People who abuse alcohol often do so to escape the troubles of their lives. Whether they’re facing financial, emotional, or physical troubles alcohol often numbs them to their worries which is ironic because alcohol abuse is often the root cause of many of their problems.
The more alcohol is abused the worst problems often become. Soon relationships are broken, finances are ruined, careers are flushed down the drain, and (usually worst of all), life-threatening health conditions begin to arise. Alcohol abuse has been the root cause of well over 60 diseases that range from minor to life-threatening.
With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the most common medical conditions that come about from alcohol abuse.
One of the worst medical conditions you can experience from alcohol abuse is brain damage. We’re all familiar with the short-term effects of how alcohol affects the brain — slowed reaction time, slurred speech, memory problems, etc.
While these effects eventually go away, the long-term symptoms are often permanent. A combination of rehab, medication, and surgery are often the only solution for treating brain damage, but even these methods don’t offer a 100% guarantee of recovery.
Alcohol poisoning is one of the most well known and most dangerous alcohol-related medical conditions that can occur after a single instance of drinking and can be difficult to identify. Oftentimes alcohol poisoning can be confused for extreme drunkenness and not taken as the serious medical condition that it is.
As a result, you may be tempted to give the drunk individual over-the-counter medication before sending them off to bed to “sleep off” the nights drinking. While this may work if your friend is simply intoxicated, your actions may put them in significant danger if they have alcohol poisoning.
Binge drinking, drinking a vast amount of alcohol in a short span of time, is one of the main ways alcohol poisoning occurs. Alcohol poisoning can cause a range of serious side effects that include hypothermia, permanent brain damage, and seizures. All of these symptoms can lead to death if ignored, so it’s essential that you learn how to quickly identify someone who may potentially have alcohol poisoning.
Here are the most common symptoms to keep an eye out for:
- Coldness to the touch
- Bluish tinge to the skin
If anyone you encounter is experiencing these symptoms, you need to act decisively. Keep in mind, however, there are a few things you shouldn’t do for someone who has alcohol poisoning:
- Avoid lying them down as they may vomit and choke if they’re on their back.
- Avoid giving them a cold shower. If the individual is experiencing hypothermia a cold shower will only make the situation exponentially worse.
- Avoid giving them coffee to “perk” them up. This will only make things worse for their dehydrated body.
Unless you’re a trained medical professional your ability to help someone who has alcohol poisoning will be limited. Make it your top priority to stop others from performing the aforementioned actions and call for an ambulance as soon as you can.
Pumping the stomach is the most effective way to reverse the effects of alcohol poisoning, and this can only be done in a facility with the proper equipment. Thus, it should be your top priority to ensure the individual in question is seen by medical professionals as quickly as possible.
Hepatitis and other types of liver diseases
Alcoholic hepatitis develops is by excessive intake of alcohol. Essentially you’re flooding your liver with alcohol, damaging it to the point that it either stops working the way it should or ceases to work altogether. That’s when the true troubles begin.
Side effects of hepatitis include a swollen abdomen, increased susceptibility to bleeding, yellowing of the eyes, and falling into a coma. If you’ve been diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis, you must act quickly before the damage worsens and your liver shuts down completely.
If you decide to continue drinking even after your diagnosis it’s only a matter of time before you lose your liver. At that point, excessive bleeding may set in or even cirrhosis.
Be mindful that alcoholic hepatitis is just one of many alcohol-related illnesses that affect the liver. When alcohol is ingested, it passes through the stomach and makes its way to the small intestine. From there it’s processed through the liver which then works to filter out the toxins introduced to the body from the alcohol.
When the liver is overly inundated with alcohol, it can become damaged and may stop functioning. As a result your liver will no longer perform the crucial function of pumping toxins from the body and fatty acids will begin to accumulate over time. When this occurs you will likely develop alcoholic hepatitis or other alcohol-related liver diseases.
Sexually-Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
It isn’t possible for alcohol to directly cause STDs. However, unsafe drinking practices can very well increase your risk of contracting a sexual disease. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions causing us to often participate in activities we normally would avoid while sober, such as getting into fights or having unprotected sex with strangers.
Statistics show that both men and women are far more likely to engage in unsafe sexual practices when they are inebriated. Worse yet this also makes them far more likely to become sexual assault victims as alcohol lowers their ability to fight off an attacker. In both instances, the likelihood of contracting an STD is heightened considerably.
When drinking at a social event be mindful of the amount of alcohol you ingest to avoid engaging in acts you normally wouldn’t. This will also help you avoid becoming a victim of a sexual predator looking to prey on a drunk victim. Finally, always practice safe sex. Otherwise, you may contract an STD you may have to deal with for the rest of your life.
Severe Bodily Injury
Your chances of physical injury increase greatly during periods of drunkenness. The most common form of bodily injury comes from drunk driving which impacts both the offender and the innocent(s) in the opposite vehicle. Drunk driving has led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people, and can lead to stiff legal punishment for the offender.
Drunk driving is only one way a person can experience bodily injury while drinking. Alcohol is also notorious for pumping egos. Aggression is soon to follow which often leads to physical confrontations. Even if you end up on the winning side of a fight you may end up still getting hurt in the process.
Alcohol also increases the likelihood that you’ll end up hurting yourself. You may lose your balance and fall over, trip over your own feet, walk into a solid object (such as a wall), or even injure yourself while handling a dangerous object (such as a knife). Even a momentary lapse of drunkenness can be all that’s needed to injure yourself severely.
Combating alcohol abuse
Long-term alcohol abuse can ravage the body and can lead to life-threatening medical conditions. Learn what your limits are and understand the consequences of your drinking habit. No one ever thinks their drinking habit will spiral out of control, but every little sip you take brings you that much closer to alcohol addiction. Save your life (or someone else’s) by drinking responsibly.
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