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Friday, May 20, 2016

Do You Know the Health Risks of Chronic Heavy Drinking?

Beyond leading to dependence, drinking too much alcohol can have serious consequences for your health. Alcohol abuse can damage organs, weaken the immune system, and contribute to cancers, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA). In fact, researchers have linked alcohol consumption to more than 60 diseases.

Alcohol Abuse and Your Body
Chronic heavy drinking can lead to a variety of health conditions, including:
  • Anemia: Heavy drinking lowers your red blood cells. 
  • Cancer: Mouth, pharynx (throat), larynx (voice box), esophagus, liver, breast, and colorectal cancer have all been linked to alcohol use – and these risks are even higher among smokers.
  • Cardiovascular disease: Binge drinking causes platelets to clump into blood clots – and this can lead to stroke or heart attack. 
  • Cirrhosis: Alcohol is toxic to liver cells, and can severely scar the liver, making it unable to function.
  • Dementia: Heavy drinking speeds up the shrinkage of key regions in the brain responsible for memory.
  • Depression: While it’s still unknown whether drinking or depression comes first, the conditions are undisputedly linked. Depressed people often self-medicate with alcohol and heavy drinking has been study-proven to lead to depression.
  • Gout: Family history is a major risk factor but alcohol and poor nutrition play a big role, too. 
  • High blood pressure: Binge drinking can cause blood pressure to rise. 
  • Infectious disease: Heavy drinking suppresses your immune system and this can lead to a host of infections, including tuberculosis, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Nerve damage: Alcohol abuse can cause alcoholic neuropathy, a form of nerve damage that can result in symptoms including the feeling of painful pins and needles or numbness in the extremities, muscle weakness, incontinence, constipation, and erectile dysfunction.
  • Pancreatitis: Up to 60% of cases of chronic pancreatitis stem from alcohol consumption; heavy drinking inflames the pancreas and causes stomach irritation.
  • Seizures: Heavy drinking can cause epilepsy and can even trigger seizures in people without the neurological disorder.
Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse
According to the NIAAA, the young adult subgroup makes up 31.5% of alcoholics. At Hope Academy, we provide a safe environment in which teens and young adults feel comfortable sharing their concerns and setting sobriety goals. To learn more, call 866-930-4673.
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