Effects of Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Addiction

Alcohol Abuse

Car accidents. Violent arguments. Blackouts. You may be familiar with these examples of the most common consequences of alcohol abuse. They are the kinds of incidences that are reported in the media and spoken about in social circles. But the effects of alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction go far beyond the physical symptoms. In this article, we provide an overview of the effects of this life-threatening disease. 

Physical Effects

The body is affected by alcohol abuse in profound and far-reaching ways. Most commonly, alcoholics suffer liver damage to varying degrees. This may manifest in conditions such as jaundice, general fatigue and digestive problems. High doses of alcohol for prolonged periods of time can adversely affect the heart, putting individuals at risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks or strokes. In extreme cases, chronic alcohol users can suffer from thiamine deficiency which results in muscle weakness, blurry vision and long-term loss of appetite.

Mental Effects

It also affects the brain, particularly the neural centres that control one’s decision-making functions and memory. It is not uncommon for alcoholics who find recovery to be diagnosed with secondary mental illnesses such as neurotic anxiety and depression. In fact, what we know about alcohol abuse today, is that it can exacerbate an already existing, underlying mental condition. Extreme alcohol abusers may experience noticeable cognitive impairment that can cause long-term and irreparable damage. 

Emotional Effects

Many alcoholics can relate to the transition from social drinking to drinking in isolation, as their disease progresses. Alcohol abusers may not want to share their liquor, may feel ashamed of their behaviour and may lose interest in social activities, particularly those which do not involve an element of drinking. In addition, it is marked by increasing and persistent levels of irritability. Abusers may become noticeably upset and uneasy when they are prevented from drinking or confronted about their problem. Without the act of satisfying their craving, alcohol abusers cannot function in a healthy way.

Spiritual Effects

The spiritual effect of alcohol abuse is a topic that 12-step programmes cover extensively but one that is not often recognised by those who are not familiar with life in recovery. Many alcoholics describe their disease as feeling like a “hole in the soul,” or like something is fundamentally wrong with them or that they are unworthy of love. When coupled with low self-esteem and feelings of worthlessness, the spiritual effects are extensive and deeply troubling. 

If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction or is abusing alcohol, know that help is readily available. Contact us for a free consultation and we’ll support you in your recovery journey.  


American Addiction Centres