Long Term Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol remains one of the most popular psychoactive substances in the United States, with more than half of all adults drinking on at least a monthly basis. While alcohol is legal to purchase and consume and is popular at many social events, parties, and sports games, it has the potential to cause addiction. The long term effects of alcohol abuse can also become severe, with alcoholism and alcohol abuse causing conditions like liver damage and neurological problems.
Although plenty of people use alcohol responsibly, nearly 1 out of every 4 adults engage in binge drinking. Binge drinking occurs when women consume 4 or men consume 5 or more servings of alcohol within 2 hours.
What Are the Long Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and creates calming and relaxing effects during intoxication. However, consuming large amounts of alcohol can induce negative emotions, such as anger. Alcohol intoxication can cause memory loss, impaired coordination, and poor judgment, which can lead to arguments, fights, and reckless behavior.
Your liver is capable of processing one serving of alcohol every hour and a half, so engaging in behaviors like binge drinking can put excess strain on your liver. The long term effects of alcohol abuse can make it difficult to balance your personal obligations, career, and relationships with your drinking habits. Unfortunately, many of the long term effects of alcohol abuse are permanent, especially when it involves your liver.
Other long term effects of alcohol use are physical dependency and aggravation of underlying medical and mental health conditions. Since alcoholism causes you to compulsively drink despite wanting to quit or dealing with harmful consequences as a result of your alcohol use, your brain and body can become dependent on alcohol in order to function. If you develop a physical dependency on alcohol, it can lead to potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, like delirium tremors.
How is Alcoholism Treated?
Alcoholism is a chronic condition, making treatment necessary in order to fully recover. Since physical dependence and tolerance are common long term effects of alcohol abuse, detox is the first step in your recovery process. Many inpatient and outpatient treatment centers offer medically supervised detox programs to ensure your withdrawal symptoms are limited and manageable.
Some of the most effective treatments for alcoholism include:
- Short-term and long-term inpatient programs
- Partial hospitalization programs
- Intensive outpatient programs
- Peer-led recovery support groups, like NA, AA, and SMART Recovery
- Individual, group, and family counseling
Inpatient care offers treatment in a residential setting, which provides additional structure and support. Most inpatient programs are for four weeks, while long-term residential programs may also offer transitional housing and sober living options.
Outpatient programs are great for continuing treatment following completion of an inpatient program.
Finding Help for a Drinking Problem Today
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, it’s important to remember that the long term effects of alcohol abuse are serious and early treatment is essential. Reaching out for help is the first step in your recovery journey. To find out more about our programs, or to discuss your treatment options, contact us today at 717.969.9126.