Alcohol addiction is a disease that affects the brain, liver, heart, and other vital functions of the body.

Dependence on alcohol is defined as a disease by the American Medical Association and other leading medical authorities, because there are identifiable symptoms and characteristics that follow a particular progression over time. Statistical studies show that over 10% of the adult world population has struggled with alcohol addiction at one time during their life.

The brain suffers from many long-term effects caused by alcohol addiction according to many studies and drug rehab centres. Years of heavy consumption of alcohol can cause permanent damage to memory function, behaviour, coordination, problem solving and judgment. Prolonged use actually destroys brain cells and changes the way the brain functions. If the alcohol addiction is severe enough, the damage cannot be reversed by stopping use. 

In fact, an individual with a severe alcohol addiction could be in serious physical danger if consumption is stopped suddenly. The body becomes dependant on alcohol, and at some point actually needs it to survive. Individuals suffering with alcohol addiction and physical dependence require medical care to safely detoxify the drug from their system. Withdrawal symptoms can be severe, and even deadly. 

Alcohol addiction can cause three types of liver disease. Excessive consumption can lead to alcohol hepatitis, cirrhosis or fatty liver disease. Only one of the three is 100 percent reversible – fatty liver disease can be cured through abstinence. Alcohol hepatitis causes areas of the liver to die. These dead areas are riddled with scar tissue. The progression of this alcohol addiction related disease leads to cirrhosis. Over time, cirrhosis can result in complete liver failure and death. 

The heart is also affected by alcohol addiction. Disruptions of the rhythm and heart rate are caused by excessive use of alcohol. If other heart related diseases are already present, such as high blood pressure or hardening of the arteries, alcohol addiction increases the risk of heart attack or stroke. 

Alcohol Addiction: Long-Term Effects

Another serious long-term effect of alcohol addiction is pancreatitis. The pancreas becomes inflamed, and its ability to produce the proper amounts of digestion enzymes and insulin is inhibited. Over time, this condition can become chronic, causing uncountable health problems. The inability to eat without gagging or feeling ill is a symptom that may indicate an inflamed pancreas due to alcohol addiction. 

Increased susceptibility of lung infections and other respiratory problems are associated with alcohol addiction. Chronic ingestion of alcohol progresses to decreased lung function and weakness. Potentially, alcohol addiction can affect most every part of the human body and its functioning. 

The effect of alcohol on an individual’s body is unrelenting, and will systematically change everything about the individual, even how he looks. The visibly noticeable signs of alcohol addiction are unmistakable. These can include premature aging of the face, change in skin tone and colour, yellowing of the whites of the eyes, psoriasis or rosaceous, thinning hair and rotting or loss of the teeth, among others. Individuals who have had an alcohol addiction for many years exhibit yellow finger and toenails, brittle and discoloured hair, and extreme weight loss or gain. 

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Many of the effects of alcohol addiction can be avoided, or reversed, if the individual seeks help from alcohol treatment centres such as Hope Trust in India early-on in his or her addiction. Though there is no permanent cure for the disease, per se, it can be managed and held in remission. Even those who suffer irreversible damage to the brain or liver can go on to live highly-functioning lives with the proper treatment and support system. 

Alcohol addiction does not have to be a death sentence. There are thousands of recovery facilities across the country dedicated to helping individuals win the battle over the life-destroying disease. Many of these facilities provide intensive medical and psychological care for little or no cost to the patient. State-funded alcohol addiction recovery centres offer assistance no matter what level of income or circumstance of the individual. Long or short-term treatments, and medication therapies, enable individuals to lead healthy, sober lives. Support systems, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or rehab centres like Hope Trust, are out there to empower individuals to stay free from the grip of alcohol addiction.

Addiction - A multi-faceted disease