The long term affects of alcohol are very serious. Alcohol has long been ingrained in American culture. Alcohol can be found at nearly every gathering and in households across the country. This raises the question, “What are the long-term affects of alcohol?” When consumed in moderation, this may not be much of a problem. However, there are concerns in both the short and long term. In the short term, alcohol poisoning can be incredibly dangerous and surprisingly common. When the line between moderation and excessive consumption blur, there are long-term effects of alcohol to be concerned about. This article will explore the long term affects of alcohol, help identify alcohol poisoning, and perhaps most importantly, share a way out.
What is Alcohol Poisoning?
Alcohol poisoning does not require years of long-term alcohol abuse to set it. It can occur on any night of heavy drinking—even someone’s first experience with alcohol. Alcohol poisoning is an acute medical condition resulting from drinking too much alcohol in a short time.
Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning (in no particular order)
- Feeling extremely tired or weak
- Vomiting while passed out or losing consciousness
- Slow breathing (less than eight breaths per minute)
- Hypothermia (low body temperature), bluish skin color, paleness
- Irregular breathing (a gap of more than eight seconds between breaths, or a moment when the chest doesn’t rise)
- A lack of response to stimulation such as loud noise or painful stimuli
If you observe any of these symptoms, it is critical to call emergency services immediately. Immediate medical intervention may be necessary as alcohol poisoning can lead to death.
What are the long term Affects of alcohol?
Drinking too much alcohol over several years can lead to many problems. We can see trouble with liver health, brain function, heart disease, and more from a health perspective. Socially and economically, we see difficulties in employment and relationships. The long term affects of alcohol are very far-reaching. Not everyone who struggles with alcohol dependency will experience all of these. If you or a loved one struggle with alcoholism, though, it is crucial to be aware of what can happen over time.
The liver is the body’s filtration system. It is responsible for breaking down alcohol. When consumed in moderation, this process works without any problems. However, when the body consistently produces more alcohol than what can be broken down by the liver, it begins to take a toll on the overall health of that organ. The liver can be affected in several ways, most commonly:
- Alcoholic hepatitis– inflammation of the liver caused by alcohol leading to scar tissue and slowed blood flow;
- Alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD)- a disease in which fat builds around the liver, leading to swelling of the liver;
- Cirrhosis– a disease in which your liver’s typical structure and function break down over time.
Alcohol can also negatively impact short-term memory. Some heavy and long-term drinkers may experience “blackouts,” which happens when someone cannot remember what they did or said at some point during the night. Sometimes the lost periods of time may be brief, but often it can span several hours. Over a more extended period, excessive alcohol consumption may result in what is known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, often referred to as wet brain. This affects the brain functions of memory and balance. As a result, someone suffering from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome may regularly appear confused, speak slowly, and have ongoing memory issues.
Excessive alcohol consumption can result in what is known as alcoholic cardiomyopathy or “alcoholic heart disease.” This condition causes severe dysfunction of the heart and can result in death without proper medical intervention. The long term affects of alcohol have been linked to irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, and stroke, among others.
Alcohol use may lead to difficulties in maintaining employment or growing in your career. Trouble at work due to drinking can show up in countless ways, ranging from embarrassment to legal trouble, depending on the situation. Numerous studies have been conducted to understand the economic impact of the long-term effects of alcohol abuse. While studying this is a tricky task, there is a common correlation between alcoholism and earning capacity. For example, some major studies found alcoholics to make 18% less than their peers of similar age and educational backgrounds. Factors such as attendance, productivity, and physical, emotional, and mental stamina are all pointed to as reasons for the lower income.
The long term affects of alcohol can take a toll on relationships with friends and family. Beyond the health and economic effects, it can also lead to isolation or difficulties in interpersonal communication. Alcohol abuse has been linked to increased rates of domestic violence as well. While there are undoubtedly many factors that lead to marital difficulties, alcoholism can certainly play a role in divorce or loss of custody over children if someone was deemed unfit due to alcohol use. Relationships are complex by nature. Adding alcohol into the mix, especially over the long term, can lead to so much unknown damage.
A Way Out
There is a way out of the very destructive path associated with alcohol use and abuse. If you or someone you know has an addiction, please reach out for help. Harmony Healing in New Jersey makes high-quality addiction and alcoholism treatment available and accessible. Whether you are looking for alcohol treatment programs or help with depression, we are here for you. We offer a full range of services and the finest outpatient alcohol treatment in New Jersey.