Side Effects of Alcohol Abuse You Should Really Know
The side effects of alcohol abuse exert a considerable toll on the overall health of the body. Over time, alcohol abuse wears down essential brain and body processes making drinkers that much more vulnerable to alcohol’s damaging effects.
As with any addictive substance, alcohol has a cumulative effect on both a person’s physical and psychological well-being. With continued drinking, the physical side effects of alcohol abuse pave the way for the psychological effects to take shape. Ultimately, the side effects of alcohol abuse evolve over time, becoming increasingly more severe as brain and body functions continue to deteriorate.
Brain Tolerance Level Increases
Alcohol acts as a psychoactive substance in that it alters chemical processes in the brain. These interactions underlie the vicious cycle that alcohol abuse becomes.
With each drink, alcohol stimulates the release of neurotransmitter chemicals from certain key brain cell sites. Under normal conditions, neurotransmitter production proceeds on an as-needed basis. When alcohol enters the picture, cell sites have to work considerably harder than normal to produce these large amounts of chemicals.
Over time, these interactions cause damage to cell site structures making them less responsive to alcohol’s effects. When this happens, brain tolerance levels for alcohol increase. This side effect of alcohol abuse never goes away, so a person’s tolerance levels will continue to increase for as long as he or she keeps drinking.
Physical Side Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol’s adverse effects on brain function inevitably impair central nervous system functions, so any bodily system regulated by the central nervous system stands to reap the effects of alcohol abuse. Central nervous system functions most affected include:
- Heart function
- Respiratory functions
- Body temperature regulation
- Pain management
- Motor coordination
In the case of chronic drinking, high blood-alcohol levels cause considerable damage to cells and tissues throughout the body. These conditions combined with alcohol’s effects on central nervous system functions create a domino effect that wears away at a person’s overall health status.
Withdrawal Side Effects of Alcohol Abuse
The effects of alcohol on neurotransmitter production inevitably produce chemical imbalances throughout the brain with ongoing alcohol use. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, chemical imbalances impair overall brain function making it difficult to regulate the body’s various systems.
Before long, certain processes throughout the body start to breakdown in response to the brain’s diminished capacity. When this happens, withdrawal effects develop.
Withdrawal effects typically take the form of:
- Decrease in appetite
- Excess sweating
With continued drinking, withdrawal effects become increasingly worse and occur more and more often.
Behavioral-Based Side Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol’s effects on brain chemical balance can wreak havoc on a person’s psychological and emotional well-being. In effect, alcohol impairs a person’s cognitive functions to the point where fundamental changes in his or her personality start to take shape.
Behavioral-based side effects of alcohol abuse may take the form of:
- Poor judgment and decision-making
- Unusual risk-taking behaviors
- Disregard for the feelings of others
- Disregard for family and/or work responsibilities
More oftentimes than not, it’s the change in a person’s behavior that calls attention to the problem.