Alcoholism is the most severe form of alcohol abuse that there is. It involves the inability to manage or stop your drinking habits. Most alcoholics feel as though they are unable to function normally without alcohol, which can lead to many different negative consequences. Despite these negative consequences they are still unable to quit drinking.
More Men Are Drinking Alcohol
Alcohol is one of the most abused substances and men are nearly twice as susceptible to become alcoholics than women are. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are both major health problems for both men and women and the cost for every individual is huge. There have been radical differences identified between men and women and their susceptibility to developing alcohol abuse and the ways their bodies respond to it. The pattern of drinking and also the amount of alcohol drank varies between women and men. According to an article written by NIH:
Epidemiological evidence suggests that nearly 20% of adult males have alcohol abuse or suffer from alcoholism-related complications. On the other hand, only about 5–6% of adult females are alcoholics or abuse alcohol on the regular basis.
Why Do More Men Abuse Alcohol Than Women?
Women consume less alcohol than men do and seem to be less likely to develop certain risk factors for alcohol abuse and are also less likely to display characteristics that are associated with excessive drinking like drinking to alleviate stress, aggressiveness, uncontrolled behavior, drinking to feel, or antisocial behavior. It has also been said that the levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for the flooding of “feel good” chemicals in your brain, are also to blame.
Despite similar drinking habits between men and women, men’s brains released more dopamine than women’s. This is the area of the brain that is associated with reinforcement, pleasure, and addiction formation.
Side Effects of Alcohol Abuse for Men
When the body consistently takes on more alcohol than it can metabolize, the extra will build up in the bloodstream and lead to changes in your body’s chemistry and normal bodily functions. Alcoholism can lead to the development of many different chronic diseases and other health problems and has been found to contribute to at least 60 different health conditions. The most common include:
Liver Disease: Since most alcohol consumed is metabolized in the liver, it is at particularly high risk for damage. Chronic and heavy amounts of alcohol pose a very substantial risk for development.
Pancreatitis: Alcoholism and overconsumption of alcohol can also lead to this painful disease that causes inflammation of the pancreas and can oftentimes lead to hospitalization. About 70% of cases with this disease are due to those who drink large quantities of alcohol.
Cancer: Alcoholism can increase the risk of developing different cancers including cancers of the liver, colon, rectum, mouth, esophagus, larynx, and stomach. Acetaldehyde and the alcohol itself both contribute to a heightened risk of cancer in chronic alcoholics.
Gastrointestinal problems: Chronic and heavy drinking can cause a lot of problems with a person’s digestive system like stomach ulcers, heartburn, acid reflux, and gastritis. As the alcohol passes through a person’s gastrointestinal tract, it begins to show its toxic effects. When the digestive system is damaged, it can lead to dangerous internal bleeding. Alcohol is known to interfere with the body’s gastric acid secretion, which can delay gastric emptying and impair muscle movements in the bowel.
Brain Damage: Alcohol alters the brain’s receptors and neurotransmitters and can interfere with a person’s cognitive function, reactions, mood, and emotions. It also causes memory lapse, slurred speech, blurred vision, and mobility problems. Chronic alcoholism can also cause something known as “wet brain”. This occurs after a person stops drinking and they still experience severe cognitive inability and can take years to reverse if it does at all.
Are You or a Loved One Struggling with Alcoholism?
For those who are struggling with alcoholism and recognize the seriousness of this disease, inpatient rehab at a trusted facility is the best place to go if you want to get your life back on track, teach yourself about the causes of your addiction, and learn ways to avoid a relapse in the future. Alcoholism isn’t an easy thing to fight; luckily you do not have to do it on your own.