What Is Alcohol Abuse Disorder?
Alcohol Use/Abuse Disorder or AUD is a condition characterized by excessive intake of alcohol and a compulsive need that causes emotional distress when the addict is not using it.
According to scientists, AUD can cause lasting changes in the brain. It has become a concern since there are reportedly 16 million Americans with AUD. The condition needs to be treated to avoid the long-term effects of alcohol abuse.
AUD, therefore, needs to be diagnosed early to prevent complications that will be time-consuming and difficult to treat. The condition is diagnosed through a list of symptoms. You may either have mild, moderate, or severe AUD. Here are some of the alcohol effects associated with the condition:
Relapses: You tried to quit drinking more than once but ended up drinking again. Or you spend a lot of time drinking and end up drinking more than you intended or spent time getting over your hangover.
Compulsive Drinking: On many occasions, you have a strong urge to drink. Your drinking interferes with your day to day responsibilities. You’ve also been drinking too much and this has on more than one occasion led you into doing activities – such as swimming, driving, walking in dangerous areas, – that have placed you in danger.
Drinking Despite Health Problems: You may have AUD if you find yourself drinking even after you experienced health problems. This means you may choose to drink even after you experience headaches, dizziness or blackouts.
- Withdrawal Symptoms: You may have AUD if you experience withdrawal symptoms every time you don’t drink. Some of the symptoms you experience after alcohol wears off from your body include irritability, anxiety, depression, restlessness, nausea, or insomnia.
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Binge Drinking and Its Side Effects
Binge drinking can be said to be the habit where one takes a considerable amount of alcohol in a short time, then spends a long duration of time without taking a drink again. The condition is treatable and preventable but it causes many of the long-term effects of alcohol.
How long does alcohol take to kick in? The answer to this question can help us understand beige drinking and the side effects it causes on the body. There are many factors that can determine how long it takes, but it is usually anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour for the drink to get into your system.
Men and women, generally speaking, have different rates of metabolizing alcohol. The recommended intake for men is two glasses a day, and for women, the recommended intake is one glass a day.
However, it is important to note that you cannot take seven glasses of alcohol at the end of the week to compensate for the days you skipped. For women, binge drinking is considered to be the consumption of four drinks on one occasion, and for men, the consumption of five drinks on the same occasion.
Binge drinking can cause some of the very serious effects of alcohol on the body, some of the effects are:
Declining Mental Function: The most common short-term effects of alcohol and other drugs include the loss of good judgment which impairs our decisions and makes driving or operating machinery risky. Binge drinking is dangerous for your brain function in that it can cause permanent damage. It can increase the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s in old age.
Liver Disease: One of the organs affected by alcohol, especially through binge drinking is the liver. Liver cirrhosis is one of the most serious negative effects of alcohol. The organ is replaced by scar tissue, instead of new cells and this compromises the ability of the organ to perform its biological functions. Unfortunately, the damage is often not reversible.
Depression: Depression and binge drinking are often treated as co-occurring disorders because they are interdependent for those who have both conditions. Binge drinking impairs one’s ability to perform effectively at work and this can overtime cause depression. Depression can, in turn, cause enough distress to compel one to drown their sorrows by drinking excessively. At a rehabilitation facility, dual diagnosis is necessary to ensure that both conditions are treated so that the individual can handle life challenges after recovery.
- Unintended Injuries: Because binge drinkers take a lot of alcohol in a very short period of time and after they haven’t taken alcohol in a long time, alcohol tends to kick in quickly. Judgment is quickly impaired and the individual does not have control over their actions.
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Alcohol Effects On The Body
Excessive and compulsive drinking are discouraged by health and medical professionals for it causes serious short term and long term effects on the body and mind. This can compromise your ability to perform duties effectively at work, take care of family, or maintain a healthy social life with friends, loved ones, or colleagues at work.
Excessive drinking can greatly increase your chances of getting type 2 diabetes. Drinking too much alcohol impairs the body’s ability to regulate insulin. It is also one of the greatest factors that encourage the development of chronic pancreatic.
Some research suggests that even taking moderate amounts of alcohol can cause conditions such as heart palpitations. This condition is characterized by an irregular heartbeat which may be accompanied by dizziness, lethargy, shortness of breath, amongst other symptoms.
Reduced Sexual Performance:
Alcohol is mistakenly seen as an aphrodisiac that lifts inhibitions. But it can have a significant effect on the sex life of both sexes. Men are likely to have problems maintaining an erection, while women may experience vaginal dryness and a reduced libido.
Long term drinking can affect how your brain looks and works. The cells start to change and even get smaller. An excess of alcohol can actually shrink your brain which in turn affects the ability to think, learn, and remember things.
Central Nervous System:
Other organs affected by alcohol include the heart, the gut, and the central nervous system. Alcohol has a small molecule that can cross different membranes in the body. It interferes with the central nervous system depressing its function. It damages and contracts the size of brain cells. People who are binge drinkers or with a condition such as Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) are prone to loss of memory as well as cognitive problems that impair their ability to perform effectively.
Stroke is a risk factor for those who drink heavily and particularly binge drinkers. It is not clear to scientists why binge drinking makes one more prone to stroke. However, the changes in blood pressure caused by excessive consumption of alcohol are thought to be responsible for the increased risk.
Depressed Immune System:
Alcohol changes the functionality of your immune system by altering cells. The cells and compounds that keep diseases away cannot effectively wade off diseases such as tuberculosis, and pneumonia.
Alcohol molecules can also cause trigger the production of reactive molecules known as Reactive Oxygen Species. These molecules can damage the DNA of various organs in the body and therefore facilitates the development of cancer. The most common type of cancers that can be triggered by excessive alcohol intake include liver, mouth, throat, esophagus, and breast cancer.
Alcohol causes a wide range of mental and physical issues and can affect your quality of life in both the short and long term. This can happen even if you take considerable amounts of alcohol occasionally. Consider seeking professional help if you suspect that you have an alcohol abuse problem.