Alcohol addiction remains one of the most challenging issues for modern society. It is particularly prevalent in Western, developed regions such as Europe and the USA where alcohol is readily available and cheap to buy. One of the major problems with alcohol addiction is that abuse leads to numerous health problems and not only puts enormous pressure on health care providers but also has a massive impact on families, work colleagues, friends and society as a whole.
While most people are aware that alcohol abuse can cause health problems such as cirrhosis of the liver and is a causal factor in many car accidents, there are at least 60 different complaints that can manifest if you drink too much.
Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol regularly leads to a rise in blood pressure and causes damage to your arteries and heart. According to Drinkaware, nearly 200,000 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with cardiovascular disease. Drinking too much also leads to a weakening of the heart muscles that make it more difficult to pump blood around the body. Practices such as binge drinking cause the heart to beat irregularly than can then lead to something like coronary failure in extreme circumstances.
Research suggest that the more alcohol a person consumes, the more likely they are to develop cancer in areas such as the throat and neck, oesophagus and the liver. There is also evidence that women who drink regularly are more likely to develop breast cancer. You can also find links between drinking and colon and rectal cancers.
Drinking a lot of alcohol can reduce the amount of oxygen that our red blood cells are able to carry. This is vital for the normal functioning of the body. Those will an alcohol addiction may therefore suffer from symptoms such as fatigue, light headedness and shortness of breath.
Alcohol addiction has some links to dementia in later life. Heavy drinking can lead to the shrinking of vital parts of the brain and memory loss is a typical symptom of someone who has a problem with alcohol. It can also damage a person’s ability to make decisions and perform manual tasks. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, alcohol-related brain damage is a big public health concern particularly following the increase in alcohol consumption amongst middle aged people over the last decade or so.
Cirrhosis of the Liver
One of the common diseases that occurs from excessive, long term drinking is cirrhosis of the liver. Women in particular are more susceptible to getting this disease where the liver becomes so scarred that it ceases to function properly.
When uric acid crystals form in your joints you develop a condition called gout. This can particularly effect areas such as the big toe and is very painful. The main cause of gout is hereditary, but drinking too much alcohol can certainly make the condition worse.
Mental health Issues
Alcohol addiction and health problems such as mental illness are often difficult to separate. A person may be depressed, stressed out or anxious and use drink to take the edge off their problems. This generally doesn’t lead to a cure for any mental health problem unless they are very mild and will invariably make the situation worse as drinking becomes heavier. On the other hand, alcohol abuse may cause depression that never previously existed or cause problems such as severe memory loss and, in some cases, psychotic episodes.
Damage to the Nerves
Alcoholic neuropathy is a particular kind of nerve damage that is caused by excessive drink. The first sign is a painful sensation of pins and needles but it can also cause weakness in various muscles leading to conditions such as incontinence.