concentration span
- Sleep disturbances
- Pronounced personality changes
Alcohol changes the way the pancreas functions. Instead of discharging enzymes into the digestive tract like it is supposed to do, when alcohol consumption is heavy this causes the pancreas to keep these enzymes inside itself, which causes problems. One of the toxic byproducts of alcohol consumption creates further damage. The pancreas can become inflamed, referred to as pancreatitis. Pancreatitis can show up as a sudden attack or it can become chronic.
Pancreatitis can result in:
- Abdominal pain which can extend up the back
- Nausea and vomiting
- Fast heart rate
Chronic pancreatitis can result in the destruction of the pancreas which can lead to diabetes or death.
When a person drinks heavily for a long time, the heart muscle can weaken, droop and stretch. It can no longer efficiently pump blood. The result can be shortness of breath, fatigue, swollen legs and feet and an irregular heartbeat. Heart failure can follow.
Alcohol disturbs the function of the heart that keeps it beating at an even rate and at the right speed. Binge drinking and long term drinking both can result in atrial fibrillation, a condition in which the upper chambers of the heart shudder but do not contract. Blood may not be pushed out of these chambers and so may clot. These clots traveling to the brain or lungs can kill.
In ventricular tachycardia, the lower chambers of the heart (ventricles) get too much electrical stimulation and beat too quickly. These chambers are not able to fill up with blood fully like they are supposed to so pumping becomes less efficient. The result is dizziness, lightheadedness, unconsciousness and even death.
Alcohol changes the body's hormones, and this can in turn result in the constricting of major blood vessels. When these vessel constrict, high blood pressure can result.
It is not discussed openly very much, but heavy alcohol consumption is implicated in mouth, esophagus, pharynx, larynx, liver and breast cancer. Most people who get mouth cancer drink heavily. Five or more drinks per day have also been shown to increase the risk of colon or rectal cancer.
Aside from these physical effects, there are the mental and emotional effects of drinking heavily or constantly. Loss of personal integrity and self esteem, abandonment of goals, destruction of family, loss of friends, careers and success. When alcohol is more important than the rest of life, all these other factors related to enjoyment of life simply fall by the wayside.
Of course, the connection between alcohol and accidental death can't be overlooked. Many deaths from traffic accidents, drownings, burnings and falls are alcohol-related.
It is obvious, then, that a habit of heavy alcohol consumption is not something to be overlooked. If not to prevent the emotional and personal losses that may occur, then simply to retain a comfortable level of health, alcoholism should be addressed and eliminated.
If someone you know is drinking and can't stop, you can help them by telling them about the Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. As a result of this program, seven out of ten graduates remain sober after they go home, no matter that their drugs of choice were. One of the phases of this program that can be very helpful for alcoholics is the Narconon New Life Detoxification Program. This step uses time in a low-heat sauna, a strict nutritional regimen and moderate daily exercise to enable the body to flush out old, stored toxins that remain lodged in the body after extensive drinking. Once these toxins are gone, the person feels brighter and can think more clearly. Most people finishing this step say their cravings for alcohol are greatly reduced or gone.
Find out all about the Narconon program and how you can help a person stop drinking.