At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, we speak to many people who are considering alcohol rehab and recovery in Boise because they are struggling with addiction and the toll it takes on their lives. What many people battling addiction may not realize is the physical toll the disease can take.
Alcohol abuse leads to frequent, excessive drinking. This can cause problems at school or work, lead to reckless behavior, and even cause someone to spend more money than they can afford, in order to fuel the addiction. This not only puts a strain on life mentally and financially, but also physically – increasing the risk of serious health conditions. Many of these conditions can affect the alcohol abuser long after they stop drinking.
Here’s what you need to know about the how drinking alcohol chronically impacts your health and the toll it can take on your body.
What Alcoholism Does to The Body
When alcohol is ingested, it has both short and long-term effects on the body. Almost immediately, the walls of the blood vessels relax and widen, which can increase the heart rate and decrease blood pressure.
Drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time causes the lining of the stomach to become irritated and inflamed. This can damage the stomach lining and lead to vomiting. Chronic vomiting can lead stomach acids to damage the esophagus. In the short term, this damage can make it difficult to breathe. In the long term, it increases the risk of esophageal cancer significantly.
Alcohol also affects how the immune system works and, over time, can have a long-term impact on health and overall wellness.
Alcohol Use and Illness
When an individual consumes alcohol chronically, it can cause damage to the body each time. The more challenges an individual has regarding alcohol abuse, the more likely they are to develop health complications. Heavy consumption of alcohol increases the risk of developing chronic disease, including the following.
Most people know that heavy drinking impacts the liver severely. The liver is responsible for metabolizing any alcohol that goes into the body. Consequently, drinking heavily can increase the risk of developing liver disease.
If you or someone you love has struggled with alcohol addiction for some time, symptoms related to liver disease can develop as early as age 40, or possibly earlier.
These symptoms include:
- Blood vessels seen through the skin
- Loss of energy
- Pain in the belly
- Weight loss
- Poor appetite
Liver disease actually occurs in several stages. The first is called alcoholic fatty liver and you may not notice symptoms in this stage. The second stage is inflammation and swelling of the liver, which can result in yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes as well as nausea, vomiting, fever, weakness, and tenderness in the belly. The third stage is called cirrhosis of the liver, which is caused by scarring of the liver. At this point, liver failure will eventually occur and the damage cannot be repaired.
Another condition that can strike those that drink heavily is heart disease, which also happens to be the number one killer of all Americans, according to the American Heart Association.
When you drink heavily over a long period of time, your blood vessels tend to shrink, which makes your heart have to work harder to pump blood. The heart is also weakened by chronic alcohol use because it damages the actual cells in the heart, interfering with the way the organ functions. Eventually, the heart becomes overworked and tired, which causes it to swell. This results in what is called alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
Most symptoms won’t be noticeable until the disease has already advanced and the heart is starting to fail. The symptoms that are the most common with this condition include:
- Swollen ankles and feet
- Irregular heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
Cancer kills more than 600,000 Americans each year. A variety of factors increase the risk of developing cancer, including alcohol abuse. The chronic use and abuse of alcohol can lead to a higher incidence of cancer because the alcohol damages the cells in your body and disrupts the way your body naturally works to resist cancer on its own. Alcohol use can also increase levels of estrogen in the body, which can lead to a higher risk of breast cancer.
The most common types of cancer related to alcohol abuse are:
- Liver cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Neck and head cancer
- Breast cancer
- Esophageal cancer
As previously mentioned, drinking large amounts of alcohol regularly inflames the stomach lining, but it also can inflame the pancreas, which is the small organ that helps to regulate your blood sugar through the release of insulin.
Not only can your pancreas become inflamed, a condition called pancreatitis, but it can be damaged to the point where it doesn’t make insulin as it needs to, which leads to the development of diabetes. The good news is that giving up alcohol can help to reduce the likelihood of developing both inflammation of the pancreas and diabetes.
Gout is a form of arthritis that is incredibly painful, as it causes hot, stiff, red, and swollen joints in the toes and feet. It’s triggered by high levels of uric acid in the blood, a substance that is normally filtered from the blood by the kidneys. When you drink alcohol, the kidneys work hard to filter alcohol instead of uric acid, which causes this substance to build in the bloodstream and gout to develop.
Gout can come on suddenly and the symptoms often include:
- Reduced range of motion in the joints
- Intense pain in the joints
- Redness and inflammation in the joints
- Discomfort in the joints that can last days or even weeks
You Can Overcome Addiction to Alcohol
When you’re mired down by the abuse of alcohol, it can be difficult to see a way out. Luckily, there is help. Alcohol rehab centers in Boise – including Moonlight Mountain Recovery – have programs that can help you to overcome your addiction to alcohol and improve your overall health in the process.
If you’re struggling with addiction, help is only a phone call away. Call the alcohol recovery professionals at Moonlight Mountain Recovery today.