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Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

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When a person experiences addiction to alcohol, they risk facing a host of long-term effects of alcohol abuse. It may be hard for them to take the long view, but time accrued as someone experiencing alcohol addiction means the risks for negative consequences only increase. 

These can include physical, mental, and emotional damage. In addition, a person’s general life may become unmanageable. They may suffer the loss of relationships, jobs, or financial security. If they are arrested for alcohol-related actions, things take another dark turn that deals a real financial and liability blow to their everyday lives. 

Physical Damage Done by Alcohol Abuse Can Be Long-Term or Even Fatal

Casual or occasional binge drinking can cause ill effects for a person. Once they develop a full-blown addiction to alcohol, the toll on their physical health can be quite detrimental. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) reports that alcohol abuse can cause physical damage in many ways, including:

  • Heart damage: This can include high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, stroke, and cardiomyopathy.
  • Immune System: A weakened immune system slows down the body’s ability to fight infection. This makes a person more susceptible to disease, including pneumonia and tuberculosis.
  • Liver: This can include fibrosis, cirrhosis of the liver, steatosis, and alcoholic hepatitis.
  • Pancreas: This can include the development of pancreatitis, which prevents proper digestion.
  • Cancer: Alcoholism has been shown to have ties to developing many kinds of cancers. These cancers include liver, breast, esophageal, colorectal, and head and neck.


Other long-term effects of alcohol abuse on physical health reported by the Mayo Clinic include: 

  • Bone damage: Osteoporosis can develop, as well as an increased risk of bone fractures.
  • Neurological damage: Alcoholism can impact the nervous system, resulting in numbness and pain in the hands and feet. It may also result in short-term memory loss and dementia.
  • Sexual Dysfunction: Men may develop erectile dysfunction from excessive drinking.
  • Pregnancy Complications: Drinking alcohol during pregnancy can contribute to birth defects and miscarriage.

Alcohol Addiction and Mental Health Often Go Hand-in-Hand

The NIAAA released a study that showed that upwards of 80 percent of people addicted to alcohol also experienced mood disturbances. Psychiatric disorders that often accompany alcoholism include depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and schizophrenia. 

Sometimes a person who lives with a mental health diagnosis uses alcohol in an attempt to self-medicate. This becomes cyclical, in that often the negative feelings that come with alcohol addiction can increase a person’s amount of episodes of feeling the very symptoms they are trying to suppress. 

Because the prevalence of people who have both an addiction to alcohol or drugs and at least one mental health diagnosis is so high, treating them together has become commonplace. Treatment of addiction and co-occurring disorders, as they are known, can come from an individual counselor. Because the long-term effects of alcohol abuse and mental health issues are complicated, effective treatment often begins in a residential or inpatient setting. 

The Long-Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse Extend Beyond Physical and Mental Complications

Living life in the grips of alcoholism means a great deal of a person’s life may be compromised. When someone’s focus lies on obtaining and using alcohol, other things tend to fall to the wayside. It may be difficult for the person struggling with addiction to see through the fog and recognize how their addiction impacts their overall lives. Other ways in which the long-term effects of alcohol abuse can impact a person’s life include:

Romantic relationships: Marriages that once thrived are now finding that alcohol has become an interloper. This can lead to breakups, separations, and divorces. If children are involved, they pay the price for the disruption of their family units. 

Domestic Abuse: A study led by an Oxford University professor found that males who lived with a dependency on alcohol or drugs were six to seven times more likely to commit domestic abuse against their female partners. 

Career: A person who is often under the influence of alcohol or nursing a hangover may end up losing their job. If they are spending most of their free time drinking, then finding work, or holding onto a job becomes problematic. 

Financial Issues: The amount of money spent on alcohol adds up quickly. Sometimes monthly bills go unpaid in order to spend that money on buying alcohol. People often attempt to hide their alcohol purchases by lying about what the household money is going towards. They may also rack up credit card or loan debt in order to keep the drinks flowing. 

Legal Consequences: Many people who make a habit of drinking eventually get arrested for DWI/DUI. The cost of incurring a DWI/DUI will run a person, at minimum, several thousand dollars. Costs associated with this include bail, court-ordered fines, classes for traffic school and substance abuse education, and Department of Motor Vehicle fees. 

Vehicle insurance rates will increase. A person may also have to pay for an ignition interlock device for their vehicle, as well as costs associated with being on probation. Factor in attorney fees and an arrest of this type can go well into the tens of thousands of dollars. 

Alcohol Abuse Treatment in Texas

If an addiction to alcohol has become a problem, it’s time to seek lasting help. Purpose Driven Recovery offers a professional sober living program that includes therapy, sober coaching, and round-the-clock onsite management. We offer separate men’s and women’s housing in the Houston area. Are you ready to take charge of your alcohol addiction and embrace sobriety and recovery? Contact Purpose Driven Recovery by calling (713) 266-1507 or, click here to email us.

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