Alcohol has many harmful effects on the body. These effects start to appear just after you have taken your first sip. Approximately 1/3 of the consumed alcohol is absorbed when it reaches the stomach and immediately passes to the bloodstream. The remaining part is absorbed more slowly in the small intestines. Alcohol in bloodstream, can spread to almost every biological part thanks to blood circulation and begins to show the effect. Because of its rapid absorption into blood, the effects of alcohol on the body begin to appear approximately 30-40 seconds after drinking.
Side Effects of Alcohol Abuse
The effects of alcohol on the body can be categorized as short and long term effects.
Short-term effects begin to emerge immediately with absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream and its reaching to the relevant organs and can be observed every time one drinks.
The most important short-term effects of alcohol can be listed as follows:
- Speech disorder
- Defect of vision
- Lack of coordination and difficulty in maintaining balance
- Extreme mood changes
- Recall Difficulty / Memory Problems
- The weakening of perception and reflexes
- Nausea and vomiting
- Slow breathing
The effects of alcohol on the central nervous system (Short-term effects) are felt more as the amount of alcohol in the blood increases. These effects usually disappear as the amount of alcohol in the blood decreases, and are not seen unless one drinks alcohol again. How fast the amount of alcohol in the blood increases depends on many things, such as age, gender, weight, general health and whether any additional drugs are taken with alcohol or not. Those who develop alcohol tolerance may be less affected by those with lower tolerance levels. Therefore, taking the same amount of alcohol can have different effects on different people.
In addition to the short-term side effects of alcoholism, there are also long-term effects developed by frequent and long-term alcohol use. These effects are not seen immediately after the use of alcohol, they may take months or even years to occur. These disorders are more permanent than the short-term effects of alcohol and are more difficult to treat.
The long-term effects of alcohol includes:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Different types of liver diseases
- Respiratory tract infections
Effects of Alcohol on Body Organs
Almost every part of the human body is damaged by alcohol. The higher amount of alcohol will occurs the greater damage. We can list the negative effects of alcohol on body organs as follows:
The effects of alcohol in the brain can be felt quickly. Brain controls the body’s motor functions. When the alcohol enters the bloodstream and reaches to the brain, the effects will be visible. We call also these effects short-term effects.
- Drinking too much significantly affects brain function. First of all, there is a decrease in the ability to control the movement and constant mood changes. The person has difficulty in pronouncing the names, the reflexes are slowed down, and they react late to the external stimuli and can also experience a loss of balance. They cannot think in a healthy way and their memory gets weak. Under the influence of alcohol, they remember past experiences difficulty.
- Alcohol affects central nervous sytem. It may change its structure and function. Communication between the other organs of the body and the brain weakens. You cannot accurately evaluate the data from your senses and control your body. This produces a number of effects, such as delayed response, slowing down of reflexes, difficulty in controlling movements, tremors and hallucinations. The will weakens with memory. The ability to concentrate and muscle functions are greatly affected.
- The traffic and workplace accidents due to the effects of alcohol that we mentioned above. Unfortunately many people lose their lives in accidents.
- Alcohol causes harm to thinking, learning and remembering abilities. It kills brain cells and peripheral nerves. This damages are permanent.
- Vitamin B1 deficiency provoked by alcohol usage causes constant changes in emotions and thoughts. It even may cause permanent brain damage that may result in Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which affects memory.
- The majority of people who drink alcohol very often experience sleep disorders. These people estrange themselves away from social, work and family life. This situation causes family problems, divorces and job losses which result in severe depressions and other problems.
Heart is one of the most affected organs from alcohol.
- Over time, the use of heavy alcohol weakens the heart and increases the risk of heart attack.
- Long-term alcohol use leads to increased blood pressure and cardiac arrhythmias.
- The toxic effect of alcohol causes damage to the heart muscles. It decreases the pumping power by weakening the heart muscles.
- It enlarges the veins, causing the skin color to become reddening and increases the skin temperature.
The liver is the organ that processes the alcohol. Liver enzymes first convert alcohol to acetaldehyde, then into acetate, and then into other compounds. Since this process occurs very slowly, alcohol consumption tends to exhaust and damage the liver tissue.
- The most harmful effect of alcohol on the liver is that it causes fat buildup in the liver. Fatty liver can cause liver failure and death over time.
- Damaging of the liver due to alcohol use can cause various problems, such as alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Pancreas is the organ that produces insulin enzymes and regulates blood sugar levels.
- High alcohol consumption can cause pancreatic cancer.
- Long-term use of alcohol can lead to swelling of blood vessels around the pancreas, leading to pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).
People who consume alcohol frequently may experience stomach ailments. Stomach burn which is one of the short-term effects, is caused by alcohol’s corrosion of the mucous membrane layer of the stomach.
- The effects of alcohol on the body include increased gastric acid production. This causes a discomfort in the stomach and inflammation. This may cause ulcers, even fatal internal bleeding.
- High alcohol consumption can cause stomach, larynx, pharynx cancer.
- It causes irritation of the throat, even more inflammation, hemorrhage due to cracks in the vessels.
Blood and Immune System
- Continuous use of alcohol prevents the production of red and white blood cells. When there is not enough red blood cells to carry oxygen anemia is seen.
- Chronic heavy alcohol use also suppresses the immune system. Lack of white blood cells weakens the immune system. It makes you vulnerable to bacterial and viral infections.
Alcohol affects the testosterone levels in the body. As a result, alcohol use decreases sexual desire in men. It may cause infertility and erection problems.
Similarly, it can lead to a decrease in fertility in women. It increases the risk of miscarriage and premature birth in pregnant women. It may cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) in babies inside womb.
Get Help Ending Alcohol Addiction
If you consume excessive alcohol in one sitting or regularly drink alcohol, you are at risk of experiencing the above mentioned health problems. To reduce and eliminate the damage caused by alcohol, you should reduce the frequency of drinking, reduce the amount of alcohol you take in one sitting, and if you can, you should stop drinking completely.
Ending the excessive drinking, reduces health problems, as well as help to prevent alcohol-related traffic accidents and eliminates family problems, low motivation, lack of self-confidence which reduces the quality of life of an individual.