The Physical Effects of Alcohol

The physical effects of alcohol can be dangerous.

The Physical Effects of Alcohol Explained

Alcoholism is a disease that affects millions of people worldwide. To better understand the physical effects of alcohol, it is vital to know how alcoholism starts and progresses.

Alcohol can cause mental and physical addiction. Sometimes, there are fatal consequences as a result of consuming alcohol. Alcohol affects some aspects of a person’s life, including finances, legal, relationships, and personal life.

A dependence upon alcohol should always be taken seriously.

 

Early Stages of Alcoholism

Consuming alcohol is common in the United States. Most people have had at least one alcoholic beverage in their life. Some will drink moderately. Others may binge drink or begin to drink alcoholically. Heavy drinking does not always indicate alcoholism however. A person also does not need to down half a bottle of scotch or more every night to be an alcoholic.

Alcohol impacts a person’s judgment quickly. For some people, just one alcoholic beverage can affect their ability to make healthy decisions. Almost everyone who has an alcohol use disorder diagnosis began their drinking safely.

How Does Alcoholism Start?

What can cause someone to become an alcoholic? The shift from normal drinking to alcoholism generally happens when someone changes why or how they consume alcohol. For example, someone might go from drinking with their friends to drinking to relieve pain. When the change occurs, there is usually an increase in cravings. From there, the person will likely start drinking more and more.

It has as much to do with their relationship with alcohol as it does behavior. A true alcoholic will not put down the drink in the face of consequences. Many people drink to excess in college for example. Someone who binge drinks in college may be exhibiting an alcohol use disorder at the time, but if that person is able to simply quit on their own or cut back substantially and drink only lightly after that, then that person isn’t typically what you’d call and alcoholic.

Many people don’t get the effects they are looking for when drinking alcohol, so they turn to harder liquor or increase their alcohol intake. A lot of people that struggle with alcohol abuse slowly increase the amount they drink. When someone drinks a lot of alcohol, especially for a longer time, they will likely start experiencing the physical effects of alcohol use.

If someone doesn’t get addiction rehab help, the physical effects could cause significant health issues. Alcoholism could take their life via drunk driving or deterioration of body organs, as well.

 

Immediate Effects from Abusing Alcohol

Alcohol can consume a person’s life. It can lead to severe health issues. Some of the health issues will take longer to develop. However, other effects can happen right after someone starts drinking.

Some immediate effects from abusing alcohol include:

  • Getting into an accident or having an injury
  • Having an arrest for reckless or irresponsible behavior
  • Higher chance of engaging in risky sexual behaviors
  • Relationship damage
  • Severe dehydration
  • Blackouts
  • Damage to fetus
  • Alcohol poisoning

These are just some immediate effects of abusing alcohol. Some long-term effects could occur with alcoholism, as well.

 

Long-Term Physical Effects of Alcohol Abuse

If someone keeps abusing alcohol for longer, they will start experiencing more severe health effects. In addition to the effects above, long-term abuse of alcohol can lead to:

  • High risk of neurological issues
  • Increased risk of having a stroke
  • Digestion issues
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased risk of developing mental health issues
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Brain damage

These are just a few of the many long-term physical effects that could occur from alcohol abuse. If you or someone you know has alcohol addiction, don’t wait. Getting treatment now could help to prevent some or all of these long-term effects.

 

Other Issues Caused by Alcohol Abuse

The immediate and long-term effects above can happen to anyone.

There are some other issues caused by alcohol abuse, as well. Some of these issues may include:

  • Malnutrition
  • Higher risk of getting anemia
  • Immune system function issues
  • Higher risk of getting pancreatitis
  • Seizures

The only way for someone to fight against these health problems is to quit drinking. The best way to overcome alcoholism is to get professional rehab help. The rehab team members can help you work through obstacles, triggers, personal issues, and much more. They can help you manage any health issues you already have, as well.

 

Most people who succeed in an alcohol addiction program don’t miss their drinking days. They may have cravings and triggers, but they realize their life is better in recovery than drinking. It may take some time before you feel like this. However, once you start getting treatment, you can find more meaning in life when you are sober.

Get Help for the Physical Effects of Alcohol

Millions of Americans are living with alcoholism or an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).  A lot of the people who have an alcohol addiction experience immediate physical effects of alcohol use. The people who continue drinking for years may start experiencing the long-term effects, as well. Alcohol addiction comes with serious psychological effects as well.

Even if you don’t have any of the long-term physical effects of alcohol yet, it is still best to get treatment now. Many of the physical effects of alcohol which occur later are irreversible. Other than these effects of alcohol there are the consequences of behavior while drinking. Driving while intoxicated, fights, destroyed relationships, high-risk sexual behaviors. The results can be tragic. But they don’t need to be. You can also take back control over your life with the right kind of help.

Contact us at Harmony Treatment and Wellness today. We can answer your questions and explain how our alcohol treatment program can help.

 

Vicodin and Alcohol: A Dangerous Combination

A Man with Vicodin and Alcohol

Vicodin is a prescription painkiller that contains the opioid hydrocodone and acetaminophen (Tylenol.) It is a psychoactive drug that when used in combination with alcohol or other intoxicating substances, can result in side effects of the prescription drug compounded with the individual effects of each substance.

You should always ask your physician about potential adverse reactions to any prescription medication, especially if you plan to use it in conjunction with other drugs or alcohol – an action that is not generally not advised by any medical professional.

Moreover, using Vicodin alone certainly does not come without its risks, but these risks are significantly increased when used along with other psychoactive substances.

What is Vicodin?

The active ingredients hydrocodone and Tylenol in Vicodin collaborate to relieve moderate to severe pain and reduce fever. Hydrocodone blocks nerve cells in the brain that create the sensation of pain. Acetaminophen boosts a person’s tolerance to pain, so injuries don’t feel as intense.

Side Effects of Vicodin and Alcohol

Both alcohol and Vicodin are central nervous system depressants and can have adverse side effects when used together. Both also have a high potential for addiction, so if you have a personal or family history of a substance use disorder, it is best to avoid them.

Side effects of using Vicodin and alcohol may include:

  • Breathing problems
  • Dizziness and drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory loss and confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Loss of coordination and motor function
  • Constipation or difficulty urinating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Liver damage

Dangers of Mixing Vicodin and Alcohol

Vicodin and alcohol are both potentially dangerous substances that carry individual risks. These hazards are compounded when the substances are used in combination. Both alcohol and acetaminophen have the potential to cause liver damage, so mixing the two is especially dangerous.

There is also an increased risk long-term of stroke, cardiac arrest, various forms of cancer and more. Some reactions may be fatal – like heaving alcohol use, hydrocodone can decrease breathing, and the elderly or people with serious lung issues are particularly vulnerable.

Vicodin and Alcohol Addiction

If your doctor prescribed Vicodin, he or she will monitor you to make sure you aren’t misusing it and will alter your dosage or prescribe a different medication if necessary. You should be able to identify the signs and symptoms of Vicodin addiction before you become addicted, however.

You may have developed an addiction problem if you exhibit any of the following symptoms:

You increase your dosage of Vicodin yourself instead of consulting your physician. Over time, the body can develop a tolerance to Vicodin, so after a while, it might not be as effective. If this occurs, you should contact your doctor immediately, rather than simply increase your dosage without advice. This is dangerous because your body will continue to need an increasing amount of Vicodin to get the same effect – a reaction that could potentially lead to an overdose if you stay on that path.

You start to associate Vicodin use with a lack of pain or pleasurable feelings. Vicodin is usually prescribed to numb pain after an injury or surgery. It’s indicated for the treatment of acute (short-term) pain, but some people become addicted to the way it makes them feel. Moreover, if you feel you need to take Vicodin whenever you feel pain or that you can’t experience pleasure without it, you may be developing an addiction to Vicodin.

You continue using Vicodin after your doctor has discontinued your prescription. Your physician may decide to take you off Vicodin because your injury is healed or because he or she is concerned that you’ve become addicted. If you save your pills then take them after your doctor advises you to quit, purchase more on the black market, or doctor-shop to obtain more drugs, you may be addicted.

Vicodin and Alcohol | Harmony Treatment and Wellness

You can’t resist drinking alcohol while taking Vicodin. Combining alcohol and Vicodin is dangerous and potentially deadly. Alcohol is a depressant, so it depresses the central nervous system. Taking a depressant along with Vicodin, which also suppresses your system, can cause your heart and lungs to stop functioning. Also, alcohol impairs your judgment so it’s easier to overdose on Vicodin while intoxicated.

Treatment for Vicodin and Alcohol

If you or someone you love is battling an addiction to Vicodin, alcohol or both, we can help. Harmony Treatment and Wellness Centers specializes in caring for patients who are experiencing substance use disorders as well as co-existing psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Treatment for alcohol and drugs such as Vicodin typically starts with a medical detox, a clinical process that in which the body rids itself of toxic substances. After this stage, clients are encouraged to move into inpatient, partial hospitalization, or outpatient programs, where they obtain the knowledge, confidence, and skills they need to live a life free from drugs and alcohol.

You can regain your life and enjoy long-lasting sobriety and wellness. Please don’t wait another day. We can help – start now!

Recent Alcohol Statistics

Alcohol Statistics

Alcohol abuse and addiction impacts people of all ages, genders, races, and walks of life. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), an estimated 88,000 people die each year in the U.S. from alcohol-related deaths. In fact, alcohol continues to be one of the country’s top preventable causes of death, taking second place only to tobacco and a poor diet/sedentary lifestyle.

Alcohol abuse has a significant effect on the entire body, particularly the brain, mouth, heart, pancreas, liver and immune system. Despite its adverse impact, more Americans than ever before in the country’s history consume alcohol on a regular basis.

Understanding the hazards of alcohol use and its effect on society can help you, and your loved ones make healthier and better-informed choices.

Alcohol Statistics and Facts – United States

Prevalence of Alcohol Consumption

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH, 2015):

  • More than 86% of individuals aged 18 or older reported that they consumed alcohol at some point in their lives.
  • 70% reported that they drank in the past year.
  • 56% reported that they drank in the past month.

Prevalence of Binge Drinking and Heavy Alcohol Consumption (NSDUH, 2015)

In the past month, nearly 27% of individuals aged 18 or older reported that in the past month they engaged in binge drinking and 7.0% reported that they engaged in heavy alcohol consumption.

Moreover, at least 65 million Americans report past-month binge drinking, which is more than 40% of current alcohol consumers.

Prevalence of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

According to NIAAA, alcohol use disorder is a “chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.”

According to the 2015 NSDUH, more than 15 million adults aged 18 and older – 6.2% of this age group – had an alcohol use disorder. This number includes 9.8 million men (8.4% of men in this age group) and 5.3 million women (4.2% of women in this age group).

Less than 7% who had AUD in the past year received treatment. This stat includes 7.4% of men and just 5.4% of women with an AUD in this age group.

Women and Alcohol Consumption

  • More than 45% of adult women reported consuming alcohol in the past month, and 12% of these reported binge drinking.
  • Around 2.5% of women who consume alcohol meet the criteria for alcohol dependence.
  • Approximately 50% of child-bearing age drink, and 18% of women in this group binge drink (defined as an average of five drinks per binge.)
  • Women who binge drink are more likely to engage in unprotected sex, therefore increasing the risk of accidental pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
  • Women who consume alcohol while pregnant increase the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome, a condition characterized by mild to severe mental and physical congenital disabilities.
  • Binge drinking substantially increases the risk of sexual assault on women, especially those residing in a college setting.

Men and Alcohol Consumption

  • Nearly 60% of adult males report drinking in the past month, and of those, 23% report binge drinking five times per month at a rate of eight drinks per binge, on average.
  • Men are twice as likely to binge drink as women and nearly twice as likely to be intoxicated while driving or be involved in a fatal traffic accident.
  • An estimated 4.5% of men met the criteria for alcohol dependence in the past year.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption by men increases aggression, thus raising the risk of committing a physical assault on another person.
  • Excessive alcohol consumption is also a common factor in sexual assault and raises a man’s risk of engaging in unprotected sex, sex with multiple partners, and contracting an STD.
  • Men are more likely than women to commit suicide while consuming alcohol.
  • Among men, alcohol consumption increases the risk mouth, throat, esophagus, liver and colon cancers.

Underage Drinking

Frequency of Underage Alcohol Use

  • Nearly one-third (33.1%) of teens of the age of 15 reports having consumed at least one alcoholic drink.
  • According to a 2015 survey by the National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), roughly 623,000 teenagers from ages 12 to 17 had an AUD.
  • Of the 623,000 teens, 298,000 were male, and 325,000 were female, representing 2.3% and 2.7% from each 12 to 17 age group, respectively.
  • Around 5.2% of teens with an AUD underwent treatment within the past year, including 5.1% of males and 5.3% of females with an AUD in each respective age group.
  • Approximately 20.3% (7.7 million) of teens and young adults ages 12 to 20 report having drunk alcohol within the past month (19.8% of males and 20.8% of females in each age group).

Frequency of Binge Drinking

According to the NSDUH (2015), an estimated 5.1 million youths (about 13.4%) aged 12–20 (13.4% of males and 13.3% of females) reported binge drinking in the past month.

Prevalence of Heavy Alcohol Use

According to the NSDUH (2015), around 1.3 million youths (about 3.3%) ages 12–20 (3.6% of males and 3% of females) reported heavy alcohol consumption in the past month.

Consequences of Drinking Alcohol Underage

Studies suggest that alcohol use during the teenage years could interfere with normal teenage brain development and increases the risk of developing alcohol use disorder later in life. Also, underage drinking contributes to a variety of short-term consequences, including injuries, sexual assaults, and even fatalities, such as those caused by car accidents.

Teen alcohol consumption kills 4,700 people each year. That’s more than all illegal drugs combined.

Alcohol and College Students

Prevalence of Alcohol Use

According to the NSDUH (2015), 58% of full-time college students aged 18–22 consumed alcohol in the past month compared with 48% of other people the same age.

Prevalence of Binge Drinking

According to the NSDUH (2015), nearly 38% of college students ages 18–22 reported binge drinking in the past month compared with 32.6% of other people the same age.

Prevalence of Heavy Alcohol Use

According to the NSDUH (2015), 12.5% of college students aged 18–22 reported heavy alcohol consumption in the past month compared with 8.5%t of other people the same age.

Consequences—Researchers estimate that each year:

More than 1,800 college students between the18 and 24 years of age die from unintentional injuries related to alcohol use including motor-vehicle crashes.

Also, 696,000 students between ages 18-24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking, and 97,000 students of the same age reported being the victim of sexual assault or date rape related to alcohol.

Around 1 in 5 (20%) of college students meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder, and about 1 in 4 report academic consequences related to drinking, such as missing class or falling behind, doing poorly on papers or exams a receiving lower grades.

Economic Burden of Drinking

Alcohol abuse cost the United States an estimated $249 billion in 2010, and around three-quarters of the total cost of alcohol was related to binge drinking. What’s more, drinking and driving cost the U.S. $199 billion each year.

Alcohol and the Body

In 2015, of the more than 78,500 deaths due to liver disease among individuals ages 12 and older, 47% involved alcohol.

Among males, nearly 49,700 liver disease deaths occurred and 49.5% involved alcohol. Among females, 28,834 liver disease fatalities occurred and 43.5% were related to alcohol.

Among liver cirrhosis deaths in 2013, nearly 48% were related to alcohol. The proportion of alcohol-related cirrhosis was greatest (76.5%) among deaths of people from ages 25–34, followed by deaths of people ages 35–44 (70%.)

In 2009, alcohol-related liver disease was the main cause of almost 1 in 3 liver transplants in the U.S.

Alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancers of the mouth, esophagus, larynx, pharynx, liver, breast, and colon, and rectum.

Alcohol-Related Fatalities

In 2014, alcohol-related driving deaths accounted for nearly 10,000 fatalities or 31% of overall driving deaths.

Alcohol poisoning kills six people each day. Of those, more than three-quarters (75%) are adults aged 35-64, and three of every four people killed by alcohol poisoning/overdose are male.

The group with the most alcohol poisoning fatalities per million people is American Indians/Alaska Natives at 49 per 1 million.

Treatment for Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a devastating and life-threatening disease, but fortunately, it can be effectively treated using a comprehensive, evidence-based approach that includes psychotherapy, counseling, and group support.

Treatment programs are available in inpatient, partial hospitalization, and outpatient formats. Regardless of program design, professional staff who specialize in addiction help patients by providing them with medical and mental health care, as well as the tools they need to achieve a long-lasting recovery.

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcoholism, please contact us as soon as possible. No one should have to do this alone – we can help!

Living with an Alcoholic

Living with an Alcoholic

If you’ve been living with an alcoholic, you are probably well-acquainted with moodiness and erratic behavior. You may have tried everything you can think of to help them quit drinking – from dumping their stash of alcohol to threatening to leave if they don’t quit. But nothing seems to work, at least not for very long.

So what options do you have living with an alcoholic? How do you remain in this relationship, despite feeling helpless, exhausted and frustrated?

First, remember that it’s not your fault – it’s not even theirs. No one is to blame for addiction – it’s the consequence of many determinants that include genetics, circumstances, and emotional health. To get any better, they’ll likely need professional help.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

According to NIAAA, alcohol use disorder (AUD) is “a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using.”

Alcohol may not cause significant harm in moderation, but many people who struggle with AUD regularly drink much more than the recommended limit of seven drinks per week for women or 14 drinks per week for men.

High-functioning alcoholics may drink in secret and do their best to hide the extent of their disorder from co-workers and friends. But it’s nearly impossible to conceal it from those who live within the same household. Because only about 1 in 10 individuals addicted to alcohol seeks help for their condition, many families are left to languish along with their loved ones.

During their lifetime, an alcoholic may incur a myriad of health problems ranging from digestive issues to high blood pressure and stroke. Alcohol abuse is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S., killing an estimated 88,000 people each year. In 2015, nearly 37,000 people died from alcoholic liver disease alone.

Drunk driving is yet another dangerous and potentially fatal consequence of heavy alcohol use. There were more than 10,000 drunk driving fatalities in 2015 to account for a death every 51 minutes throughout the year.

People suffering from an AUD typically have intense cravings when they aren’t consuming alcohol, and find it challenging to stop after they’ve started drinking. Over time, they will develop a tolerance to alcohol, a condition which requires them to consume an increasing amount in order to achieve the same results.

In addition to the aforementioned symptoms, alcoholics may:

  • Drink by themselves to conceal their addiction
  • Experience blackouts
  • Drink at scheduled times and become agitated/irritated if they can’t access alcohol
  • Store alcohol in unusual, secretive places, such as their vehicle
  • Drink solely to get drunk
  • Experience relationship, employment, financial, or legal troubles
  • Experience a loss of interest in activities once deemed important or enjoyable

How an AUD Can Damage a Relationship

While your spouse or loved one may be a kind and considerate person when sober, drinking may turn them into a completely different person. Unfortunately, emotional or physical abuse can (but not always) accompany a person’s intoxicated state. Indeed, of all the reported alcohol-related occurrences of violence, two-thirds happen among close relationships.

This fact means that partners and children who are living with an alcoholic are at heightened risk of witnessing or becoming victims of a violent crime, such as abuse or assault. If your loved one is not physically or emotionally abusive when intoxicated, they may still cause harmful in other ways, such as spending too much free time at bars, frequently missing work or school.

Become able to recognize the signs of a dangerous living situation if it occurs. If you are living in the same home as an alcoholic, ensure you and others in the house are safe and do not tolerate verbal/emotional or physical abuse. If this occurs, either you/your family or the alcoholic needs to leave the situation.

Living with an Alcoholic: Consequences for Children

Estimates show that 11 million children under age 18 have at least one parent with an AUD. While children who grow up living with an alcoholic are known to have an increased genetic risk of developing the disease themselves, many also grow up experiencing serious emotional consequences from their childhood, such as issues with intimacy and trust.

Children of alcoholics may also experience difficulties later in life such as:

  • Problems maintaining stable, close relationships
  • A desire for constant approval
  • Self-loathing and harsh self-judgment
  • Lying for no apparent reason
  • Impulsive behavior without consideration of the consequences

Taking Care of Yourself, Your Family

Remind yourself that you can’t blame yourself for your loved one’s problems and behavior. Be gentle with yourself, as you are probably hurting, and have a lot of anger and resentment as a result of years of disappointment and broken promises.

Once you ensure your family is safe when your loved one is drinking, then consider seeking support in the form of therapy, counseling, or group support. If you have children or teenagers, make sure they have someone outside the family to confide in, such as a counselor. And because their other parent isn’t able to meet their emotional needs, it’s critical that you are willing to listen without judgment.

Stop enabling and set boundaries. Enabling is a common occurrence among family members and friends of those who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. Enabling activities include giving money to the alcoholic to buy drinks, buying them for him or her, or even sitting idly by while they drink to dangerous levels.

Unconditional love is a good thing, but if you cater to their desires by purchasing alcohol or ignoring the issue, you aren’t helping anyone, and certainly not helping them get better.

Instead of enabling, firmly set boundaries and stick to them. You don’t have to be insensitive or give ultimatums, but you do have to do what’s right and let the person know that your intention is to stop enabling them out of love, not punishment.

Finally, do not allow the person suffering from addiction to blame you for the things they have done. Maybe you need to leave the house to avoid a confrontation, or maybe you have a friend on the ready to take your loved one to a safe place to “sleep it off.” Just find out what works best for everyone, and be consistent.

How to Confront an Alcoholic and Intervene

When confronting an alcoholic or staging an intervention, choose a time when they are sober (if possible) and do not threaten them. Focus on your personal feelings and concerns and express them in a tone that is compassionate and without judgment.

Initially, many alcoholics will deny their problems and resist attempts to talk about their condition, and may even try to shift the focus of the conversation to you. Be prepared for this and remain calm. Denial often precipitates recovery. Remember, right now you are planting the seeds of change, and you may have to allow time for them to take root.

When staging an intervention, it is best to have a bag packed for your loved one and an addiction treatment center in mind. This way they are less likely to back out after agreeing to go. It’s also beneficial to have a professional counselor or therapist present, as well as a few close friends who will not overwhelm or judge them.

During an intervention, be succinct in your statements and don’t lecture. Be prepared to answer questions about the treatment process. If they are not yet willing to go, don’t force them. Treatment is most effective when the person goes willingly. In time, you can always try again.

Treatment for Alcoholism

If you loved one agrees to treatment, detox is often the first step in the process. Next, clients participate in an inpatient, partial hospitalization, or intensive outpatient treatment program. All three formats include evidence-based, proven approaches to the treatment of alcoholism, such as behavioral therapy, counseling, and group support.

Our center employs professional medical and mental health staff who provide clients with the knowledge and tools they need to achieve sobriety and enjoy long-lasting wellness and recovery from alcohol or drugs. Addiction is a disease that can last a lifetime, but no one should have to suffer in silence or fight it alone. We can help!