Although alcohol is deeply rooted in our society and is present in social functions, celebrations, and after work happy hours, drinking does contain inherent risks both to the body and the mind. Although moderate drinking has been shown in studies to have a positive effect on the prevention of coronary heart disease, it is wise nevertheless to assess the risks before your night out.
Alcohol’s effect on the liver is well documented and although the liver’s function is to detoxify harmful chemicals, excessive drinking interferes with liver function and can result in liver disease and inflammation. Additionally, the scarring that results from liver disease, cirrhosis, damages the liver often beyond repair. Other risks include alcoholic hepatitis and fibrosis.
A more immediate example of the harmful effects of alcohol is it’s effect on the central nervous system and the brain. Consuming too much alcohol disrupts the communication pathways of your brain and makes speaking clearly and coordination a difficult task. Rational decision making is impacted, and a normally cautious person can become uncharacteristically impulsive. Alcohol abuse can eventually lead to frontal lobe damage, which diminishes a person’s ability to exercise judgement and retain long term memory.
The circulatory system, your heart and lungs, is also affected by alcohol. While heavy drinkers are at more risk for heart related complications, women in particular are more at risk for developing heart disease than their male counterparts. Other complications include high blood pressure, stroke and an irregular heartbeat.
Digestion is also at risk and the toxic effects of alcohol can damage intestinal tissue. Once this occurs, the body experiences difficulty absorbing vitamins and nutrients from food consumed. Malnutrition and anemia can result from this chronic inability to properly digest food. Ulcers and hemorrhoids are also a common and painful occurrence and may lead to internal bleeding if help is not sought immediately.
Lastly, as with any addiction, alcohol dependence can easily develop which severely impacts a person’s home and work life. This dependence is not just emotional. Physical dependence is all encompassing and withdrawal can be life threatening if a person is not closely monitored by a medical professional. Detoxing from alcohol is astoundingly beneficial to the user and those around them. However, if the person is not monitored, seizures and delirium can occur which may lead to injuries or even death.