17 Health Effects of Alcohol Abuse: What it Does to Your Body
How is Alcohol Abuse Defined?
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism considers heavy drinking to be consuming more than four drinks in a day or more than 14 drinks in a week for men, or three drinks on any day or more than seven drinks per week for women.
Binge drinking, meanwhile, is determined by drinking to the point of a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher, which typically is caused by five or more drinks for men or four or more drinks for women in two hours, according to the NIAAA.
But what about alcohol abuse? Alcohol abuse often referred to as alcohol use disorder, is marked by drinking patterns — an inability to control drinking, for example, or continuing to drink despite the problems it is causing. Another indicator can be focusing on alcohol or thinking about it often.
Binge drinking increases the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder, according to the NIAAA, and heavy drinking is a known cause of a series of short- and long-term health effects.
5 Short-Term Health Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Whether it’s a 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce pour of wine or 1.5-ounce serving of liquor, heavy drinking of multiple standard drinks on a regular basis can add up to several short-term health effects.
While some research has suggested minimal health impacts of occasionally having one drink, there is plenty of evidence of just how damaging repeated, heavy drinking can be to our bodies.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are several short-term health risks of alcohol abuse, including:
- Injuries from accidents (car accidents, falls, drownings, etc.).
- Homicide, suicide, sexual assault and domestic violence.
- High blood alcohol levels that cause alcohol poisoning.
- Sexually transmitted diseases, unplanned pregnancies and other problems caused by risky sexual behavior.
- For pregnant women, alcohol abuse can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders.
A variety of other short-term health effects are also possible, such as:
- Vomiting or nausea.
- Diarrhea, upset stomach and other digestive issues.
- Slurred speech.
- Distorted vision or hearing.
- Loss of consciousness.
- Impaired judgment and decreased coordination.
12 Long-Term Health Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Over time, heavy drinking patterns can lead to severe health impacts on all parts of the body.
The CDC says long-term health risks include:
- Higher risks of cancer, including cancers of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, voice box, liver, colon and rectum.
- A weakened immune system and higher chance of becoming sick or catching illnesses.
- High blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease, stroke and digestive issues.
- Mental health impacts, such as anxiety or depression.
- Social problems, such as family strife or job performance issues.
- Dementia, poor academic performance and other learning or memory problems.
Other long-term health effects are numerous, including:
- Damage to the liver, brain and nerves.
- Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies.
- Ulcers or stomach inflammation.
- Slowed breathing and possible respiratory failure.
- Reduced muscle mass and impaired movement and coordination.
- Issues with bones, tendons and ligaments as alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to absorb and properly use calcium.
How to Get Help for Alcohol Abuse
The health consequences of heavy, prolonged patterns of drinking are clear, but there is cause for hope: Quitting drinking can lead to improvements in things like liver damage, stomach problems and other physiological impacts.
Alcohol abuse can cause severe damage to the liver, for example, hurting the organ that filters toxins from the blood. But the liver is more resilient than many people realize, and if a heavy drinker quits before it’s too late, the liver can actually repair itself from early-stage damage.
Other health impacts, such as mood disorders or kidney damage, can also be reversed or at least improved by quitting drinking.
The important thing is to quit drinking, and that often takes help. That’s why it’s crucial to reach out to professionals with expertise and knowledge on overcoming alcohol addiction to make a better future possible in recovery.
But not all addiction treatment centers are equal, with different facilities offering different types and levels of care, unique therapies or treatment that caters to specific groups or underlying issues.
Another important consideration is finding a treatment center that accepts insurance coverage and has a proven record of safe, effective, impactful therapies and programs that can make all the difference as a person navigates a life of addiction and begins their journey to recovery.
Overcome Alcohol Abuse with Help from Resurgence Behavioral Health
Resurgence Behavioral Health has proven itself as a top provider of addiction treatment, and clients have access to a range of programs:
- Inpatient rehab: A residential program, usually lasting 30 to 90 days, with clients living full-time inside a treatment center. The structured and customizable schedule and access to more resources is one advantage of this option, as is living in a sober, safe environment.
- Outpatient rehab: There are several levels of outpatient care available at Resurgence, such as partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient or continued outpatient care. These programs can still provide the tools and resources to get life back on track, though it’s less structured and not full time like inpatient programs would be.
Whether a client chooses an inpatient program or outpatient services, Resurgence offers a comprehensive continuum of care that includes several treatments and therapies, such as:
- Medical detox and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs.
- Behavioral health treatment.
- Individual therapy.
- Group therapy.
- Family therapy.
- Dual diagnosis programs, which can address co-occurring disorders such as mental illness or post-traumatic stress disorder in addition to the addiction itself.
- Couples’ rehab programs.
- Holistic treatments and therapies.
- Life skills training.
- Relapse prevention programs.
- Educational programs.
At Resurgence, trauma-informed methods are at the heart of programs, and clean, comfortable rooms, healthy nutrition and exercise programs, and structure and stability throughout the continuum of care all add up to the right place to get help and make a better future possible.
Learn about what alcohol actually does to your body in our latest blog post. https://t.co/k78Zutlu3h
— Resurgence Behavioral Health (@RBHRecovery) January 12, 2023
Resurgence’s expert staff of highly trained professionals offers the help that those struggling with alcohol abuse need — all without judgment — and personalized care and treatment plans make sure the plan for recovery is exactly what each client needs.
Don’t wait to start the process of making life better and leaving alcohol behind — call Resurgence today at 855-458-0050 and look forward to a better, healthier life without the health effects of alcohol abuse.