Both alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence can cause many different types of problems that can disrupt a person’s life. They include health, emotional, social, work or school, and financial problems.
Health problems related to alcohol
The short-term effects of alcohol on the body include:
- upset stomach;
- lack of coordination and judgment;
- headaches; and
Misuse of alcohol can cause many different long-term problems because the whole body is affected. Some of these problems can even lead to death; Some of the more serious problems are:
- Heart disease: high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, heart damage, heart failure
- Cancer (mainly in conjunction with the cancerous effects of other substances, such as cigarette smoke);
- Liver problems: liver damage, hepatitis, cirrhosis, cancer;
- Problems of the stomach, lungs, kidneys, skin, muscle, and bones;
- Infections (alcohol suppresses the immune system.);
- Mental disorders: problems with attention, learning, and memory; depression; mood swings; anxiety disorders;
- Malnutrition; and
- Impotence and infertility in men.
Other alcohol problems:
- Women who drink while pregnant have an increased chance of miscarriage. Babies of mothers who drink may be born at a low birth weight and with physical, mental, and behavioral problems. Many of these problems last into adulthood.
- Alcohol abuse and dependence also substantially increase the risk of accidents and violent behavior. For example, alcohol plays a major part in over half of all deaths from car accidents. Misuse of alcohol increases the risk of rape, domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, and murder.
- Social Problems
- Alcohol use can make mild social problems worse by causing people to be more irritable and likely to argue and by affecting judgment and control of behavior. Alcohol use can also be the topic of arguments.
Misuse of alcohol can lead to a number of moderate and serious social problems including:
- losing friends;
- losing jobs;
- child abuse and domestic violence;
- separation of family members; and
- Work Or School Problems
Misuse of alcohol may cause performance at work or school to suffer in ways such as:
- arriving late;
- making more mistakes;
- leaving assignments incomplete;
- problems with bosses and co-workers;
- getting poor grades or evaluations;
- flunking out of school; and
- losing jobs.
Misuse of alcohol may make current money problems worse and cause new ones, including:
- having less money for necessary expenses like food and clothing;
- neglecting to pay bills; and
- creating additional expenses, such as extra medical costs, fines, or car repairs.
Yet, other problems include:
- Experiencing Blackouts: a period of amnesia caused by overuse of alcohol. It is different from passing out because in a blackout the person is fully conscious. The person seems fully aware of what s/he is doing and saying and in full control. However, after the blackout, the person has no memory of what s/he did or said during that time period. A blackout can last for anywhere from seconds to days.
- Depression or other mental health problem: People may use alcohol to help deal with the symptoms of depression and anxiety disorders. However, depression and anxiety may also be caused by alcoholism, in which case they often go away after withdrawal from alcohol. Another problem that can go along with an alcohol problem is abuse of and dependence on other drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, sedatives, and nicotine. A person may use alcohol to get rid of unpleasant effects of these substances or to replace them when they are not available.
- Interacting with a prescription or over-the-counter medicine; More than 100 medicines interact in harmful ways with alcohol. The effects of alcohol are greater with medicines that slow the central nervous system, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medicines, and some painkillers. Medicines for certain disorders, such as heart disease and diabetes, can be dangerous when used with alcohol. If you are taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicines, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about whether it is safe for you to drink any alcohol.
- Restless sleep or insomnia: Alcohol use before going to sleep can interfere with normal sleep patterns. It can also help start or worsen sleep disorders such as apnea. People who use alcohol to help them sleep may fall asleep more easily. However, their sleep in later hours is disturbed leaving them tired the next day.
- Other addictions, including smoking cigarettes: Between 80 and 95 percent of alcoholics smoke cigarettes. That’s three times the average rate. Smokers develop alcoholism at a rate 10 times higher than nonsmokers. The combination of smoking and drinking makes health problems worse than just smoking or drinking alone. This is especially true for some types of cancer.
- Violence: Misuse of alcohol is found in many cases of rape, domestic violence, child abuse, suicide, and murder. In addition, people who have experienced domestic violence or child abuse have a higher chance of becoming alcohol abusers. Alcohol itself does not cause violent behavior. However, it may increase the risk of violent behavior in certain people. This occurs in part because alcohol impairs judgment and reduces impulse control. Cultural and other environmental factors may also play a significant role.
- Risky sexual behavior: People are more likely to engage in casual sex after drinking than when they are sober. Alcohol impairs judgment about having sex and using birth control and safe sex methods. This increases the chance of rape, unwanted pregnancy, and infection with sexually transmitted diseases including HIV.
- drinking and driving: Alcohol is involved in more than half of all deaths from car accidents. Each year about 17,000 Americans are killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents, thousands are permanently disabled, and almost one million are injured. Alcohol impairs reflexes, coordination, vision, perception, and judgment. Impairment starts with the first drink. Most people are very impaired before they have become legally drunk. Alcohol can cause a person to have a car accident even if s/he generally does not abuse it. People who abuse alcohol are at higher risk. The term “drunk driver” also refers to people who are drunk while riding bicycles or motorcycles, or operating boats or snowmobiles.
More problems related to excessive drinking >>