Alcohol is a powerful drug. It acts on the body primarily as a depressant and slows down the brain’s activities. If you continue to abuse alcohol it can lead to alcohol dependence. Alcohol dependence is also called alcoholism. You are physically or mentally addicted to alcohol. You have a strong need, or a craving, to drink. Long term heavy drinking harms your liver, nervous system, heart, and brain. It can cause health problems or make them worse. These problems include: cirrhosis or pancreatitis, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, certain types of cancer, including breast cancer, stroke, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Alcohol abuse also can contribute to stomach problems, interactions between medicines, alcohol, and sexual problems. It can lead to violence, accidents, social isolation, and problems at work, school, or home. Drinking also makes symptoms of mental health problems worse. When you have a drinking problem and a mental health problem, it is called a dual diagnosis. It is very important to treat all mental health problems, such as depression.
When using alcohol the motor coordination and reflexes are impaired; balance is disturbed. Blood flow to the skin increases, causing loss of body heat, flushing and sweating. Heart rate and blood pressure increase. Liver breaks down 0.5-1 ounce of alcohol hourly. Vision is blurred, speech is impaired, and sensation and perception are diminished. Inhibitions, judgment, and intellectual functions are impaired. Alcohol flows into the stomach and small intestine; excess alcohol in the stomach causes vomiting. Urine output increases in kidneys; more urine passes from the body than is typical.
The small intestine and the stomach absorb most of the alcohol after drinking. A small amount leaves the body through breath and urine. Eating food, especially fatty foods, slows the absorption of alcohol. If people drink more alcohol than their bodies can absorb, they become a drunk. Alcohol can...
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