Alcohol is a chemical substance used as an ingredient in wines, vodka, beer and other alcoholic beverages. Alcohol produces a euphoric effect or feeling that makes people’s addiction to it quite easy.
There are many negative effects that too much alcohol or alcohol use disorder can cause. However, if it’s taken at a safe dosage, its consequences may not be so fatal.
This article will explain what alcohol is, its components and how its excessive intake can be life-threatening. Read on to discover more interesting information about alcohol and how you can manage its addiction problems.
What is Alcohol?
Alcohol is one of the oldest and major recreational substances you can find around. It is the main ingredient in beers, alcoholic wines and spirits. It’s formed when yeast makes the sugars in various foods undergo fermentation without oxygen. As a result, alcohol causes drunkenness which is its major characteristic or feature.
Alcohol, also known chemically as ethanol, is a depressant drug that reduces the nervous system’s activity (CNS) and the signals flowing from the brain to the body. As a result, it affects a person’s mind by reducing their ability to think rationally after consumption.
However, ethanol isn’t the only type or form of alcohol. But it’s the only type used for alcoholic beverages. Other types of alcohol include methanol and isopropyl alcohol which are more toxic or potent.
Isopropyl or Isopropanol is mildly toxic than ethanol and is not likely to cause serious damages or harm. Methanol, on the other hand, is immensely toxic than ethanol. Even quantities as small as 10-15 millilitres (2-3 tsp) can be deadly.
Alcohol has been in existence for over 9,000 years. It works in the brain by mainly increasing the neurotransmitter effects known as y-aminobutyric acid or GABA, the main neurotransmitter in the human brain.
Alcohol also affects other neuro transmitting systems like glutamate, glycine, serotonin and acetylcholine. In addition, the increased levels of dopamine in the brain results in the euphoric feeling that alcohol provides.
What is in Alcohol?
Alcohols are organic molecules gotten from carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms. When two carbons are present, the alcohol is called ethyl alcohol or ethanol as its popularly known. In most alcoholic drinks/ beverages, ethanol and water are the main ingredients. Although, in some alcoholic drinks, sugar can be more or higher than the ethanol content.
Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol is known to affect men and women differently. After alcohol consumption, it goes into the blood and travels down to the brain before you start feeling high. Although when you drink or take alcohol at a considerable level, it helps you relax or unwind.
At higher consumption or concentrations, the effects become more severe. It begins to meddle with your thinking process or pattern. You may start finding it difficult to reason coherently or clearly.
The effects of alcohol vary between individuals but the common reactions or effects you can find include:
When alcohol is consumed excessively, it affects your coordination and poise no matter where you are. In addition, it can cause you to make a mess of yourself by staggering and making incoherent and illogical statements in public.
While you may seem to be having fun, it affects people’s perception of you. So, for example, if you’re trying to go for a public office in the government or you’re already in one, records of when you were misbehaving after drinking can mean a lot then.
It can give your opponent or opponents an edge over you and cost you that office or position. So it’s not a bad idea to drink, but you can try to have a safe limit. You can gauge how much you drink by stopping whenever you start to feel the intoxication setting in little by little. However, it’s easier said than done.
Alcohol consumption and addiction can lead to financial problems because of the constant need to settle your cravings. Many people have run into this problem because alcohol addiction affects your ability to organise and plan your finances in most cases.
Alcohol addiction can cause you to spend your last dime at a pub or a liquor store. It affects your financial plans and can cause you to borrow now and then to keep up or feed your addiction.
Alcohol addiction can lead to several health issues in your body. Most of these problems are life-threatening and can cause a permanent change to your life. But you don’t need to wait until the situation is out of hand. Instead, you can contact alcohol addiction services to help you out. See some of the health problems below.
Excess exposure to alcohol can cause problems in the brain. For example, it can lead to the shrinking of the frontal lobes of your brain. Besides that, alcohol interferes with how your brain makes memories or cognitive ability, and you may start having hallucinations during sudden withdrawal.
For example, you can wake up the next day without remembering anything that happened while drinking. But, on the other hand, you may miss important information or details due to the effect of alcohol on your brain.
Alcohol is a known carcinogen, and it’s is the fifth leading cause of cancer. In addition, long term drinkers are at the risk of developing mouth, oesophagus or throat (larynx and pharynx) cancer. So the risk of cancer is another major reason to quit taking alcohol totally or manage its consumption.
Breast cancer is also quite common in women that drink alcohol at an imprudent amount. Heavy drinking may also increase the likeliness of people contracting stomach cancer.
Sexual Dysfunction and Infertility
Men who take alcohol excessively are more at risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction and infertility. The problem of sexual dysfunction and infertility is a major problem because the inability to reproduce is a lifelong issue and can lead to a troubled life. At this stage, it’s important to contact alcohol addiction services to help you curb the damage.
Heart and Liver Damage
The liver and heart are two important organs in the human body, and chronic alcohol drinking can affect them adversely.
The liver is an organ that’s responsible for taking out toxic or harmful substances in your body. Unfortunately, excessive alcohol can prevent it from carrying out its basic function, leading to life-threatening situations.
On the other hand, heavy drinking is one of the major causes of cardiovascular disease. When drinking, alcohol can cause a temporary increase in your blood pressure and heart rate. However, in the long run, alcohol use disorder can lead to irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, weakened heart muscle and increased heart rate.
Drinking too much wanes your body’s ability to ward off viruses and bacteria. It causes you to be more vulnerable to pneumonia and tuberculosis, which are both life-threatening ailments.
Malnutrition and Fatigue
Alcohol intercepts your body’s ability to properly break down or absorb the nutrients (minerals and vitamins) from the foods you consume. As a result, it leads to malnutrition because your body isn’t getting enough nutrients to keep it going.
Also, chronic alcohol drinkers always experience fatigue or tiredness. It’s a possible sign of anaemia which is a potential complication of alcoholism.
Osteoporosis is also known as thinning bones. It’s a bone disease that occurs when your body loses too much bone, makes too little bone or both. Resultantly, your bones start to become weak and may break from a fall or, in serious cases, from sneezing or just minor bumps.
Alcohol addiction increases the chances of you experiencing this bone problem. Although rare, it’s another reason you’re to combat alcoholism earnestly.
Alcohol can cause issues for babies during pregnancy, even before the mother knows she’s pregnant. Alcohol consumption during pregnancy can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, congenital disabilities and even premature birth. Pregnant women with an alcohol addiction problem can start seeking solutions by getting in touch with alcohol addiction services.
Diabetes and Diarrhea
Chronic alcohol drinking may prevent your body from breaking down sugar. It does this by causing terrible inflammation of the pancreas, which is known as pancreatitis. Also, alcohol is high in calories, and it can give way to weight gain. Excessive alcohol also decreases the production of insulin, thereby making it more tedious to control blood sugar.
Alcohol disorder also increases your chances of diarrhoea by causing damage to your intestines. These diseases can lead to bouts of stomach pain or diarrhoea.
Career and Relationship
Alcohol addiction is bad because you’re putting many things on the line, including your career and relationship. You may start having problems at your work because alcohol addiction affects your productivity and output at work. You may lose your job if you show up to work drunk, which is possible due to alcohol addiction. It’ll also be difficult to maintain employment.
Chronic drinking also affects your relationship with family and friends. Alcoholism makes you act irresponsibly and embarrass the people around you. It can cause people to start avoiding you. When you start noticing such problems, it’s advisable to contact alcohol addiction services.
It’s difficult to define alcohol dependence because it varies among individuals. You are dependent when you can no longer go about your normal life without drinking alcohol. It starts to affect your daily routine and behaviour generally.
Alcohol addiction and overdose can lead to death, yes, death! A recent study reports that each year, there’s an estimate of 15,000 deaths directly attributable to alcohol use. The study also directly links an estimate of 90,000 hospital admissions to misuse of alcohol.
The Canadian government has already put legislation and regulation to govern tobacco and alcohol legislation. But the federal government has been asleep at the wheels on creating and implementing policies on alcohol use. The lack of regulation on alcohol gives way to the steady increase of its addiction in the country.
Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
The accessibility to alcohol makes it easy for addiction to occur. It’s almost available in every function, social situation, celebration and enjoyment. As a result, drinking has become a normal way of life for a lot of people.
The availability of alcohol is something the government ought to regulate. Excess availability of alcohol makes it difficult to differentiate between someone who has addiction problems and a person who just likes to unwind occasionally. However, certain symptoms make it possible to spot a person that has addiction problems. They include:
- Lack of hangover or high tolerance for alcohol
- Change in the circle of friends
- Unstable relationship with friends and family
- Increased depression
- Inability to control alcoholic cravings irrespective of the damages it causes
- Always feeling tired etc.
There’s no need to worry if you think you may have an alcohol addiction problem. However, don’t try to just stop immediately or abruptly on your own. Sudden withdrawal from alcohol can be dangerous and life-endangering.
The first step you’re to take is to look for any good alcohol addiction services online or around you. Then you can organise a treatment plan that’ll be suitable for you. Joining support groups and going for counselling can help you get better faster.
Why is Alcohol Addictive?
The use issue of alcohol use disorder stems from various factors. When you drink heavily for a long time, your brain starts to become dependent on alcohol. The dependency makes it hard for chronic alcohol drinkers to quit. When you stop taking alcohol abruptly, it may result in dangerous withdrawal symptoms. See the factors that lead can lead to alcohol addiction below.
- Environmental factors (externally induced factors, e.g. peer pressure)
- Biological factor (hereditary)
- Psychological factor (internal factor, e.g. mental state)
- Social factor
A recent study shows that about 5.9 million people qualify as heavy drinkers, and the number is rising. The study reveals that it’s becoming worse, and the government needs to do something about it.
Alcohol addiction is a major problem all over the world, especially in Canada. Its addictiveness can cause you problems that can be life-threatening in the long run. The negative effects of alcoholism show you that you need to seek treatment immediately.
You can use our alcohol addiction treatment services at Inspire Change Wellness Centre. We have top qualified professionals that are ready to work with you at affordable rates. Our services are also top-notch! Get in touch with us today!