Many people ask, “how does alcohol impact the body,” and “are there long-term effects of alcohol?” If you or someone close to you is struggling with alcoholism, it’s vital to understand alcohol’s effect on the body, and what types of treatments are available.
Why is Alcohol Addictive?
Alcohol is highly addictive because of the impact it has on GABA and other systems in the body. Alcohol can reduce negative feelings and increase pleasurable feelings. Over time, when individuals drink to manage stress, they feel temporary relief from emotional discomfort, but when they are no longer drinking, they’re more likely to experience worse negative emotional states.
This results in a self-fueling cycle where that same individual drinks to get rid of the negative feelings and then feels even worse when they aren’t drinking, so they drink to get rid of the negative feelings, and so forth.
There are other risk factors, though.
Individual mental health can contribute to an increased risk of alcoholism. It is common for individuals struggling with alcoholism to also suffer from depression or anxiety disorders.
Ongoing alcohol abuse can lead to the development of mental health disorders or exacerbate existing mental health disorders.
In these cases, it’s essential to get dual diagnosis treatment after your initial alcohol detox program.
Genetics is one of the most significant contributing risk factors to alcoholism. Many genetic markers can leave you predisposed to addictive behavior, especially alcoholism. If other members of your family struggle with alcohol abuse, you are more likely to struggle as well.
Your environment can increase your risk of developing alcohol dependence. If you live in close proximity to establishments that serve alcohol, or you live in systemic poverty, struggle with other addictions or domestic violence in the home, or have undiagnosed Trauma from childhood, these can all increase your chances of developing alcohol addiction. If you live in a home where other family members abuse alcohol, you are also more likely to abuse alcohol.
How Does Alcohol Impact the Body?
Alcohol changes the physical structure of your brain function and chemistry, overloading the pleasure centers and diminishing impulse control or decision-making from the prefrontal cortex. When this happens, it can be difficult to control how much they drink or stop drinking entirely. What’s more, long-term alcohol consumption exacerbates these impacts on the body and makes it difficult for individuals to feel any sense of pleasure from everyday activities like exercise, healthy eating, or sex.
What Are the Long-Term Effects of Alcohol?
- Alcoholism can weaken the immune system and increase sickness.
- Alcohol can lead to or worsen existing mental health problems like depression or anxiety.
- Alcohol abuse can lead to chronic high blood pressure, liver disease, heart disease, stroke, or digestive issues.
- Long-term effects of alcoholism can cause learning and memory issues, decrease school or work performance, and increase the risk of dementia.
- Alcoholism can increase the risk of liver cancer, breast cancer, rectum cancer, colon cancer, and throat cancer.
- Alcohol can lead to social problems, particularly relationship disruptions, job problems, and unemployment.
How to Find Alcohol Detox Programs
If you are ready to find an alcohol detox program after asking, “how does alcohol impact the body,” and “is there an alcohol effect on the body long term,” you can turn to many resources to find a good fit.
Primary Care Physicians
Firstly, you can turn to your primary care physician for recommendations for addiction treatment facilities. Most doctors can give a list of in-network providers to make it easier for you to manage the cost of care.
There are also addiction resources available online. If you connect with local AA chapters, you can also find recommendations for local alcohol detox programs.
If you know anyone else who has completed alcohol rehab, they might also be able to provide recommendations.
When choosing a facility, it is essential to consider treatment centers like those under the Centric Behavioral Health umbrella. Centric Behavioral Health Group specializes in alcohol detox programs. The effects of alcohol are such that withdrawal symptoms pose a high risk of medical complications, even death. With the right alcohol detox program and regular 24-hour supervision, your chance of these complications is reduced, and you are kept much more comfortable than you would be trying to detox on your own.
After completing your alcohol detox programs, we can help you transition smoothly into your ongoing therapy schedule through residential or outpatient treatment plans.