It’s all too easy to feel discouraged when you realize that you need more comprehensive medical care to deal with the health consequences of alcohol misuse. However, it’s important to find hope by going through a comprehensive detoxification program and learning how to better care for yourself.
How Alcohol Affects the Mind and Body
No one develops alcohol use disorder (AUD) overnight. It’s a complicated condition that gradually erodes health.
As most of us know, alcohol use alters brain function right away. However, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) notes that “as individuals continue to drink alcohol over time, progressive changes can occur in the structure and function of their brains. These changes can compromise brain function and drive the transition from controlled, occasional use to chronic misuse, which can be difficult to control and lead to AUD.” NIAAA also states that people who develop moderate to severe AUD often struggle with addiction, which poses a threat to emotional and mental health.
Health Consequences of Alcohol Misuse
Additional facts from NIAAA outline the terrible toll AUD has on the body, too. It’s challenging for the body to process so much toxicity, so various systems start to break down. Here’s what many people experience.
Compromised Immune System
“Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease,” according to the NIAAA. People with AUD are more prone to chronic diseases such pneumonia and tuberculosis, and if someone has episodes of binge drinking (consuming four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men in one sitting), this lessens their ability to ward off infections for days afterward.
Greater Cancer Risk
“The evidence indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks—particularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time—the higher his or her risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer,” NIAAA indicates. Some research also points to an increased risk of some cancers for individuals who might not have AUD but who consume alcohol regularly.
NIAAA states that “drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart.” Various associated health conditions include:
- Arrhythmias (irregular heart beat)
- Cardiomyopathy (stretching and drooping of heart muscle)
- High blood pressure
This is the medical issue most people consider one of the major health consequences of alcohol misuse. NIAAA notes that various serious health conditions that develop include:
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Steatosis, or fatty liver
“Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion,” according to NIAAA. Studies indicate that symptoms of this acute condition may subside once someone gets treatment for AUD—but if not, multi-organ failure is a severe consequence.
How Alcohol Addiction Rehabilitation Helps Poor Health
Without question, many people experience the ravages of alcohol-induced health issues. But with proper medical guidance and rehabilitation, it’s possible to reduce their impact, ease symptoms and—in certain cases—resolve certain conditions to enjoy a much better quality of life.
Based on the severity of AUD, some people experience considerable renewal after medically supervised detoxification and treatment. For example, NIAAA points to various studies that indicate abstinence and other healthy living applications promote “natural recovery” of the mind and body. “Abstinence, in its simplest form, brings about either complete or partial recovery, but the extent of such recovery depends on the extent of the damage,” the organization states.
Regain Your Health at Great Oaks
But in order for this transformation to occur, it’s imperative to consider health a top priority. If you or a loved one struggle with AUD and wonder “what’s the point” of rehab when feeling as bad as you do, maybe it’s time to shift your perspective.
At Great Oaks Recovery Center outside of Houston, we strive to provide dedicated whole-person care that meets individuals where they are when they arrive at our door. It’s not uncommon for our board-certified professionals to evaluate and cater to a person’s immediate medical needs and help them stabilize before proceeding with a strategic detoxification approach. At our accredited facility, we use a multidisciplinary approach to drug and alcohol rehabilitation. People in our programs receive care from medical doctors, licensed and certified counselors, licensed social workers, and a broad range of nurses and nursing assistants.
Only by moving step by step with a clear mind and a restored body can someone do the treatment work necessary for the healthier outcome of long-term sobriety. And it all starts with one phone call—reach out with your questions today to see how Great Oaks can help you overcome the past and plan a better future.