What are the harmful effects of alcohol?
It is a well-known fact that the excess consumption of alcohol is bad for the body. You have probably also heard that alcohol can have an adverse effect on many of your organs, such as your heart, brain, liver, kidneys, digestive system, nervous system and so on. However, not a lot of us are aware of how alcohol affects the body. There are several harmful effects of alcohol abuse on the different organs of the body, which include:
Brain and central nervous system
Alcohol works as a depressant, which has the ability to slow down the central nervous system in the body. It also induces sleep and causes excess drowsiness. Drinking alcohol in a large amount can lead to respiratory failure, coma or even death. The motor skills and reflexes of the body are usually affected adversely because of alcohol consumption. Over a period of time, it may affect your ability to react promptly to different situations Permanent brain damage (wet brain and Korsakoff's syndrome) or other mental disorders are quite likely to occur due to long term drinking or alcohol addiction.
There is a relation between the consumption of alcohol and your eyes, which means that you may notice vision problem as a result of alcoholism. Unfortunately, the correlation is not just limited to the consumption of alcohol and vision problems. Other senses that could also be affected are hearing, smell and taste.
Your lungs can be weakened significantly because of alcohol abuse, because of which they are prone to infections and other health problems. Many people have experienced severe breathing problems due to excess alcohol consumption, which has led to death.
Alcoholic fatty liver is a common condition seen in many individuals who drink more alcohol than is recommended. This health condition can cause liver failure, coma or even death. Studies indicate that chronic alcohols are at a high risk of diseases like hepatitis and cirrhosis.
Some of the common heart problems that can occur because of alcohol consumption include reduced ability to pump blood, weakening, abnormal heart signals, enlargement and irregular heartbeat. The production of red and white blood cells is also inhibited because of alcoholism.
Almost all health experts strongly advise women to refrain from consuming any amount of alcohol while they are pregnant or perhaps even after the baby is born, in case they are breastfeeding. This is because alcohol can lead to additional problems for pregnant women and their babies, as compared to others. Studies indicate that alcohol consumed at any stage pregnancy could lead to severe complications, which include Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), birth defects, low birth weight, premature delivery and perhaps even miscarriage or stillbirth.
When a woman drinks alcohol during the course of pregnancy, she exposes her unborn baby to a lot of harm. Anything that is consumed by a pregnant woman is passed on from the mother, to the baby through the umbilical cord. Any amount of alcohol in the baby's blood could have an adverse effect on the baby's growth and development, not just within the womb, but even after birth. One of the most common harmful effects of alcohol during pregnancy is FASD in the baby, which could lead to odd facial features, behavioral problems, learning disabilities and defects in the heart, lungs, bones, eyes, ears and the urinary tract. Unfortunately, the harmful effects of alcohol on the fetus are not evident through prenatal tests. In many cases, the symptoms of FASD are not even evident for the first few months or years of the child's life
Therefore, even the smallest amount of alcohol should be eliminated completely from a pregnant woman's diet. In fact, all women who are planning to conceive soon should stay away from alcohol.
What are the benefits of giving up alcohol?
Studies indicate that alcohol consumption is responsible for approximately 45,000 deaths in the United States each year. These figures only include the number of liver diseases that have been induced by alcohol consumption; if the number of alcohol-related accidents and homicide cases are taken into account, the figures are likely to go much higher. Therefore, those who drink more than the recommended amount of alcohol on a regular basis should be made aware of the harmful effects the substance. Moreover, there are numerous benefits of giving up alcohol, or detoxification, as many people like to refer to it.
People have been known to quit the habit of alcohol consumption for different reasons; some do it because they would like to lead a healthier life, whereas others have to do it because they have been diagnosed with a medical problem. There are many who even quit drinking alcohol for weight loss purposes. Whatever, the reasons for quitting the habit, there are several benefits of giving up alcohol, some of which include:
- Improvement of liver function: As the amount of alcohol in the body reduces, the liver no longer works overtime in an attempt to convert it into sugar. Therefore, this allows your liver to perform its other important functions more effectively, thereby enhancing your overall health.
- Higher concentration and better performance: The ability of your brain to focus on various tasks increases considerably, when there is no alcohol in your system. This means that you can concentrate on work or other activities in a better manner.
- Reducing digestive problems: Several uncomfortable symptoms like vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, loss of appetite and sweating can be checked or controlled to some extent, by eliminating alcohol from the system.
Several individuals who have quit the habit of consuming alcohol claim that the mental benefits are usually evident before the physical ones, in the form of a positive state of mind. However, there are no clinical studies to prove this claim.
How to quit drinking ?
There are many people who would like to quit the habit of drinking, but do not know how to do so. Therefore, their first few attempts may not always be successful, even though they are committed and motivated. Fortunately, there are certain ways to stop drinking alcohol, which can help them improve their chances of success. Given below are a few lifestyle changes that can make it easier to quite the habit of consuming alcohol:
- Identifying the problem, accepting it and making a commitment to overcome the problem. Denial, which is common in many alcoholics only makes the problem worse
- Setting goals that are realistic and being prepared to face any roadblocks or failure.
- Seeking help and support from family, relative and friends, as overcoming a problem alone is not easy. This can be quite a challenge for most people, as they find it embarrassing to let others know about the alcohol addiction
- Looking for ways to stay sober, which may include keeping busy in other activities
- Being prepared to deal with alcohol cravings and triggers, by planning an alternate coping strategy
- Maintaining the "Never Give Up" attitude at all times, regardless of how lengthy or difficult the detox process may seem
In case you do encounter any setbacks, it is important to regard them as temporary hurdles and then continue on the path that you have mapped out for yourself. There are many help and support groups, where you can meet others, who have managed to recover from alcoholism. Over a period of time, these groups may give you the opportunity to help someone else who is trying to look for ways to stop drinking.
answered by G R on Jun 9, 2011, 12:41:46