Alcohol abuse. Alcoholism. Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), as it’s medically termed.
There all the same. It’s an addiction to alcohol, and you are highly unlikely to come out the other side of it without the professional help of your family physician, hospital or addiction treatment center, and an array of clinical staff trained in helping you to recover. Psychologically-speaking, the alcoholic may well have become the sufferer of a mental disorder (and a co-occurring disorder) in the process.
Presenting an array of psychological, physical and social issues, recovering from an addiction fully is possible, but only through abstinence – staying clean and sober. In fact, the damage done in terms of those 3 areas may be irreparable, and, thus, may be with you for the rest of your life.
Here, we will look specifically at the health risks which can be irreparable – the physical damage done to your body – such an addiction can create, and, as you can imagine, how they can present a number of highly dangerous conditions to your physical well-being, all of which should be taking seriously.
Here are 4 health risks you definitely need to know if you are abusing alcohol:
The Risk to Your Heart
Uncontrolled alcohol intake can present a number of dangers to one of the most important of your body’s organs – the heart. The heart, simply stated, is a pump that keeps blood moving around your body. It provides oxygen and nutrients to every part of you, as well as taking away carbon dioxide and waste products.
High alcohol consumption will increase your risk of the following conditions:
- Heart Disease
- Heart Attack/Stroke
- Arrhythmia (Abnormal Heart Rhythm)
- Hypertension (High Blood Pressure)
The Risk of Malignancy
Malignancy, a term also referring to cancerous growths in the body, is increased in those suffering from alcoholism. Malignancy is where abnormal cells divide without control and invade nearby healthy tissue. Tumors are either benign or malignant, meaning there are not cancerous or, more importantly, they are.
Simply by drinking alcohol, you are subjecting yourself to an increased risk of developing 1 of 7 specific cancers. By abusing your use of alcohol through high levels of consumption, that risk increases greatly. The 7 specific types of cancer you increase the risk of getting are:
- Liver cancer
- Bowel cancer
- Breast cancer
- Laryngeal (voice box) cancer
- Mouth cancer
- Pharyngeal (upper throat) cancer
- Oesophageal (food pipe) cancer
The Risk to Your Liver
Now seemingly synonymous with alcoholism, the risks to your liver are reasonably well-known. Being the largest of our internal organs, the liver performs over 500 (yes, 500) different tasks to keep our bodies healthy – most importantly, breaking down food and converting it to energy so our bodies can function, and helping our bodies to get rid of waste and fight infections.
As you can imagine, any disease of the liver is very serious. What’s important to remember here is that you generally are not aware anything is wrong until it becomes serious.
Liver disease is the term used to describe damage to the liver, which is caused by alcohol abuse. There are two types of liver disease:
- Acute is when liver problems develop over a few months, and
- Chronic, which is when damage is done to the liver over a number of years
The Risk To Your Bones
Osteopenia is a condition of low bone thickness/mass that can prompt osteoporosis, where bones become fragile and can fracture more easily, and can be brought about by extended high alcohol consumption.
Excessive alcohol intake interferes with the balance of calcium, necessary for healthy bones. Furthermore, alcoholic men may produce less testosterone, a hormone linked to bone formation). In women, chronic alcohol consumption can trigger irregular menstrual cycles, increasing the risk for osteoporosis.
All these 4 health risks – heart, malignancy, liver and bones – increase with the consumption levels of someone suffering with alcoholism. As stated, the damage done may be irreparable; however, the alcoholic will never know unless they give themselves the best possible chance of recovery – through professional help and though abstinence.