Dangers of Alcohol
Alcohol has been counted among the group of drugs known as depressants, whose function is retarding vital functions; this leads to unsteadiness in movement, failure to respond swiftly, slurred speech, and distorted perceptions. With regard to the way it impacts the human mind, alcohol is best construed as a substance which decreases an individual’s capability of rational thought and garbles his/her judgment. While it is grouped under depressants, the quantity of alcohol ingested helps determine the kind of impact. The majority of individuals consume alcohol for its stimulating impact (e.g., a glass of wine for â€œloosening up.â€) However, if an individual drinks a greater quantity than his/her body is able to handle, he/she begins experiencing its depressant effect, manifesting as loss of control and balance, or feeling â€œstupidâ€.
To certain individuals, a single glass of wine or two to three beers is simply a part of socializing and relaxing. Meanwhile, others drink because of major physical, social and psychological issues. The substance has different impacts on males, females and youth. Distinct social and health hazards have been linked to different groups. The foremost step when finding out whether alcohol is creating problems in one’s life or not is, grasping the risks related to drinking, which transcend mere hangovers, or unclear speech, or making a fool of oneself before others.
The Chemical Effect of Alcohol on the Body
Alcohol, if consumed when one’s stomach is empty, impacts the body within a single minute. The reason for this is, contrary to food, alcoholic drinks don’t require any time for digestion. Once the drink hits the stomach, ADH (alcohol dehydrogenase), catalase and CYP2E1 (cytochrome P450) (which are all natural enzymes) work together in converting the alcohol into acetaldehyde, which is a poison quite similar to formaldehyde. The impacts of consuming alcohol, like slurred speech, blurry vision, dizziness, unsteadiness, and numbness, are all due to ethanol, a chemical that is formed from sugar fermentation.
The effects of alcohol, if consumed in moderation, will wear off fast, since the liver works swiftly to flush it out of the body. But the hazards of the substance grow rather evident for heavy drinkers, as their bodies lose the ability to successfully moderate and flush out the large quantities of the substance entering the body. It is here that alcohol toxicity resulting from acetaldehyde enters the picture. Ultimately, a heavy drinker’s liver arrives at its saturation point, when it is unable to filter alcohol any longer. The permeation of acetaldehyde into the drinker’s bloodstream may lead to grave health issues. According to Elmhurst University, when the human body is unable to safely metabolize alcohol any longer, it can result in liver damage, cirrhosis and hepatitis. Additionally, studies indicate that acetaldehyde can result in alcoholism owing to its direct impact upon the drinker’s brain. The brain’s nerve transmitters respond to this chemical (i.e., acetaldehyde), forming morphine-like compounds that can result in addiction.
Endocrine and digestive glands. Excessive alcohol consumption may lead to irregular activation of pancreas-secreted digestive enzymes. The accumulation of such enzymes may result in inflammation, a condition that is termed ‘pancreatitis’. Pancreatitis may grow into a chronic problem, causing major complications.
Blood glucose levels. The human pancreas aids in regulating the bodyâ€™s utilization of insulin and its reaction to glucose. Inadequately functioning liver and pancreas have been associated with hypoglycemia risks (i.e., low blood glucose levels). Contrarily, an impaired pancreas can impede the human body’s production of sufficient insulin for utilizing sugar, which may result in hyperglycemia, or the presence of excess sugar within the bloodstream. If an individual’s body is unable to balance and manage levels of blood glucose, he/she might end up experiencing greater diabetes-connected side-effects and complications. Therefore, it is vital that individuals suffering from hypoglycemia or diabetes mellitus avoid consuming alcohol in excessive quantities.
Inflammatory damage. The human liver aids in breaking down and eliminating toxic substances (like alcohol) from the body. Chronic drinking hampers this process. Furthermore, it increases risks of chronic liver disease and inflammation. The scarring associated with the latter has been termed as cirrhosis. Scar tissue formation ends up destroying the liver. With increased damage to the liver, it becomes increasingly difficult for the organ to eliminate toxins from the body. Liver ailments are lethal and give rise to waste and toxin accumulation within the body. Females display greater likelihood of contracting alcohol-linked liver disease. Their bodies display greater tendency of absorbing larger quantities of alcohol, and require more processing time. Additionally, females experience liver damage quicker than males.
Central nervous system (CNS). Among the easiest means of seeing the effect of alcoholic drinks on the drinker’s body is through awareness of the way it impacts the CNS. Slurred speech forms one among the foremost indications that an individual is drunk. The substance has the capability of reducing communication between the body and brain, rendering coordination and balance challenging. Hence, drunk driving is prohibited. Since alcohol is more damaging to the CNS, the drinker can experience tickly sensations and numbness in the hands and feet. Further, drinking renders it hard for the brain to record long-term memory. Still further, it decreases the capability of clear and rational thinking. With time, damage may occur to the frontal lobe, a region of the human brain which is controls emotions, judgment and short-term memory, besides other key roles. Acute and long-term alcohol misuse may result in lasting damage to the brain, giving rise to a memory-impacting brain disorder known as ‘Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome’.
Dependency. Certain heavy drinkers might end up developing an emotional as well as physical dependency on the substance. Alcohol withdrawal may be both challenging and fatal. An alcoholic typically requires professional assistance to get over alcohol dependency. Consequently, a large number of alcoholics use medical detoxification for sobering up, which is the safest means of making sure physical addiction is gotten over. Based on withdrawal symptom risks, detoxification may be managed via hospitalization or outpatient appointments.
Digestive system. The link between the human digestive system and drinking may not be instantly apparent. Adverse impacts typically manifest themselves only after the damage is done. Further, with increased drinking frequency and amount, the damage increases. Drinking may cause damage to digestive tract tissues and stop the intestines from performing their functions of vitamin/nutrient absorption and food digestion. Consequently, the drinker may become malnourished. Moreover, heavy drinking may result in bloating, gassiness, painful or loose stools, and feeling full. Heavy drinkers also commonly experience hemorrhoids or ulcers (because of constipation and dehydration). This can lead to lethal internal bleeding. Ulcers may prove life-threatening if not promptly diagnosed and cured.
Circulatory system. Alcohol has the ability to adversely impact the drinker’s lungs and heart. Chronic drinkers display greater likelihood of contracting heart ailments as compared to non-drinkers. Additionally, female drinkers display greater likelihood of developing heart ailments as compared to male drinkers. Some complications associated with the circulatory system are elevated blood pressure levels, myocardial infarction, abnormal heartbeat, heart ailments, heart failure, stroke, and difficulty with pumping blood across the body.
Reproductive and sexual health. Male alcoholics display increased likelihood of experiencing erectile dysfunction. Furthermore, heavy drinking may decrease libido through impeding the production of the sex hormone. Females prone to excessive drink might stop menstruating, thereby increasing their infertility risks. Finally, pregnant women who consume excessive alcoholic drinks display high risks of preterm deliveries, stillbirths or miscarriages.
Expecting mothers who consume alcohol put the fetus at great risk. FASD or fetal alcohol syndrome disorder represents a serious issue.
Muscular and skeletal systems. Chronic alcohol consumption can hamper the body’s mechanism that maintains bone strength. The habit can lead to thinner bones, thereby increasing risks of fractures in the event the individual takes a fall. Further, if a fracture does occur, it will take longer to mend. Drinking alcohol can also result in muscle cramps, weakness and, ultimately, atrophy.
Immune system. Heavy drinking adversely impacts the immune system of the body, making it harder for the drinker’s body to drive away viruses and germs that attack it. Chronic heavy drinks also exhibit greater likelihood of contracting tuberculosis or pneumonia as compared to the general public. Roughly one in ten tuberculosis cases across the globe may be associated with drinking. Lastly, drinking exacerbates risks for various kinds of cancer, such as breast, colon and mouth.
The Danger of Withdrawal
Alcohol’s dangers do not come to an end when the drinker ceases its consumption. Rather, extremely heavy drinkers commonly experience acute withdrawal symptoms which require professional monitoring. This doesnâ€™t mean that it isnâ€™t possible for drinkers to reduce consumption by themselves; nevertheless, for chronic heavy drinkers, professional assistance is highly recommended. Some psychological and physical alcohol withdrawal impacts are anxiety, depression, moodiness, tiredness, shudders, swift emotional swings, bad dreams, trembling, headache, clammy skin and heart palpitations. Though the majority of withdrawal symptoms are minor and decrease over time, the condition can also give rise to major issues like fever, delirium tremens or hallucinations, seizures, and loss of consciousness, which require professional treatment at a private outpatient or inpatient clinic. According to MedScape, delirium tremens is â€œa medical emergency with a high mortality rate, making early recognition and treatment essential.â€
Foundation for a Drug-Free World. (2019). What is alcohol? Retrieved from https://www.drugfreeworld.org/drugfacts/alcohol.html
Healthline Media. (2019). The effects of alcohol on your body. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol/effects-on-body#1
Rehabs. (2019). Dangers of alcohol in men, women and teenagers. Retrieved from https://luxury.rehabs.com/alcohol-addiction/alcohol/
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