Physical Damage From Long-Term Drinking

You may already know about the short-term effects of drinking, but long-term alcohol abuse can cause permanent damage to the mind and body. Alcohol abuse can very literally harm a person from head to toe with everything from brain lesions to leg swelling. If you worry about the long-term damage that alcoholism can cause for yourself or for someone you love, remember that you don’t have to face this problem alone. Keep reading to find out how alcoholism can harm the body and how Rehab Info can help you quit before the alcohol causes irreparable damage.

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Heart Health

The first point here is that alcohol consumption can and does impair heart health, contributing to several different heart conditions. Alcohol abuse causes congestive heart failure, a disorder that prevents the heart from pumping enough blood for the body’s needs. Congestive heart failure can cause many problems including difficulty breathing, uncomfortable leg swelling, and fatigue.


Related: Your United Healthcare Insurance May Cover Drug Rehab Costs


Alcoholism also leads to cardiomyopathy, a disease that wears down the heart muscle and can lead to congestive heart failure. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is also common in people with alcohol use disorders. This condition can cause a heart attack or stroke.

Liver Health

When a person drinks alcohol, most of that alcohol gets processed in the liver. Chronic alcohol abuse puts a lot of stress on the liver, asking it to perform beyond its normal capacity. Consequently, alcoholism can cause several different types of liver disease. These diseases include, but are not limited to the following:


  • Fatty liver
  • Cirrhosis
  • Hepatitis
  • Liver fibrosis
  • Liver cancer

These disorders can lead to swelling and hardening of the liver. The liver’s job is to help get rid of toxins in the body. When the liver can’t do its job, toxins build up in the body, causing other health problems.

Liver disease may impact more than 10% of the world’s population.

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Digestive Health

If you’ve ever had too much alcohol to drink, you may have noticed some short-term digestive issues. Binging on alcohol can cause nausea, acid reflux, and other digestive problems that will eventually go away. However, long-term alcohol use can cause more permanent digestive problems. For example, alcohol can damage the lining of the stomach and intestines, preventing proper food absorption and leading to malnutrition. People who abuse alcohol also have a higher risk of developing cancer of the digestive tract.


Furthermore, alcohol abuse interferes with the pancreas, an organ that produces the enzymes that the stomach uses to digest food. Alcohol prevents the pancreas from doing its job properly, which leads to an enzyme buildup that can cause long-term health problems and extreme physical pain. The pancreas also produces a hormone called insulin, which regulates blood sugar. Alcohol abuse can damage this process and cause complications similar to those that a diabetic person would experience.

If you’re struggling with alcoholism, call 800-492-QUIT today for help.

Mental Health

Make no mistake here. Alcoholism is itself a mental health disorder. It can coexist with and contribute to other mental health problems too. Alcohol abuse has strong correlations with depression. However research is unclear about whether alcohol abuse causes depression or if depression leads to alcohol abuse. In any case, alcohol does not work as an antidote to depression because it is a depressant drug. In the long run, alcohol use can only make depression worse, which may be why those with alcoholism carry a high risk of suicide.


Furthermore, chronic alcohol use can cause physical lesions on the brain, causing long-term cognitive and behavioral issues. Researchers have linked alcoholism to dementia and other degenerative brain disorders. The physical brain damage that alcohol causes can result in poor judgement, the inability to form new memories, the inability to think clearly, and other issues as well.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Drinking alcohol during a pregnancy can cause a range of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in the developing fetus, the most severe of which is called Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). These disorders cause mental and physical changes in the child that last throughout the child’s lifetime. These include:

  • Smaller head size
  • Lowered amount of brain cells
  • Learning disabilities
  • Behavioral and social problems
  • Impaired physical coordination

If You Need Help

The above article explains just a few of the many complications that come from alcohol abuse. If you have an alcohol use disorder, you may have already noticed changes in your physical and mental health. The sooner you get help for alcohol abuse, the sooner your body can begin to heal. If you’re not sure where to start while looking for the right treatment, Rehab Info is here to help. Call us today at 1-800-492-QUIT. We can help!

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If you need help to get started, contact Rehab Info at 800-492-QUIT today.
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