The Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Most of us tend to think of alcohol use affecting mainly the liver and the brain. However, recent research points to evidence that alcohol impacts and effects almost every organ and system in the body. Further, the effects can be temporary or permanent depending on the amount consumed and the frequency of consumption.

According to drugrehab.org, “Alcohol is ingested orally and travels through the esophagus to the stomach. Alcohol requires no digestion before it enters the bloodstream. If the stomach is empty, twenty percent of the alcohol is absorbed through the stomach walls into the bloodstream and begins to affect the brain within a minute. For this reason, many alcoholics prefer to drink on an empty stomach. Although the esophagus is only the tube through which an alcoholic drink passes on its way to the stomach, half of oral, esophageal cancers and laryngeal cancers are related to regular drinking. The remaining alcohol makes its way to the small intestine where it is also readily absorbed” (http://www.drugrehab.org/alcohol-rehab/alcohol-effects/).

Those who drink on a regular basis are doing even more damage to their bodies. Gastritis, a condition that irritates the stomach lining tissues, can occur as well as reflux, ulcers, and erosion of the stomach wall. Malnutrition can present due to damage to the small intestine absorption mechanisms from regular alcohol intake. If individuals drink regularly over long periods of time, other conditions such as hepatitis, inflammation of the liver, and/or development of a fatty liver can occur. Ultimately, cirrhosis, defined as irreversible damage to the liver manifested in permanent scaring and decreased function, occurs from long-term regular drinking. Blood cells are also damaged making alcoholics more infection prone due to white blood cell abnormalities.

Mental function is also impaired with alcohol intake. First, drinkers may feel euphoric and calm. Then, judgement may become impaired which often leads to drinking more than intended. Memories can be lost, vision blurred, and coordination impaired with more alcohol. Last, even more alcohol intake can lead to confusion, stupor, coma, and even death from intoxication.

Although some damage from alcohol intake may never be repaired, abstinence can definitely heal many affected parts of the body. Generally, when alcoholism is present, medically supervised rehab is recommend. Getting enough vitamins and rest is necessary to repair the damage that has occurred. Sobriety can be achieved through this type of supervision, along with counseling and other support systems. Mental functioning can also be improved and regained with sobriety assuming that permanent brain damage hasn’t occurred. Outpatient therapy can help with lasting mental or cognitive impairment and is generally necessary to combat the effects of alcohol, on the body.

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