Alcohol addiction affects everyone it touches, from the addict to their loved ones to people they don’t even know. It is important to understand the effects of this dangerous substance use disorder and to learn why seeking help at an alcohol treatment facility is absolutely necessary for a safe recovery.
What Is Alcohol Addiction?
Alcohol addiction is a serious disorder associated with the consistently unsafe and uncontrolled consumption of alcohol. While adults can consume this substance safely in moderation, according to the National Library of Medicine, people who abuse alcohol often and for a long period of time can in fact become addicted to it. This is called alcoholism, and it is characterized by the physical dependence it causes.
When a person who is an alcoholic suddenly stops drinking, they experience severe withdrawal symptoms. Sometimes, these symptoms can become deadly. There are several other factors associated with alcoholism, including:
- Experiencing a sharp need or cravings for alcohol that cannot be ignored
- Not having control over one’s alcohol abuse, including being unable to slow down, stop, or cut back, even when one wants to
- Experiencing a rising tolerance for the substance so that more and more alcohol is needed to produce the same effects over time
Anyone who experiences these symptoms is struggling with a severe alcohol use disorder and will need professional help.
What Are the Effects of Alcoholism?
Alcoholism has far-reaching effects; some that many people are not aware of and others that may be discovered all too late. Some of these effects are severe health risks. As stated by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, long-term alcohol abuse caused by alcoholism can lead to:
- Malnutrition and severe weight loss
- A weakened immune system
- Damage to the liver
– This can include steatosis, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis
- Damage to the pancreas, including pancreatitis
- Heart problems
– This can include cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, and stroke
- High blood pressure
- Internal bleeding in the stomach and/or esophagus
– Alcoholism can be a main cause of certain types of cancer, including that of the head, neck, esophagus, liver, colon, and breasts
- Nerve damage in the brain that causes:
– Problems containing or expelling urine
– Problems keeping an erection
In addition, many individuals who abuse alcohol start doing so in order to self-medicate issues of depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. While this can feel like it is working at first, over time, alcohol causes individuals with these issues to struggle more. The substance is a depressant, and as such, its use can eventually lead to:
- Worsened feelings of anxiety, depression, worthlessness, etc
- Difficulty sleeping, insomnia, nightmares
- Suicidal thoughts or attempts
- Difficulty treating mental health issues with medications
The health effects associated with long-term, severe alcohol abuse are serious, but unfortunately, so are the other effects associated with this behavior. Alcoholics tend to experience problems in other areas of their lives, including:
- Financial issues caused by spending too much money on alcohol or spending money meant for other things (like food, rent, etc.) on alcohol
- Professional issues caused by coming to work drunk or hung over, drinking on the job, and/or being fired or reprimanded for one’s behavior
- Legal issues caused by drinking recklessly or acting recklessly while intoxicated that could lead to a DUI, a DWI, or another serious legal matter
- Personal issues caused by one’s desire to put alcohol use above everything else, including loved ones
Alcoholism harms many other people, not just the alcoholic. Instances of these effects include:
- A loved one of an alcoholic is harmed because the alcoholic put their need to drink above their responsibilities to their loved ones.
- A loved one experiences financial issues because the alcoholic constantly borrows money, uses all their money for alcohol, or gets fired due to their alcohol abuse.
- A loved one constantly feels neglected by the alcoholic who only cares about drinking.
- A fetus is harmed during pregnancy because of alcoholic drinks during pregnancy, resulting in fetal alcohol syndrome.
- A person unknown to the alcoholic is harmed in a motor vehicle accident because the alcoholic was drunk while driving.
Alcoholics can also experience many other negative effects associated with their alcohol abuse, including accidents, falls, etc. Becoming extremely intoxicated often increases one’s chances of experiencing a severe accident, which can lead to hospital bills, chronic health problems, and other issues.
There are so many ways alcoholism can harm an individual and their loved ones; while not all of these happen immediately, the longer the alcoholic continues to drink unchecked, the more likely these issues are to occur. As such, it is important to put an end to this behavior as safely and effectively as possible.
Why Do People Keep Drinking in Spite of These Effects?
People who become addicted to alcohol may know of these risks and may even begin to experience them and still continue to drink. The reason for this is because alcoholism is another name for alcohol addiction. As stated by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, when a person becomes addicted to a substance, their brain changes and starts to work differently. In many cases, they will not be able to stop even if they want to – not without professional help.
Finding Alcoholism Help in an Alcohol Treatment Facility
Individuals who need treatment for alcoholism should seek help in a professional rehab center. Often, treatment starts with detox and then moves on to rehab. Some individuals need to attend more than one treatment program in their lives in order to safely recover, but no matter what, it is absolutely necessary that an individual struggling with alcoholism receive safe, professional treatment.
Not every individual wants to seek help for their addiction. Sometimes, family members and other loved ones need to help them begin on their road to recovery by insisting they seek treatment. While alcoholics often want to ignore the issue or deny the severity of it, anyone who is experiencing the issues listed above will need professional treatment for a safe recovery. An alcohol treatment facility is the best option for this type of outcome.