Alcohol is one of the most widely abused substances today. It is a nervous system depressant that can quickly be absorbed from the small intestine into the bloodstream. Alcohol impacts the body in many different ways and long-term abuse can have devastating mental and physical effects. It is also an addictive substance, which means users can build up a tolerance over time and if they try to stop drinking, they may experience withdrawal symptoms.
Alcohol use often begins in the teen years or even younger. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly one-fourth of all eighth graders and 64 percent of all 12th graders used alcohol within the past year. Problems with alcohol are most prevalent in young adults between the ages of 18 and 29.
Alcohol’s Effect on the Body
In the short-term, alcohol can cause slurred speech, impaired motor function and delayed reflexes. Intoxication can also result in nausea, vomiting and blacking out. Over the long-term, alcohol affects the body in a number of ways:
- Liver diseases (alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis or a “fatty” liver)
- Heart problems (arrhythmias, hypertension, stroke)
- Brain impairment (cloudy thinking, mood and behavior changes)
- Pancreatic diseases (pancreatitis)
Alcohol abuse can also increase risk for some types of cancer, including cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, breast and liver.
Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction
There are many different signs that might indicate someone is abusing alcohol:
- Drinking to ward off stress
- Neglecting home or work responsibilities because of drinking
- Using alcohol in possibly dangerous situations, such as while driving
- Continued use of alcohol even when it begins to cause personal and professional problems
If left unchecked, alcohol abuse can become alcohol addiction. Some of the warning signs of addiction can include:
- Inability to control alcohol consumption
- Developed tolerance so more alcohol is needed to have same effect
- Drinking alone or hiding drinking from others
- Neglecting other responsibilities and activities
- More time spent on consuming alcohol and recovering from its effects
- Legal, professional or personal difficulties as a result of alcohol consumption
- Continued use, despite the problems alcohol consumption is causing
Long-term abuse of alcohol can lead to withdrawal symptoms if consumption is stopped. Those symptoms might include:
- Uncontrollable shaking or tremors
- Excessive anxiety or agitation
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Depression or irritability
- Nausea or vomiting
- Headaches or hallucinations
Alcohol dependence is a serious problem that requires professional treatment to overcome. At Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers, we offer a variety of treatment options to help teens survive withdrawal and move to recovery and a life of sobriety. In addition, our adjunct services ensure our patients can successfully adapt to life beyond treatment for a successful recovery and a higher quality of life. To learn more about our treatment programs for alcohol dependency, contact Vision Adolescent Treatment Centers at 866-889-3665.