Although alcohol is often used as a “social lubricant” meant to ease jitters or liven up a party, the possibility to abuse alcohol is all too easy.  Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the messages traveling between your brain and body. If you drink too much too quickly, you could even die from alcohol poisoning. If you drink enough alcohol over time, it can damage almost every part of your body. 

If you are concerned about your alcohol consumption but have not yet committed to an alcohol-free life, you may want to look at some of the damages alcohol can do to your body. The long term effects of alcohol is associated with numerous effects such as:

1. Liver cirrhosis 

2. Blood clotting

3. Alcohol-related dementia 

4. Malnutrition

5. Pancreatitis

6. Cancer

7. Cardiomyopathy

1. Alcohol Can Cause Liver Cirrhosis

Alcohol is broken down by the liver, and it is believed alcohol damages the liver cells, which causes long-term effects such as liver cirrhosis. Cirrhosis occurs when there is scarring and fibrosis (enlargement of tissue) of the liver. The scarring and fibrosis usually occur as a result of chronic alcohol abuse and are characterized by patches of dead tissue that occur in the liver. Cirrhosis often does not have signs or symptoms until liver failure occurs. 

If 40 grams of alcohol are consumed daily for 10 years, about half of the people will develop alcoholism-related cirrhosis without experiencing any signs or symptoms in the early stages. The other half will develop alcoholism-related cirrhosis in the later stages when symptoms have already appeared. Cirrhosis can occur after just a few years of heavy drinking and most often develops in people between ages 40 and 60.

2. Alcohol can lead to Blood Clotting

A blood clot forms when there is a slight disruption in the blood flow. Once a blood clot forms, it usually clings to the organs or other soft tissues for a long period of time. A blood clot in the blood vessels has serious implications. A clot can lead to serious conditions like heart attack, stroke, and liver cirrhosis. In addition, a minor injury can result in scar tissue in the blood vessels. If the blood vessels become constricted in the presence of alcohol, it can lead to a blood clot.

3. Alcohol-Related Dementia

Alcohol-dependent individuals have a high chance of developing a condition known as “alcohol-related dementia”, which is a disorder that affects the brain. It is also known as “alcohol-related brain damage,” and sufferers of alcohol-related dementia are shown to have smaller frontal lobes when compared to non-alcoholic individuals.  

Symptoms of alcohol-related dementia include difficulties staying on task, poor coordination, uncontrolled emotional outbursts, and memory loss. Unlike other forms of dementia, alcohol-related dementia does not necessarily get worse with time, and, if caught at the early stages, may be reduced or even eliminated through alcohol abstention. 

4. Malnutrition

Malnutrition is the result of deficiencies in vitamins and minerals in your body. Malnutrition can lead to other severe health issues, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Studies have shown that chronic alcohol abuse intake can cause malnutrition. This could be because the long-term use of alcohol decreases appetite and nutrient absorption in the body. Alcohol also causes inflammation in the gut, which disrupts the normal digestive process. This leads to deficiencies in vitamins like vitamin B6, vitamin a, thiamine, and folate, all necessary for the body to function properly.

5. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis can be life-threatening and often leads to more health complications. Symptoms include pain, vomiting, and fever. The pancreas produces insulin that allows sugar into the body for processing. Pancreatitis can be caused by consuming too much alcohol. This is how it happens:

Sugar is not stored properly in the body, so when alcohol is consumed, the pancreas must create more insulin to be able to process the excess alcohol. The alcohol must first be eliminated from the body by vomiting, diarrhea, or diuresis. Insulin may then become dysfunctional or excess and may increase blood sugar. The body may not be able to properly absorb nutrients, as the pancreas cannot produce sufficient amounts of insulin leading to pancreatitis.

6. Cancer

The idea that drinking alcohol could cause cancer (such as breast cancer) has been around since the 1800s.

Because the toxins that are found in excess in the body are believed to cause cancer; it is probably safe to assume that high levels of alcohol consumption (particularly if alcohol consumption is coupled with the use of tobacco) will increase your risk of cancer. In addition, the long-term effects that are experienced by chronic excess alcohol consumption are increased risks for various types of cancers, which increase with dose and duration of exposure. Some long-term effects of increased cancer risks are shown to include liver, colorectal, and female breast cancers. 

7. Cardiomyopathy

An enlarged heart increases the risk of cardiac arrest, due to pumping less blood. Alcohol can cause high blood pressure or heart failure and interfere with the regulation of the heart’s rhythm, which can contribute to the risk of an irregular heartbeat and possible cardiac arrest.

Alcohol ingestion can lead to long-term problems in terms of your cardiovascular system due to the fact that, when you drink, your body produces more enzymes that break down alcohol; these are called ADH. When you break down alcohol into acetaldehyde and then acetic acid, long-term damage to the heart muscle cells can ensue, which can lead to long-term heart problems.

Cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension, and stroke can be caused by alcohol consumption. These long-term health problems are very serious and should be taken care of if they occur.

 Different Ways of How to Avoid Long Term Effects of Alcoholism

a. Abstain from Alcohol Consumption

This seems like an obvious suggestion, but it holds true for long-term alcohol abusers. Quitting drinking will prevent further long-term damage from being done to the body. In addition, quitting drinking entirely is a very healthy way for chronic alcohol abusers to live a better lifestyle, as it takes away all of the long-term health problems associated with alcoholism. 

Here are ways you can abstain from alcohol:

*Avoid your drinking friends

*Knowing the bad effects of alcohol

*Remove all the alcohol in your house

*Engaging in new hobbies like joining the gym

*Stay away from temptations e.g. avoid parties and clubbing

b. Seek Professional Help

By embracing long-term treatment, alcoholics can begin to turn their lives around and cooperate with long-term treatment for alcoholism before long-term damage is done. Many long-term alcoholic abusers can benefit from seeking professional help.

Professional help can be in the form of:

*Attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings

*Having a support group at home for those trying to stop drinking

c. Practice a Healthy Lifestyle 

Alcoholics should make an effort to exercise at least four times a week. By exercising, they can strengthen their vital organs and reduce long-term damage to their bodies. In addition, exercising releases chemicals in the brain that will improve moods and alleviate anxiety, therefore helping them to relax without turning to alcohol. Some of these exercises include: 

*running

*swimming

*walking

*boxing

*weightlifting 

*General aerobics

*Sports such as soccer or basketball

They should also practice healthy eating habits by eating a nutrient-rich diet, which incorporates fruits, vegetables, and drinking a lot of water.

d. Checking into Rehab Centers

Some of the long-term plans may include checking themselves into the alcohol rehab center. An alcohol rehab center is a place where alcoholics go to receive treatment in an environment with medical staff and other alcohol abusers. 

How do alcohol rehab centers help alcoholics? Below are four ways:

These kinds of facilities are good because they have medical professionals who offer alcohol detox, (this is where they make sure that all of the alcohol inside your body is removed). Alcohol detox first begins with supervised alcohol weaning and a gradual decrease in alcohol amount over the first 3 to 5 days of alcohol rehab treatment. This is commonly referred to as alcohol weaning, or simply “tapering off” alcohol consumption.  The goal of alcohol detox is not complete abstinence from alcohol, but a reduction in alcohol consumption and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

They work with alcoholics on their habits and discover why they drink alcohol in excess.

Alcohol rehab centers typically offer alcohol abusers hot yoga sessions, meditation workshops, healthy food, and other activities to promote relaxation of the body and mind.

Alcohol rehab centers are designed for alcoholics to build up their strength so they can return back to society as stronger alcoholics who are ready to handle life without alcohol. 

The long-term effects of chronic alcoholism can be devastating. Alcoholism is a disease that has no cure, but if you are an alcoholic and want to avoid the debilitating side effects it may have on your life, the ways discussed above will help you manage or even stop drinking entirely.