When you take that first sip of alcohol, it goes to your brain in only 30 seconds and has instant short-term effects. It will alter you mood, slow your reflexes, and disturb your balance. While the occasional glass of wine isn’t cause for concern, the cumulative effects of drinking can take its toll. Heavy drinking can lead to a dependency, which will have serious consequences on every part of your body.
What is Heavy Drinking?
Heavy drinking is categorized by gender. For men, it means more than 4 drinks per day or 14 in a week. For women, it is more than 3 drinks per day or 7 in a week. If you are exceeding these numbers you either already have an alcohol use disorder and are harming your organs, or you are at a greater risk of developing one.1
Some who drink heavily can develop a physical and emotional dependency on alcohol. If you are worried about the amount you drink and concerned about the possibility of addiction, look for these signs and ask for help:
- Increased tolerance to alcohol
- Lack of hangover symptoms
- Drinking at inappropriate times or places
- Changes in friendships
- Hiding alcohol
- Avoiding loved ones
- Increased lethargy or depression
Effects on the Body
Over time alcohol affects the body and can even cause fatal damage. Alcohol doesn’t just affect your everyday life (such as your job, relationships and finances), but prolonged use can damage every part of your body.
The brain cells will start to shrink and your entire brain will get smaller as the frontal lobes shrink. This affects your ability to think, learn and remember. It is also more difficult to maintain body temperature and control your movements.
Long-term use affects the liver’s ability to break down and remove harmful substances from your body.
Chronic, heavy drinking is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease
Because alcohol is classified as a carcinogen, those who have a dependency are more likely to develop cancers such as:
- Head and Neck cancer
- Liver cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Breast cancer
Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can lead to pancreatitis.
Alcohol can change your behavior and leave you without the mental clarity to make smart decisions.
7. Lung infections
Those with alcoholism have a hard time fighting bacteria and viruses, and could be more susceptible to pneumonia.2
8. Immune system
Heavy drinking weakens the body’s ability to fight diseases.
Too much alcohol can cause yellowing of the skin, decreased body hair, and spider veins.
10. Stomach and Intestines
Alcohol can lead to malnutrition as it can block absorption of important vitamins and minerals. It can also cause other stomach problems like:
- Painful ulcers
- Frequent diarrhea
Get Help Right Away
Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the United States. It can be difficult to avoid mostly because it is at the heart of many social gatherings. Because it can literally affect every organ in your body, early treatment for alcohol addiction is crucial. Footprints combines traditional treatment with holistic approaches to help you overcome your addiction. Contact us immediately if you believe you need help, and get started on the path to a healthy life.
1What’s “at-risk” or “heavy” drinking?. www.rethinkingdrinking.niaaa.nih.gov. (accessed Nov 29 2018).
2 The Effects of Alcohol on Your Body. www.healthline.com. (accessed Nov 29 2018).