The Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Every system and organ in the human body is affected by excessive alcohol use. Abusers of alcohol can find themselves suffering from various health conditions and even be more susceptible to broken bones since alcohol abuse can cause brittle and weak bones. Many abusers of alcohol also begin to look much older than they actually are because of alcohol’s effects on the skin and teeth.
Alcohol abuse also affects brain functions like concentration, memory, reaction time and other key areas of cognition. You may find that you are forgetting things even apart from drinking blackouts. Repeated alcohol abuse is hard on your body and your mind.
Addiction can affect everyone, but how alcoholism affects an individual can differ. Women are often physically smaller than men, carry less water, and have more hormone fluctuations. Women also process, metabolize, and eliminate alcohol much differently than their male counterparts, which means they could be more prone to long-term effects as their bodies retain alcohol for longer periods of time.
The effects of alcohol on the liver have long been documented, but alcoholism can greatly impact an addict’s overall health. Alcohol affects chemicals that facilitate communication between parts of the brain. These chemicals are known as neurotransmitters, and drinking enhances the function of a particular neurotransmitter that helps induce relaxation and feelings of euphoria. For moderate drinkers, this effect is temporary and only requires a small amount of alcohol. But regular drinking causes these neurotransmitters to gradually suppress their activity, and greater amounts of alcohol are needed to produce the same results. This is known as building a tolerance.
Chronic abuse also suppresses the functioning of a neurotransmitter called glutamate, which produces feelings of excitement. In an effort to counteract the effects of the alcohol, the glutamates start producing at much higher levels3. When a heavy drinker suddenly stops drinking, or even just cuts consumption considerably, the neurotransmitters that were being suppressed begin to rebound, and the brain enters into an overactive state called hyper-excitability. This is what produces the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal syndrome, which is the extreme opposite of the effects of alcohol.