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What is Alcohol?
At Pomarri – recover centers, we safely treat alcohol abuse (binge drinkers) on an outpatient basis.
Here are some key facts about alcohol abuse and its associated dangers.
Most people have a general idea of what alcohol is and which drinks are considered alcoholic ones, but beyond common knowledge, there is still a great deal to understand about alcohol.
For example, you’ll often hear the phrase “drugs and alcohol,” which implies that alcohol is not a drug. Alcohol, however, is classified as a depressant drug, meaning that it targets the central nervous system and slows down vital functions.
The most common types of alcohol are beer (lager, ale, wheat beer, etc.); wine (red wine, white wine, rose wine, champagne, etc.); and spirits (vodka, whiskey, rum, tequila, gin, liquor, etc.)
HOW DOES ALCOHOL WORK?
Alcohol works by targeting your central nervous system. Initially, drinking alcohol has almost a stimulant effect, causing people to become more animated and less reserved. When you continue drinking, however, alcohol’s effects on the central nervous system begin to magnify, altering your senses, motor functions, thinking, understanding, and reasoning. This results in dulled hearing, impaired vision, slowed reaction time, slurred speech, hazy thinking, and foggy memory when you are drinking.
DANGERS OF ALCOHOL ABUSE AND ADDICTION
The “pick-me-up” and calming effects that alcohol produces, combined with the legality of alcohol use, make alcohol an especially popular drug. In fact, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 52.2 percent of Americans use alcohol. In addition, nearly a quarter of persons ages 12 were binge drinkers at some point in the 30 days before the survey was conducted (that’s about 60.1 million people).
Alcohol abuse carries with it a myriad of negative consequences, both physical and psychological that need to be given attention.
Chronic alcohol abuse and binge drinking most commonly have long-term effects on the heart and liver, but the effects of alcohol abuse are far-reaching. Long-term physical effects include cardiomyopathy (stretching and drooping of heart muscle), arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), stroke, high blood pressure, steatosis (fatty liver), alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and pancreatitis. Chronic alcohol abuse can also significantly increase your risk of various forms of cancer, including mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast cancer. It can also lead to a weakened immune system. Any of these health conditions has the potential to be life threatening.
Psychological effects of chronic alcohol abuse include sleep pattern changes, changes in mood or personality, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, delusions, shortened attention span, and impaired coordination. Ultimately alcohol abuse can lead to chronic psychological symptoms and even amplify existing mental health issues.
Ultimately, alcohol abuse can have major behavioral effects. It can lead to behaviors such as lying, growing restless, growing lethargic, and withdrawing from once-pleasurable activities.
Those who chronically binge drink and abuse alcohol might also begin to see a decreased performance in school or work, or they may begin to fall short of home responsibilities. Alcohol abuse can also lead to financial strain, homelessness, job loss, damaged relationships, divorce, and so much more.
This content has been verified by APRN Jared Hawkins
Jared Hawkins is a Certified Family Nurse Practitioner with an extensive background in medical-surgical, oncology, orthopedic, hospice, post-acute rehab, and addiction medicine. He enjoys working with patients in their unique circumstances and helping them find their intrinsic value to overcome their challenges.