Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to an array of serious health problems
(press release: summitbehavioralhealth) // New Jersey // Maria Ulmer MA, LMFT, CAADC | Chief Clinical Officer
Most people are well aware of the short-term effects of alcohol. It can make you disoriented, slower to react, and dehydrated. But alcohol harms your body in other ways that you may not necessarily notice right away. Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to an array of serious health problems.
If you’re struggling with an alcohol addiction, it’s important to understand that alcohol can have a lasting impact on your health. Here are just a few ways that alcohol can harm you.
A great deal of research has been done on the impact of alcohol on the brain. Over time, alcohol destroys brain cells, which leads to permanent memory loss, and a form of encephalopathy (damage to the brain) that causes confusion, paralysis of the nerves in the eyes, and problems with muscle coordination. Eventually, these conditions are irreversible.
Alcohol can also do serious damage to the skeletal system, including increasing a person’s risk of developing osteoporosis. Chronic heavy drinking — even in young people — can lead to a heightened risk of brittle bones later in life. Alcohol inhibits the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which is critical for healthy bones. Women are especially vulnerable to the effects of alcohol on the bones.
A Weakened Immune System
Have you noticed that you’re more prone to catching colds when you’ve been drinking a lot? Do you come down with the flu every time you hit the bars with friends? This is because alcohol weakens the immune system — the body’s natural defenses to illness and disease. Excessive alcohol consumption has been linked to not only the liver disease but an inability to fight off even mild infections. This can lead to cascading health problems that result in serious illnesses.
You’ve probably seen commercials touting the benefits of yogurt for the digestive system. This is because the flora in the gut is quite complicated. When it’s healthy and balanced, a person can eat and drink regular meals without feeling bloated or sick. However, alcohol disrupts this balance, which can spill over to other organs and systems in the body. Alcohol hits the gastrointestinal tract first, and it can even impair the function of the muscles that separate the esophagus from the heart. Over time, many people who abuse alcohol develop painful acid reflux. Excessive alcohol consumption can even heighten a person’s risk of developing esophageal cancer.
Start on a path toward a lasting recovery right now by contacting one of our behavioral health experts. Summit Behavioral Health offers both inpatient and outpatient programs to help people recover from alcohol abuse disorder and co-occurring disorders. We can help you too. Our programs are medically supervised and designed to fit your specific needs and goals. Call our behavioral health professionals today at 1-855-855-9199 to speak to a substance abuse expert about your treatment options.