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Alcohol is a drug and while long-term heavy use creates severe affects on the body, drinking alcohol in small amounts also carries health consequences. Continued use of alcohol can lead to physiological addiction in addition to other physical impairments. Alcohol is the most commonly abused psychoactive drug in the United States and the world. Beginning with low doses, alcohol immediately impairs coordination and sound judgment, contributing to automobile accidents and other fatal decisions.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Moderate drinking leads to confusion and dizziness, slurred speech, nausea and vomiting. The morning after large amounts of alcohol have been consumed leaves people with headaches, thirst and fatigue. Ulcers, malnutrition and sexual dysfunction can result from long-term alcohol use. Pregnant women who drink can cause fetal alcohol syndrome in their unborn children, causing mental and physical damage.
- Alcohol is a drug and while long-term heavy use creates severe affects on the body, drinking alcohol in small amounts also carries health consequences.
- Ulcers, malnutrition and sexual dysfunction can result from long-term alcohol use.
Hospital Procedures for Alcohol Poisoning
One of the leading health risks to the body from drinking alcohol is liver damage. Metabolism of nutrients in the liver is impaired when it must process excess amounts of alcohol. The immune system is compromised and replaced by fatty tissues in the liver. Diseases caused by alcohol consumption, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, include liver cancer, hepatitis C and cirrhosis 2. When the liver becomes impaired, other organs can be damaged as well. A brain disorder called hepatic encephalopathy (HE) impairs psychiatric, cognitive and motor functions. Severe liver dysfunction cannot be cured except through a liver transplant. Doctors often are hesitant to perform the procedure on alcoholics for fear that they will continue to drink and destroy the new liver.
- One of the leading health risks to the body from drinking alcohol is liver damage.
- Metabolism of nutrients in the liver is impaired when it must process excess amounts of alcohol.
Alcohol can poison the body and lead to death, reports the Mayo Clinic. Alcohol poisoning can occur by downing five drinks in rapid succession, also called a binge. When a person ingests too much alcohol in a short period of time, the body responds with rapid heartbeat and slowed breathing and can cause a coma. A person suffering from alcohol poisoning will appear confused and may turn blue or very pale. They may vomit and go into a seizure. Hypothermia and unconsciousness may set in. Death can occur if a person cannot be wakened when unconscious. Gag reflexes also become impaired when alcohol poisoning sets in leaving a person at risk of drowning in their own vomit.
- Alcohol can poison the body and lead to death, reports the Mayo Clinic.
- Gag reflexes also become impaired when alcohol poisoning sets in leaving a person at risk of drowning in their own vomit.
Hospital Procedures for Alcohol Poisoning
Alcohol-Related Breathing Problems
Why Kids Should Not Drink Alcohol
The Effects of Alcohol on Oxygen Absorption
Emotional Effects of Alcohol Abuse
What Effects Does Alcohol Have on the Body & Brain?
How to Treat Alcohol Burns
Alcohol & Child Abuse
Signs & Symptoms of Dying From Alcoholism
Four Stages of Alcoholism
- Greater Dallas Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
- Taylor B, Rehm J. The relationship between alcohol consumption and fatal motor vehicle injury: high risk at low alcohol levels. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2012;36(10):1827-34. doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2012.01785.x
- Ferré S, O'Brien MC. Alcohol and caffeine: The perfect storm. J Caffeine Res. 2011;1(3):153-162. doi:10.1089/jcr.2011.0017
- Stornetta A, Guidolin V, Balbo S. Alcohol-derived acetaldehyde exposure in the oral cavity. Cancers (Basel). 2018;10(1):20. doi:10.3390/cancers10010020
- Hadland SE, Levy S. Objective testing: Urine and other drug tests. Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2016;25(3):549-65. doi:10.1016/j.chc.2016.02.005
- Stewart SH, Koch DG, Willner IR, Randall PK, Reuben A. Hair ethyl glucuronide is highly sensitive and specific for detecting moderate-to-heavy drinking in patients with liver disease. Alcohol Alcohol. 2013;48(1):83-7. doi:10.1093/alcalc/ags109
- Fillmore MT, Jude R. Defining "binge" drinking as five drinks per occasion or drinking to a .08% BAC: which is more sensitive to risk? Am J Addict. 2011;20(5):468-75. doi:10.1111/j.1521-0391.2011.00156.x
- American Association for Clinical Chemistry. Ethanol. 2018.
- Cederbaum A. Alcohol metabolism. Clinics in Liver Disease. 2012;16(4):667-685. doi:10.1016/j.cld.2012.08.002
- LabCorp, Inc. Drugs of Abuse Reference Guide. 2007.
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Alcohol Metabolism: An Update. Alcohol Research & Health. 2007;30(1).
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."