Binge drinking is a common habit in many cultures. If someone you know has it, you’ll want to know about the long-term effects of alcohol.
The long-term effects of alcohol extend to relationships as well. Hence, some tips on how to manage it will be useful.
Why Alcohol Is Addictive
Knowing why alcohol draws so many drinkers will help you understand the need to overcome its effects.
A study done by the Ernest Gallo Clinic and Research Center at the University of California reveals that alcohol causes the release of ‘happy’ chemicals, endorphins.
A little happiness isn’t a bad thing. However, alcohol releases the endorphins in the nucleus accumbens, the part of the brain linked to addiction and poor decision making. Of course, there is a connection to drunkenness.
A person who has experienced the pleasure of drinking will want to repeat the process. The desire may develop into cravings, a key component of addiction.
How heavy drinkers respond to alcohol
The release of ‘happy’ chemicals and the compulsion to drink compound alcohol’s effects in heavy drinkers. The more they drink, the more happy chemicals there are in the nucleus accumbens. The more content they are, the more alcohol they crave. Their cravings may be so intense that they become physically dependent on alcoholic beverages. They become addicted at this point.
It’s not just the endorphins. A study completed by BBC News found that drinking causes the release of dopamine, another happy chemical. The more people drink, the more satisfied they feel, Again, this contributes to addiction.
Long-term effects of alcohol on health
Alcohol affects all parts of the body. You may not be able to perceive the damage, so it’s important to understand how it happens. At times, the long-term effects of alcohol aren’t apparent until much later in life. Every organ may sustain the effects of drinking, but some are more at risk than others.
1. The Brain
Alcohol may cause temporary memory loss and a lack of coordination. In the long-term, it may damage the cerebellum, limbic systems, a cerebral cortex, affecting how the brain functions. For example, damage to the cerebellum may limit your motor skills. If alcohol floods the area, you may lose your balance.
Also, the heart is especially vulnerable to the effects of alcohol. Excessive drinking can lead cause the heart muscles to weaken and affect the delivery of nutrients to other parts of the body. It may even increase triglyceride levels, causing plaque to develop in the arteries. Problems like diabetes and heart disease may occur. The long-term effects of alcohol on the heart may include stroke and even cardiac death.
Heavy drinking may cause harmful liver conditions. The liver breaks down alcohol and purges it from the bloodstream. Too much of it can disrupt metabolism and lead to a fatty liver, or a buildup of fats in the liver. It may cause liver failure. Type 2 diabetes and hepatitis.
The pancreas regulates your blood sugar levels. Excess alcohol over the long-term will impact it negatively and cause health complications. However, people seldom deal with this problem because the effects are often not felt.
Alcohol abuse over the long-term causes blood vessels around the pancreas to become swollen. It increases the risk of developing pancreatic cancer, which is extremely dangerous. A pancreatic attack can trigger nausea, diarrhea, and a rapid heart rate. Medication can treat it, but it’s practically irreversible.
Long-term effects of alcohol on relationships
Heavy drinking may also affect relationships. Here are some ways it may impact us socially.
5. Domestic violence
First of all, there may be an increase in physical or emotional abuse. It’s not uncommon for parents to lose control over themselves when they drink. According to the World Health Organisation, alcohol leaves people unable to resolve conflict in a non-violent manner.
6. Higher Divorce Rates
Divorce results. Research published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, done by researchers from the University of Michigan, found that 48.3% of people with past cases of alcohol abuse divorced their partners.
Furthermore, the cost of divorce is high. Couples add to their financial burdens when they have to live independently.
7. Medical Costs
Moreover, treatment for alcohol addiction is expensive. Experts report that people at the poverty level can end up spending almost half their income on alcohol.
The poverty that arises from alcohol abuse transcends generations. Children may end up lacking education and struggling with family budgets.
8. Alcoholism is hereditary
Children of alcoholic parents tend to develop unhealthy relationships with alcohol. A collaborative study, which analyzed 987 people from 105 families found that parents who suffered from alcoholism had children who were genetically predisposed to the condition.
How to tell if someone is suffering from the long-term effects of alcohol
You suspect someone of drinking excessively, but can’t ascertain the signs. Here are a few ways to tell if a person’s suffering from alcohol abuse.
First of all, the person will wake up in the morning and forget what happened after he or she had been drinking. Also, you’d find yourself pleading with the person to stop drinking. Fights and name calling are common.
Furthermore, drinking will take precedence over all other matters. If a person can’t remember the last time he or she didn’t have a hangover, he or she may have drinking issues. He or she would deal with stress by drinking.
In all, the long-term effects of alcohol are many. The good news is that awareness can help you or your loved one manage them.
By Michelle L.