Alcohol consumption has not lessened during the COVID pandemic. If anything, it seems to be increasing. Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) reports that as of November 2020, year-to-date alcohol sales in grocery stores were up 21% - the highest market share in five years. Even with bar and restaurant closures, people are purchasing larger quantities of alcohol to drink at home.
Addiction is a serious disease, and many people struggle with it. There is no shame in asking for help, and it’s very important to treat the whole body during the recovery process. If you are struggling with alcohol addiction, it’s a good idea to be aware of other health challenges that may result from consuming too much alcohol.
Effects of Alcohol on the Body
Most people know the immediate effects of alcohol. It impairs your judgment, makes you relaxed, even sleepy, and many say it makes them far less inhibited. But there are other health issues that can pop up after frequent or long-term alcohol use. Long-term abuse can also weaken your immune system, which leaves you susceptible to many other disorders.
The typical effects of alcohol abuse include:
- Changes to mood and behavior — drinking too much can interfere with your brain activity, causing changes to the way your brain looks and works. This may cause changes to your mood and behavior, and can result in loss of coordination and reasoning over time.
- Heart damage — your heart can get damaged if you drink a lot over many years or if you overindulge on a single occasion. The damage is serious and includes cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart muscle droops and stretches. It can also cause a stroke, high blood pressure, and irregular heartbeat, all of which come with their own set of additional complications and manifest differently in everyone.
- Pancreatitis — drinking alcohol has an impact on your pancreas. It can lead your pancreas to produce toxic substances that cause pancreatitis. Symptoms of pancreatitis cause inflammation and swelling of blood vessels, which interferes with digestion.
- Liver damage — this is one of the most commonly known effects of alcohol abuse. Heavy drinking seriously damages your liver, and can cause hepatitis, cirrhosis, fibrosis, or fatty liver. These problems are serious and can lead to very serious illness - sufferers may even need a liver transplant.
- Cancer — alcohol abuse has been linked to various cancers including breast cancer, head and neck cancers, liver cancer and more.
- Diabetes — for diabetics, drinking can cause serious issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, vision problems, and nerve damage. Since alcohol is often full of carbs and sugar, it’s also risky for diabetics because it can throw blood sugar out of whack. Drinking can also lessen the impact of diabetes medication, and makes the impact of the disease far more severe. While diabetics can have alcohol in small amounts, anyone with the disease who is struggling with addiction to alcohol should seek treatment immediately. Alcohol can increase the severity of the disease and lead to serious health issues.
How Can I Avoid Alcohol-Related Health Issues?
Everyone is different, and some people may drink to excess without experiencing health issues. But it’s important to be aware of what you drink and how much, and the potential side effects. If you’re concerned about the current impact of your drinking, it is recommend you:
- Get a physical — Check with your doctor to see if there are any potential issues. Be up-front so they can accurately check everything they need to.
- Cut back on drinking — it can be difficult to cut back on drinking, especially if it’s an established part of your lifestyle. Try slowly cutting back over time if going cold turkey is not appealing to you.
- Share with friends and family — Make sure everyone in your support network knows about your goals. Anyone who is truly on your side will support you in lessening the amount of alcohol you drink.
- Take care of your mental health — if you or someone in your circle is struggling, explore mental health and sobriety resources in your area. Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous help addicts, and Al-Anon offers support for friends and family members of those struggling with addiction. Both programs are free.
Intoxalock Ignition Interlock Devices Can Help
If you are re-examining your drinking after a DUI, you may be considering installing an ignition interlock device. The portable breathalyzer can be used to prevent you from driving drunk or in the home to test your blood alcohol content if you are watching your intake. You can contact a state specialist at any time if you have questions about how IIDs work. Call (833) 623-0200 to speak with someone, specialists are available 24/7.