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Today it seems that drinking alcohol is very much a part of our culture, and as a result, many people enjoy sharing a drink. Since drinking alcohol is so common, realizing that you have a drinking problem can be a challenge. Alcohol abuse is serious, and the health effects are numerous. It not only causes damage to your health, but can put your family as well as strangers at risk. Alcohol abuse is responsible for thousands of deaths of innocent people every year. It also is a catalyst in domestic violence and violent crime incidents daily. It is important to learn about the signs and symptoms of alcoholism and what you can do to intervene before it is too late.
Social drinking is common for many people. The difference arises when alcohol becomes your focus. You may find that you will only attend social events if they include alcohol, or you are unable to enjoy yourself. Drinking becomes more important than spending time with your family, connecting with your friends, or even going to work. You may find that you are dealing with feelings you are experiencing with alcohol, and that the alcohol makes you forget those feelings of pain, hurt, or depression for a little while. You might find that the alcohol makes you more depressed, or you may find that it makes you angry and violent. In these cases, you can be a danger to yourself or to others.
Alcoholism is the final stage in which you are physically dependent on alcohol and do not have control over the amount of alcohol you consume. There are some causes of alcoholism. Some people seem to be able to drink socially and never have a problem, while others become alcoholics. If you have a family history of alcoholism, you are at a higher risk of becoming an alcoholic. If you have a history of mental illness, the alcohol abuse can worsen your mental illness or it can even create new symptoms. If you are around family members or friends who drink, you are more likely to do so too, since there is a good amount of pressure in life to fit in no matter what age you are. Additionally, if you have been going through a big life change or stressful situations, you may turn to alcohol to help you get through the situation.
There are serious health complications that arise as a result of long-term alcohol use. Unfortunately, it affects pretty much every organ you can find in your body. First, it causes liver inflammation, which can lead to cirrhosis, which is both a serious and irreversible liver condition. You are also more at risk of stroke, cancer, and heart disease. Often alcoholics have nutritional deficiencies and stomach problems. Birth defects in unborn children can be a serious concern for pregnant drinkers. Erectile dysfunction can be a health problem for men, and both men and women can suffer from neurological problems, like confusion, trouble with your memory, and numbness.
Denial is one of the most powerful symptoms of the disease. An alcoholic has such a strong desire to drink that the mind will find ways to make drinking sound rational. A person who is an alcoholic may underestimate the costs to themselves and their family. An alcoholic may not just be saying this; they may actually believe that it is not affecting them, but any outsider can see that it is. If you have a loved one who is an alcoholic, it is going to take time to get them to recovery. As stated earlier, denial tends to be a problem, and so is blaming others. The alcoholic may blame you for "over exaggerating" the problem or tell you it is your fault that they are drinking so much.
Please keep in mind that you cannot force an alcoholic to get help. You also need to understand that your loved one will need outside support in order to make it to recovery. Willpower alone will not get the job done at this point because a tolerance to alcohol has been built up over time, and the withdrawal symptoms will likely be very painful and unpleasant. An alcoholic doesn't suddenly become better. Recovery is a process, and an alcoholic, once detox has occurred, will likely continue to make daily decisions about whether to drink or not. Belonging to a support group may help in this matter. If you are a family member of an alcoholic, it would not be a bad idea for you and your children to also attend counseling so that you can understand the process better and know how you can best support your loved one.
One short term health effect on the body is a loss of muscle control. This shows itself in slurred speech, impaired judgment, and poor coordination. This can lead to falling and accidents. Dizziness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and hangovers are also common short term health effects. These behaviors are showing you that the substance is poisoning your body and you need to get rid of it, much like you will throw up if you have had food poisoning. Alcohol affects the body's sense of balance and can lead to a feeling of nausea and dizziness. The hangovers that occur can be due to the dehydration of the body that is caused by the consumption of alcohol.
Hangover effects can be felt for hours following the consumption of the alcohol. Alcohol can also have short term effects on you if it negatively interacts with your medications. It interacts negatively with at minimum 100 different medications. Antihistamines that are taken with alcohol can cause drowsiness. Taking acetaminophen with alcohol will increase your risk of liver damage. One long term health effect of alcohol use is if you are pregnant when drinking. This can lead to a number of birth defects, and the most serious is fetal alcohol syndrome.
Physical abnormalities, problems with behavior, and cognitive delays are common for children born from mothers who drink alcohol. To keep this from happening, do not drink while you are pregnant, not at all. Liver inflammation and cirrhosis of the liver symptoms include yellowing of the skin, urine, and eyeballs, fever, and abdominal pain. The statistics show that about one out of five heavy drinkers will have cirrhosis of the liver. Alcohol destroys cells of the liver and the ability for it to create new cells. The liver is necessary in order to metabolize alcohol. Cancer is a long term health effect of drinking alcohol.
Some of the common cancers include cancer of the throat, mouth, colon, and esophagus. Another long term health effect of drinking is heart disease. Long term heavy drinking will increase a person's risk for heart disease as well as high blood pressure. Pancreaitis is a problem that occurs from inflammation of the pancreas. The pancreas is needed for digestion of food, and the symptoms of pancreaitis are weight loss and severe abdominal pain. This condition can also threaten your life. More health effects include damage to your brain, bleeding in your esophagus, nerve damage, erectile dysfunction in men, depression, and insomnia.
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