The use of alcohol has become so normalized in American culture. Many people begin drinking as teenagers in high school, learn how to binge-drink at college parties, and go for after-work drinks with coworkers throughout adulthood.
According to a 2017 study, nearly 27% of adults in the US had reported engaging in binge drinking in the past month.
While many people can and do develop an addiction to alcohol, heavy drinking can have terrible long term effects on the brain and body even for those who are not alcoholics. For this article, we’ve chosen to focus on just three of the more serious effects.
Your liver is responsible for filtering out any toxins from your system, alcohol included. Each time you drink alcohol, your liver creates enzymes to break down the molecules so you can metabolize them.
Of course, the more often you drink, the more strain you put on your liver by making it work so hard so often. Chronic strain on your liver from alcohol abuse may eventually result in damage.
Common types of liver conditions heavy drinkers can develop include fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and alcoholic liver disease.
If you’ve had more than a few drinks in one night, you may have experienced to a small degree the effects alcohol can have on the brain. Blacking out, when a person can’t remember what happened while they were under the influence of alcohol, is fairly normalized in society, particularly in college party culture. Prolonged heavy drinking can lead to long-term cognitive damage.
The severity of the repercussions on a person’s memory depends on a few individual factors, such as how early in life they started drinking, overall health, and whether there’s a family history of drinking.
Someone who is suffering from memory loss due to heavy drinking may experience gaps in their long-term memory and poor short-term memory. They may make up details to fill in those they forgot. They may not even realize they’re having problems with their memory.
Alcohol has been linked to many different forms of cancer, particularly in the liver and kidneys, but also in the throat, and esophagus if the person smokes tobacco as well. Women who drink even moderately have a higher risk of developing breast cancer, while men have a higher risk for developing colon or rectal cancers due to alcohol.
Since many details on how cancer develops are still unknown, it’s not certain how exactly alcohol increases the user’s risk. However, researchers have developed a few good theories.
Each of these effects is avoidable by either drinking in moderation or abstaining completely from alcohol. If you or someone you love is abusing alcohol, we’re here to help.