Alcohol abuse is a problem America is rather familiar with. According to a 2018 survey, 14.4 million adults aged 18 and above are suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder in the US. It’s clear that hitting the bottle is an addictive national pastime – one that’s hard to kick to the curb.
Beyond physiological health effects, this kind of addiction can lead to a host of other psychological, social, and emotional problems that leave long-term scars, those that affect generations of people, after the alcoholic has passed away.
For more reasons on why it’s important to moderate how often and how much booze you consume, dive into the points outlined below.
Chronic alcohol abuse can damage the liver.
Since alcohol is one of the many substances that the body breaks down, alcohol abuse can cause significant damage to the liver, which processes 90% of alcohol that enters the body. Abuse can lead to the onset of alcohol-related disease and cirrhosis. It is estimated that alcohol caused 4 out of 5 deaths from liver disease.
It has been proven that years of alcohol abuse can cause inflammation and swelling in the liver, as well as scarring, which is referred to as cirrhosis. This is also the final stage of liver disease.
Long-term alcohol abuse can also cause significant destruction to liver cells. This is what causes cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and even certain cellular mutations that lead to liver cancer. While hepatitis generally occurs before cirrhosis, heavy drinkers can develop cirrhosis without developing hepatitis.
Alcohol impairs the functioning of the brain.
There’s enough and more evidence that chronic alcohol consumption has a severe and negative effect on the brain. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, heavy and long-term alcohol users experience mild to moderate impairment of intellectual capacity and even diminished brain size.
Alcohol also affects your ability to think in abstract terms or to remember certain things, like the location of identified objects. Long-term abuse can also lead to conditions like Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS), on relatively rarer occasions, and more generally to thiamine deficiency, which is detected in up to 80% of alcohol users.
On its own, WKS leads to significant problems with memory functions and a person’s learning capabilities.
Is this damage irreversible?
Depending on the level of damage and how much alcohol you consume, the good news is that it’s possible to recover from some of the damage done to your liver.
Conditions like fatty liver disease and alcoholic hepatitis can be remedied considerably by abstinence. While cirrhosis can certainly benefit from abstinence, the condition tends to be fatal because it leads to other serious health complications, including hypertension or complete kidney failure.
Similarly, liver cancer can also benefit from abstinence but has the same prognosis as cirrhosis.
If you or your loved one wants to receive treatment, abstinence, however, may not be enough, and it’s imperative to receive medical treatment. For more long-term cases, psychological support is also highly beneficial and can help people recover from psychologically-proven cases of addiction.
Getting help for alcohol abuse
If you or someone you know and care about needs help overcoming alcohol abuse, there are plenty of options to pursue. There are AA meetings, psychological counseling, addiction recovery programs, and other options that can be explored before it’s too late.
Nowadays, there are plenty of alcohol abuse treatment programs dedicated to helping people recover from substance and alcohol abuse. These generally provide holistic support for alcohol addicts and can be very effective, provided they’re followed with dedication and a sincere desire to change.