List of Diseases Caused by Alcohol
Alcohol is the most commonly used drug in the United States. It’s readily available and culturally acceptable. Unfortunately, its prevalence puts specific people at risk of developing substance use disorders and other health conditions.
Relying on alcohol to relax or self-medicate may provide temporary relief, but the adverse effects will eventually add up. Read on to learn more about how a drinking habit can harm your health.
Short-Term Health Risks of Alcohol Use
Because alcohol clouds judgment and lowers inhibitions, it can lead people to make reckless decisions like driving under the influence, having unprotected sex or acting violently. If you drink too much, you may injure yourself because your impaired coordination causes you to stumble, trip and fall. You might also experience blackouts, during which you appear to be lucid and sober, but your brain is not retaining any memories of things you say and do.
Alcohol doesn’t only cause you to behave irresponsibly, struggle with your coordination or have blank spots in your memory. Excessive drinking can also have a range of long-term adverse effects on your overall mental and physical health.
Alcohol abuse and mental illnesses have a strong correlation. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about half of people with a mental health disorder also have a co-occurring substance use disorder. While drinking can provide short-lived relief from symptoms of issues like depression, trauma and anxiety, a worsening alcohol use disorder will eventually create a self-perpetuating cycle of substance abuse, chronic stress and emotional anguish.
Liver disease is the most prevalent long-term effect associated with alcohol abuse. The liver plays a crucial role in filtering alcohol and other toxins from the bloodstream, but it can only handle so much before it begins failing. Liver disease can take various forms, but in general, someone with alcoholism may experience cirrhosis, alcohol-related hepatitis or liver cancer, eventually reaching full organ failure. People with chronic alcoholism might not be eligible to receive a transplant, making liver disease a long-term and even fatal diagnosis.
Cardiomyopathy and Heart Disease
In middle-aged men and women, excessive drinking increases the risk of alcoholic cardiomyopathy. This condition weakens the heart muscle, affecting your heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body.
This chronic condition generally emerges after five to 15 years of heavy drinking. For women, that’s more than three drinks a day or seven drinks a week, and for men, that’s more than four drinks a day or 14 drinks a week.
Besides providing no nutritional value, alcohol can inhibit your body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients from the foods you eat. Even if you follow a balanced diet, you may still be deficient in these vital vitamins and minerals, which can cause illness.
- Vitamin B1: This vitamin plays a crucial role in metabolizing carbohydrates. Drinking alcohol limits B1 absorption, thus limiting your body’s energy levels.
- Vitamin B12: Alcohol consumption prevents the absorption of vitamin B12, and chronic drinking can create a vitamin B12 deficiency, causing muscle weakness, fatigue, difficulty walking and a rapid heart rate.
- Folic acid: Folic acid helps our blood cells form and promotes healthy cell formation and function. Alcohol can prohibit folic acid, and long-term nutrient deficiency can lead to a disease called megaloblastic anemia. This illness limits the amount of oxygen a person can carry in their body, impacting their endurance and stamina.
- Zinc: Zinc plays various roles in the body, such as maintaining a healthy metabolism, immune system and wound healing. Consuming alcohol limits the amount of zinc in the body, causing fatigue.
Learn More About Complications of Alcohol Use
Do you drink daily, experience frequent blackouts, feel guilty about your alcohol use or notice your habit is damaging your relationships? It could be time to seek professional treatment.
Alcoholism is a disease, and as it progresses, it becomes increasingly challenging to quit on your own. Seeking alcohol addiction treatment is not a sign of weakness. If anything, it signifies resilience because asking for help can be so challenging.
If you rely on alcohol and are concerned about how it is affecting your physical and mental well-being, Beach House is here for you. We provide compassionate, evidence-based treatment for adults living with the disease of addiction. If you are ready to discover more about the treatment approaches, accreditations and amenities that make us one of the nation’s best treatment centers, please reach out to us today.