Alcoholism is responsible for around 88,000 people dying each year in the United States. Additionally, the National Institute on Health reported that 14.5 million people over the age of 12 had an Alcohol Use Disorder in 2019. At Emerge Healing Center we’re dedicated to helping individuals with Alcoholism through effective and compassionate treatment.
Mental Effects of Alcoholism
Alcoholism is defined as a chronic, progressive, potentially fatal disorder marked by excessive and usually compulsive drinking of alcohol leading to psychological and physical dependence or addiction. This definition is essential when understanding the effect alcoholism has on the brain. It’s not simply a choice to drink or not to drink for the alcoholic – it is a physical dependence on the brain.
Society has unfortunately taught many people that Alcoholism is a choice. They don’t understand why a person can’t or won’t “just stop” drinking, especially when it is causing harm to themselves and others. Essentially an alcoholic is physiologically dependent on alcohol – if they were to “just stop,” they would experience severe physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
Regarding the brain, alcohol has varying effects depending on the individual. In the short term, it influences the brain’s communication and information-processing pathways. This can lead to confusion, slow or impaired decision-making, declined motor coordination, and more. Long-term effects are more serious – heart problems, liver failure, weakened immune systems, and likely other mental health problems are just the beginning. Additionally, studies have shown that excessive alcohol consumption can shrink the hippocampus, a region of the brain in the temporal lobe that plays a major role in memory and learning.
Physical Effects of Alcoholism
In addition to the mental effects of Alcoholism, there are countless common physical symptoms. Additionally, alcohol causes more complex effects on different parts of the body.
Common physical symptoms of alcoholism can include:
- Muscle spasms
- Weight gain
- Unhealthy skin
- Mood swings
- Appetite changes
- Vision changes
More severe cases of Alcoholism can affect systems of the body like the heart, the lungs, the gastrointestinal tract, and the reproductive systems.
Alcohol does a few note-worthy things regarding the heart. It causes blood vessels to relax, allowing more blood to reach the skin (faces flushing when drinking), lowers blood pressure making the heart work harder to circulate blood, and increases the heart rate causing an increased risk of stroke. Additionally, overconsumption of alcohol can lead to damaged blood vessels and other organs by toxic byproducts being filtered.
As the heart rate increases, the body needs more oxygen to function, causing an Alcoholic’s breathing rate to increase. Alcohol also makes the lungs more susceptible to infection by changing their actual structure – and overall reduces lung efficiency. In severe cases, lung disease is present in individuals with AUD.
As alcohol metabolizes through the body it turns into acetaldehyde, a toxic carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). As if that’s not enough danger, stomach ulcers and esophageal issues are more likely with AUD as the alcohol interacts with the protective materials of the stomach. In addition, it stops the normal absorption of fats, proteins, and vitamins in the body and prioritizes alcohol metabolism over food metabolism.
Fertility issues are also common with AUD. While drinking when pregnant is a known danger, alcohol consumption can also affect the quality of sperm in men and hormones needed for conception in women.
While there are over 14,000 treatment centers in the United States, and an estimated 15 million people struggle with AUD in the US, less than 10% receive treatment. Below are some sobering facts on Alcoholism: Despite the prevalence and impact of alcoholism, only a fraction of those with AUD seek treatment. Barriers to seeking help may include stigma, denial, and lack of access to appropriate resources.
The following alcoholism statistics provide insights into the prevalence, impact, and consequences of excessive alcohol consumption:
- Prevalence of Alcoholism:
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 3.3 million deaths each year (or 5.9% of all global deaths) are attributed to alcohol consumption.
- In the United States, an estimated 14.4 million adults (age 18 and older) had alcohol use disorder in 2019, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH).
- Globally, around 237 million men and 46 million women suffer from alcohol use disorders.
2. Alcohol Consumption Patterns:
- Europe has the highest alcohol consumption per capita, with the average adult consuming around 9.8 liters of pure alcohol annually.
- In the United States, around 55.3% of adults reported consuming alcohol in the past month, and 25.8% engaged in binge drinking (consuming five or more drinks on a single occasion for men and four or more drinks for women) within the past month, according to the NSDUH 2019 report.
3. Alcohol and Mortality:
- Alcohol is a significant risk factor for many diseases and injuries, including liver cirrhosis, various cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and accidents.
- It is estimated that alcohol-related conditions account for approximately 5.1% of the global burden of disease and injury.
4. Social and Economic Impact:
- Alcoholism and excessive alcohol consumption lead to significant social and economic burdens. These include reduced work productivity, increased healthcare costs, and an increased burden on law enforcement and emergency services.
- The economic cost of alcohol use disorders in the United States was estimated to be around $249 billion in 2010.
5. Alcohol and Mental Health:
- Alcohol use disorder is often associated with mental health issues. Individuals with alcoholism are at a higher risk of developing depression, anxiety disorders, and other psychiatric conditions.
- Dual diagnosis, which refers to the presence of both substance use disorder and mental health disorders, is prevalent among those struggling with alcoholism.
6. Alcoholism and Youth:
- Alcohol consumption among youth is a significant concern. According to the WHO, about 11% of drinkers aged 15 to 19 engage in heavy episodic drinking.
- Early initiation of alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing alcohol use disorders later in life.
Treatment and Recovery
Understanding these alcoholism statistics is crucial in raising awareness, advocating for prevention and early intervention efforts, and developing effective strategies to address alcohol-related issues on a global scale. Supportive communities, education, and accessible treatment resources play pivotal roles in combating alcoholism and its consequences.
If you relate to any of the above, it may be time to seek treatment. Reaching out for help can be the hardest part for many with an AUD but the good news is that you’re not alone.
Choosing the Best IOP in Alpharetta, GA
Choosing a treatment facility for your alcohol addiction is the first step on what may be a long road to total recovery. With the help of Emerge Healing Center, you will get the help you need with effective, scientifically-backed treatment options. Contact us today to learn more about our programs and how we can help you take back control of your life.