Alcohol is a depressant and doctors would also say it has a depressive effect on all your bodily systems. This means that it slows down brain function and changes the way your nerves send messages back and forth. When you drink excessively, you affect your nervous system in multiple ways. When you drink daily, your body becomes dependent on alcohol over time and expects that alcohol at that specific time. When this happens and you stop drinking your central nervous system can no longer adapt easily to the lack of alcohol so it goes into withdrawal.
Negative Effects of Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol can affect you mentally by impacting your brain’s neurotransmitters. These are chemicals that act as your brain’s messengers to other parts of your brain and nervous system. When you drink, the alcohol suppresses certain neurotransmitters in your brain. This is what can cause you to feel relaxed when drinking. Besides alcohol affecting your brain, It can also have an impact on your physical health, especially heavy drinking or binge drinking.
Consuming alcohol is very “normal” in our country. From college parties to weddings; it is popular and a part of a lot of social activities. But just like everything else, you should only enjoy in moderation. Drinking too much can lead to health problems, dependency, and alcohol addiction.
When a person who drinks too much, physically cannot stop drinking due to the fears of withdrawals and mentally obsesses about it alcohol; they have become dependent on it and is considered an alcoholic. This can happen after continuous heavy drinking for years, months, and even weeks, depending on how much and how often alcohol is being consumed. It seems easy to understand if someone has had a drinking problem for years to have collected health problems due to their alcoholism but surprisingly enough heavy drinking in a short about of time, called binge drinking can also cause major health problems.
The Rise of Binge Drinking
According to The National Library of Medicine’s Alcohol Research (NCBI), Alcohol binge drinking prevalence continues to rise, particularly among individuals ages 18 to 24. However, it is also frequent in individuals ages 65 and older.
When a person parties and drinks too much that night, mixing shots with beer and or wine, they might have the worst hangover ever and vow to never drink again because they felt so sick. The hangover may be the least of their problems. A night of binge drinking can have both short and long term effects on your body, not just your brain. And long-term damage isn’t just for heavy alcohol abusers, those who binge drink frequently can also develop many health problems.
Binge drinking is when men consume five or more drinks within about two hours. For women, it’s when they consume four or more drinks within about two hours.
Binge Drinking Short-Term Effects
- Heart- Heavy drinking can cause high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, or sudden death from heart failure.
- Kidneys- Alcohol is a diuretic, which causes the kidneys to produce more urine. This, alone or with vomiting, can lead to dehydration and dangerously low levels of sodium, potassium, and other minerals and salts.
- Lungs- Alcohol inhibits the gag reflex, which can lead to vomit, saliva, or other substances entering the lungs. This can cause inflammation or infection in the lungs.
- Pancreas- A single session of heavy alcohol use can lead to dangerously low blood sugar (hypoglycemia).
- Sexual health– Being drunk increases the chance of having unsafe sex — which can lead to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or unplanned pregnancy.
Binge Drinking Long-Term Effects
- Blood and immune system- Chronic alcohol use can lead to anemia, low platelets, and a suppressed immune system.
- Bones and muscles- Heavy long-term use of alcohol can interfere with the absorption of calcium and bone formation. This can lead to osteoporosis.
- Brain and nervous system- Heavy alcohol use increases the risk of stroke and can lead to dementia or impaired balance and coordination.
- Mental health- In addition to alcohol dependency and addiction, heavy drinkers are at higher risk of depression, anxiety, and psychosis.
- Sexual health- Chronic heavy use of alcohol can reduce fertility in men and women and decrease a man’s sex drive. Drinking while pregnant can also affect the health of the fetus.
- Intestines- Heavy alcohol intake can interfere with the absorption of vitamins and other nutrients in the gut. This can lead to malnutrition.
Cutting back on drinking can help reduce these risks but you are not clear because there are risks when you drink, no matter what the amount is. The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) recommends that men consume no more than four drinks on any day and no more than 14 drinks per week. Women should drink no more than three drinks a day and no more than seven per week.
Addiction Treatment for Alcoholism
If you or a loved one are struggling to put down that drink, Garden State Treatment Center can help. Clients receive both individual and group therapy sessions at Garden State Treatment Center. We’ll go into more detail on the program pages, but these therapies each have the multi-faceted goals of resolving traumatic events, peer support, and long-term relapse prevention.
The most important thing you can expect from your Garden State Treatment Center Treatment experience is that you will emerge from it transformed, stable, and ready to begin a lifetime of recovery.