What Does Alcoholism Affect?
Alcoholism is the misuse and abuse of alcohol. Alcohol has become an acceptable substance for people to use for many different reasons. Mostly alcohol is easily obtainable, affordable, and socially acceptable to use. However, there is a line that some alcohol users cross that veer into the path of abuse. Once someone is abusing alcohol there can be a significant impact on their lives and the lives of others because of their alcoholism.
Short Term Effects of Alcohol
Alcohol can have significant short-term effects for someone who is using it consistently. Alcohol initially gives a person the ability to open up, become more talkative and social. At the same time, alcohol is speeding up that same person’s heart rate and expanding their blood vessels even after one or two drinks. Drinking over four drinks starts to impair a person’s judgment and decision-making.
At the same time, alcohol begins to impair the cells of the nervous system. After nine drinks, a person’s reactions begin to change and you may experience slurred speech and lack of focus. After nine drinks the liver struggles to filter out alcohol which is why a hangover typically occurs the next morning. Anything over twelve drinks can significantly impact breathing and heart rate and can lead to other serious complications like alcohol poisoning, coma, or death. Short-term effects can happen before a person even experiences alcoholism.
Impact on Others
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism affect more than just the alcoholic. An alarming number of people die every year in the United States from drunk driving accidents. Alcohol impacts a person’s ability to make rational decisions, make cognitively sound decisions, as well as their reactions. Because of this, driving under the influence is illegal but it still continues to happen. Most states have toughened their consequences on drunk drivers. Even with tougher consequences, alcoholism is still a primary reason for poor decision making which can affect others, not just the alcoholic.
Alcoholism and Family
In addition to the impact of alcoholism on society and others, alcoholism has a significant effect on the person’s family. Alcoholism can increase abuse in the home, financial strain, impairment in family decision-making, and neglect of children. Partners of alcoholics are more likely to experience violence within their relationship. Children of alcoholics are at risk to develop alcohol abuse themselves as well as various other development struggles. Alcohol abuse becomes the central focus for someone who is an alcoholic. Needing time to nurse a hangover, neglecting important duties within the family system, legal problems, and an ability to stop drinking all have serious consequences for the family.
Alcohol affects the central nervous system which impacts the way the brain communicates with the nerves in a person’s body. It is a common misconception that alcohol is a stimulant because it can increase heart rate and alertness. However, alcohol is considered a depressant which is why people who struggle with symptoms of anxiety might initially feel better when they use alcohol. Because alcohol is a depressant it can slow down awareness and consciousness and cause people to feel depressed the longer, they use alcohol.
Long-term effects of alcohol can lead to liver disease, heart disease, anxiety, and depression. Binge drinking is a form of alcoholism that can be easily dismissed. Binge drinking is defined as someone who drinks a large amount of alcohol in a small period of time and typically does not drink daily. Even binge drinking can have the same medical complications as someone who abuses alcohol daily.
Alcoholism and Recovery
Alcoholism is one of the hardest substances to recover from. Alcohol use is socially acceptable and triggers for drinking can be found everywhere. Those who identify as alcoholics and struggling with alcoholism may have a hard time down the road to recovery. It is important to remember the benefits of joining recovery because of the side effects of alcohol. Quitting alcohol can immediately cause a person’s health to improve. In addition to immediately feeling better physically, stopping alcohol can improve skin.
Effects of alcoholism can leave a person’s skin looking inflamed, dehydrated with broken capillaries on the face. Improving the redness of the skin will happen once alcohol abuse stops. People also have improved sleep. Alcohol abuse can lead to terrible sleeping habits and trouble sleeping. Recovery from alcoholism can also improve mental health. Those who struggle with mental health tend to use alcohol for self-medicating purposes. By stopping alcohol abuse, a person can focus on proper medication management, increased self-confidence and self-respect. Alcoholism also leads to poor nutrition because those who drink eat less and unhealthier. Replacing alcohol with well balanced meals helps with the recovery process.