The damaging effects of alcohol on the body are not always obvious, especially in the early stages of addiction. Young people, too, often do not feel the effects of alcohol on the body because a young body is more adept at healing and recovering from the damage.
Over time the damaging effects of alcohol on the body will become apparent. The effects will vary in severity from person to person and are directly related to how long and how much alcohol has been or is being used. Overdose and death are among the many effects of alcohol on the body.
Effects on the Brain
The effects of alcohol on the body include its sedating and depressant effects on the central nervous system. Within minutes of begin ingested, alcohol penetrates all of the body’s organs, including the brain. Alcohol’s affect on the brain shows up as slowed or impaired thinking, memory, judgment, behavior and motor skills. The more alcohol is consumed, the more the brain and body are impaired. Alcohol can cause temporary and permanent brain damage and hallucinations. The very serious and sometimes fatal condition of delirium tremons (DTs) sometimes occurs in alcohol withdrawal.
Effects on the Heart
The heart’s electrical patterns become disrupted by the effects of alcohol on the body. A person’s heart rhythm and heart rate are disturbed by alcohol. Some alcoholics will develop a permanent heart condition called “cardiomyopathy” which will get worse over time whether the person stops drinking or not. If a person has an existing heart condition, alcohol use will compound the problem increasing the risk of heart failure.
Effects on the Liver
Alcohol is broken down and processed by the liver. Many alcoholics show the effects of alcohol in the body in liver damage. Three major liver diseases can result from chronic exposure to alcohol: Fatty liver disease which is reversible; alcoholic hepatitis; and cirrhosis of the liver which will eventually lead to death.
Effects on the Pancreas, Kidneys and Lungs
Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas tissue. Pancreatitis causes stomach pain and nausea, breathing problems and possibly pancreatic failure.
The effects of alcohol on the body include the disruption of hormones, so kidney function can be affected. Kidneys can become damaged and enlarged and will culminate in kidney failure over time if drinking is not stopped or decreased.
Fluid in the lungs creates a situation that makes it difficult for a person to get the proper amount of oxygen the body needs. An increase in the amount of fluid in the lungs is one of the effects of alcohol on the body and can lead to chronic lung infections.
Effects on Reproduction
Because alcohol affects the synthesis and utilization of certain hormones, the effects of alcohol on the body extend to a person’s reproductive system. Over time, the hormone disruptions will result in male impotence, female inability to get pregnant, loss of pregnancy or fetal alcohol syndrome if the baby survives.
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body
The effects of alcohol on the body are not always obvious. External signs such as slurred speech, falling down, poor judgment and drunken behaviors are easy to see. However, there is much more damage occurring inside a person due to the effects of alcohol on the body. The long-term outcome of chronic alcoholism is death unless professional treatment for alcohol addiction is sought and recovery is embraced.