Complications of Alcoholism


Complications of alcoholism can vary greatly from one to the next. There can be physical problems that result from heavy drinking such as liver disorders, birth defects and neurological complications, as well as complications that affect your daily life such as a poor school or work performance or accidental injuries due to your inhibited state.

Complications of alcoholism include liver disorders such as hepatitis which can turn to cirrhosis after many years of drinking. Cirrhosis is the progressive destruction of liver tissue and is irreversible. Another complication is the gastrointestinal problems that can occur with heavy or long-time drinking habits, such as the inflammation of the stomach lining and damage to the pancreas. Continuous bouts of heavy drinking over a long time period can also lead to high blood pressure and may even damage your heart, both of which increases the risk of a stroke or heart failure from occurring.

For those who have diabetes, a complication of alcoholism is that the alcohol prevents glucose from being released by the liver causing low blood sugar. If the person is already taking insulin to lower their blood sugar, this can be extremely dangerous. Bone loss can become a problem after prolonged bouts of drinking as alcohol can inhibit the production of new bone, leading to a higher risk of fractures occurring.

The inhibition that alcohol causes on a person's judgment is also complications of alcoholism. People who drink have a slower reaction time than those who do not, thus accidental injuries to themselves or others during work can occur. Individuals who drink heavily are also susceptible to frequent mood swings and often abuse their spouses and children for supposed wrongs they have committed. Alcoholics have hair triggers and can become angry over the slightest provocation. Because of the impaired judgment of alcoholics they also have a poorer performance rating when at school or work; they may have a "I don't care" type of attitude.

Complications of alcoholism are not just limited to the person who drinks; they can affect anyone that is around the drinker. Impaired judgment can lead to accidents in the workplace as well as on the road if the person is driving. The physical complications can also be quite severe depending on the amount and length of time a person has been drinking; the more severe the complications, the more likely that the damage is irreversible.



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Random Facts about Alcohol

Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable mortality in the US, behind tobacco and diet/activity patterns. It contributes to 100,000 deaths annually.

J McGinnis & W Foege, "Actual Causes of Death in the United States," Journal of the American Medical Association {JAMA}, Vol. 270, No. 18, 11/10/93, p. 2208


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