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What are the Effects of Excessive Alcohol Consumption?

Lisa Taylor
Lisa TaylorAddiction Counsellor

Newton's Third Law of Motion states that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction. For example, you pushing against a wall results in that wall pushing back by way of its load bearing design. If it did not push back, it would fall. It turns out that we can apply a very similar 'law' to excessive alcohol consumption. Excessive drinking is met with opposite forces in a way that can lead to some significant problems.

These opposite forces manifest themselves physically, psychologically, and socially. Simply put, the person who consistently drinks too much will discover his or her drinking habits are harming his/her body, his/her mind, and his/her social interactions. It is all part of the problem known as alcohol abuse.

Do you drink too much? Are you visiting our website because you are beginning to notice that drinking is causing problems? If so, you should also know that help is available. You do not have to continue travelling down a road that could ultimately destroy you. Treatment and support are already available if you are willing to take the steps necessary to access it. That first step is calling and speaking to one of our counsellors.

Alcohol Damages Your Body

Every time you drink, your body has to go into 'defence' mode to protect itself. Why? Because alcohol is a toxin. Even worse, the liver creates more toxins as it breaks down the alcohol. These toxins travel throughout the body where they wreak havoc of all kinds. This is why alcoholics tend to be less healthy, in general, than those who do not drink excessively.

One of the most severe problems related to excessive alcohol consumption is liver failure. Over time, consistent exposure to alcohol breaks down liver tissue until it can no longer perform as designed. This is a serious issue. Keep in mind that the liver's primary function is to filter the blood of toxic substances. It also contributes to the production of many of the chemicals required for digestion. If the liver stops functioning, the body literally dies of poisoning.

What you may not know is that there is no cure or treatment for liver failure. If your liver fails as a result of persistent and excessive drinking, the only thing that will prevent death is a liver transplant.

Other physical problems associated with excessive drinking include high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, unhealthy weight gain or loss, increased cancer risk, pancreatitis, diabetes, and a weakened immune system. Do you really want to keep drinking, knowing that you are at risk of all of these things?

Alcohol Damages Your Mind

Excessive alcohol consumption damages your mind by stimulating certain responses in the brain. This should be evident by the fact that drinking too much causes you to feel intoxicated. Those feelings are the direct result of the brain releasing certain chemicals in an effort to combat the sedating effects of alcohol.

The casual drinker is usually in no danger because the brain is able to overcome without any serious repercussions. The same cannot be said for the problem drinker, alcohol abuser, or alcoholic. Persistent alcohol excess can cause the brain to reach a point where it can no longer adequately overcome. This can result in chemical changes within the brain that lead to all sorts of problems. For example, alcohol abusers tend to suffer from:

  • impaired judgement
  • impaired cognitive ability
  • lack of common reasoning
  • lack of inhibition
  • greater willingness to engage in risky behaviour
  • greater tendency toward emotional outbursts
  • greater tendency toward mood swings.

A person who persists in alcohol abuse over long periods of time is significantly more likely to develop a secondary mental illness such as clinical depression or anxiety. Indeed, there is actually a name for this: dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis scenario is one in which the problem drinker is diagnosed with both alcoholism and a secondary mental illness. The most common dual diagnosis is one of alcoholism and depression.

Is dual diagnosis a bigger problem than alcoholism alone? Absolutely. A person with a dual diagnosis must be treated in a way that addresses both problems without causing any further damage. This is never an easy thing to do. Doctors and therapists often have to concentrate on one of the two problems first, in the hopes that treatment does not cause the other problem to get worse.

Alcohol Damages the Rest of Your Life

The social risks of excessive alcohol consumption are numerous. We will talk about two of them that affect nearly every alcohol abuser. First is the breakup of the family. Excessive drinking ruins families by causing contention between spouses or partners. The drinking partner becomes a person who is not dependable; he or she becomes someone who no longer puts effort into making the relationship work. Sometimes the alcohol abuser even becomes violent.

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Alcohol also breaks up the family by destroying relationships between parents and children. An alcohol abusing parent no longer has the skills or ability to parent effectively, causing considerable emotional and psychological harm to their children. It is very common for an alcoholic to lose all contact with a partner and children due to these damaged relationships.

Second, persistent alcohol excess tends to cause chronic poverty. The alcohol abuser can no longer be trusted at work due to regular tardiness and numerous absences. If the individual manages to hold onto his or her job – and this is not always a given – he or she is passed over for promotions, ignored when overtime becomes available and is left to languish in his/her current position without any hope for advancement.

In many cases, the alcohol abuser actually loses his or her job. Future employment is likely to be in a position that does not pay well. This begins an unending cycle that results in the alcohol abuser having no money and no prospects. It can even lead to crime as a means of supplying one's alcohol habit.

Time to Break the Cycle

The adverse effects of excessive alcohol consumption are real. The risks of persistent alcohol abuse are too great for you to continue down the road to alcoholism. Please take the steps necessary to break the cycle if you find yourself drinking too much, too often. That first step is contacting us.

We are an independent referral organisation that can connect you with those who provide effective alcohol treatment. We work with a full range of treatment providers including private rehab clinics and counsellors. One call is all it takes to start getting your life back on track. Do it now, before your drinking problem completely destroys your life.

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