How Alcoholism Affects the Body

Addiction can affect everyone, but how alcoholism affects an individual can differ. Women are physically smaller than men, carry less water, and have more hormone fluctuations. Women also process, metabolize, and eliminate alcohol much differently than their male counterparts, which means they could be more prone to long-term effects as their bodies retain alcohol for longer periods of time.

The effects of alcohol on the liver have long been documented, but alcoholism can greatly impact an addict’s overall health.

BRAIN

BRAIN

Those who drink excessively may cause irreversible brain damage and experience memory lapses and slowed reaction times even if they achieve sobriety. Intelligence and judgment can be permanently impacted.
  • Irreversible brain damage
  • Hepatic encephalopathy
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Changes in mood and personality
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Memory loss
  • Diminished intelligence
EYES

EYES

Alcohol abuse can affect the absorption of vitamins, which can cause weakness or paralysis of the eye muscles. Other effects include eye twitching, dry eye, decreased vision, and an increased risk of cataracts.
  • Eye muscle weakening
  • Eye paralysis
  • Twitching
  • Dehydration
  • Diminished vision
  • Risk of cataracts
  • Angle-closure glaucoma
  • Permanent vision loss
TEETH

TEETH

Excessive alcohol consumption can cause cavities, long-term tooth decay, and an increased risk of periodontal disease. The mouth is also susceptible to dryness, sores, and more.
  • Stains
  • High levels of plaque
  • Tooth decay
  • Tooth loss
  • Cavities
  • Dry mouth
  • Mouth sores
  • Risk of periodontal disease
  • Oral cancer
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM

CIRCULATORY SYSTEM

Cardiac arrest, heart attack, myocarditis, endocarditis, and stroke are all more likely among alcoholics.
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Blood clotting
  • Anemia
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Stroke
HEART

HEART

Alcoholism and heavy drinking can lead to serious heart problems, such as cardiomyopathy, irregular heartbeat, and cardiac arrest.
  • Arrythmia
  • Fatal heart attack
  • Myocarditis
  • Endocarditis
  • Vascular thrombosis
  • Pulmonary edema
LUNGS

LUNGS

Alcohol can interfere with the normal functioning of lung tissue, which can increase the risk of lung injury, infections, and acute respiratory distress syndrome.
  • Aspiration pneumonitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Lung infections
  • Tuberculosis
  • Acute respiratory distress
LIVER

LIVER

The liver is susceptible to dangerous side effects from heavy alcohol use, including liver disease, cirrhosis, and inflammation.
  • Liver damage or scarring
  • Cirrhosis
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Alcoholic liver disease
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
 
STOMACH

STOMACH

Alcohol addiction can cause ulcers, damage to the digestive system, internal hemorrhaging, and more.
  • Ulcers
  • Perforation of organ walls
  • Digestive system complications
  • Tissue death
  • Internal hemorrhaging
KIDNEYS

KIDNEYS

Alcohol abuse may cause the kidneys to improperly regulate hormones, which may also lead to kidney cancer or kidney failure.
  • Kidney lesions
  • Kidney cancer
  • Renal failure
  • Irregular hormone levels
PANCREAS

PANCREAS

Due to the increased consumption of alcohol, which can quickly turn into sugar, an addict may be more likely to develop pancreatic damage, diabetes and pancreatitis.
  • Maldigestion
  • Pancreatic duct blockage
  • Tissue damage
  • Pancreatitis
  • Diabetes
SKIN

SKIN

Hangovers aren’t the only way alcohol affects appearance. Skin is immediately dehydrated and deprived of skin and nutrients. Long-term use can cause rashes, spots, and more.
  • Bloating
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Redness
  • Rash
  • Acne
REPRODUCTION

REPRODUCTION

Irregular menstrual cycle or complete cessation of a menstrual cycle, the absence of ovulation, infertility, and an increased risk of STDs are some of the effects of alcohol abuse.
  • Risk for sexually transmitted diseases
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Irregular ovulation
  • Fertility issues
BONES

BONES

Long-term alcohol addiction can lead to arthritis, osteoporosis, osteomyelitis, and an increased risk of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ).
  • Calcium deficiency
  • Bone loss
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Osteoporosis
  • TMJ
  • Arthritis
JOINTS

JOINTS

Arthritis, sprains and strains, inflammation, and infection of the joints are common among those addicted to alcohol.
  • Joint pain
  • Gout
  • Arthritis
  • Avascular necrosis
  • Risk of sprains/strains
  • Inflammation
  • Infection
EMOTIONAL HEALTH

EMOTIONAL HEALTH

The effects of alcoholism on emotional health can vary, however, most alcoholics may experience mood swings, anxiety, severe depression, angry outbursts, and more.
  • Changes in mood
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Damaged relationships
  • Poor self-care
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