Alcohol has both short- and long-term effects on the body. In fact, changes begin to occur the moment you take your first sip. And, if you drink regularly and heavily, you may be putting your overall health at risk. Here, we’ll explore exactly what alcohol does to your body.
If you need a safe space to stay sober, our sober living environment at The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation may be right for you. Contact us and learn how we can help.
What’s Happening When You Drink Alcohol
When you consume alcohol, your body begins absorbing and transporting it throughout your bloodstream, which sets off a variety of other changes:
- The flow of gastric acid in your stomach increases, which makes you feel hungry.
- Your blood vessels expand, which lowers your blood pressure, creates a feeling of warmth, and causes your skin to flush.
- Areas of the brain that control coordination, memory, speech, and more become dulled.
- Urine production is increased, causing you to urinate more frequently.
- Your liver begins to oxidize the alcohol so it can be removed from the body. Also, every time you drink, it causes cells from your liver to die.
- Dopamine and serotonin are released in the brain
Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body
Long-term use of alcohol can result in some serious effects on the body— especially if you drink regularly and heavily. Some of these effects include:
- Chronic liver damage, inflammation, and/or disease
- Increased risk for developing heart disease
- Increased risk for developing cancer
- Increased risk for developing chronic pancreatitis
- Increased risk for developing osteoporosis (thinning bones)
- Shrinking of the frontal lobe
- Intestinal damage that leads to frequent diarrhea and stomach pain
- Alcohol prevents your body from absorbing essential nutrients and vitamins, which can lead to malnutrition
- Weakened immune system
These are some of the main side effects of long-term alcohol use, but there are many more that also negatively impact the body.
What Happens to the Body When You’re Addicted to Alcohol
Alcoholism causes serious physical and chemical changes to the brain. When you drink alcohol, dopamine and serotonin neurotransmitters are released, causing feelings of pleasure. However, when you drink regularly and heavily, your brain requires more and more alcohol to obtain the pleasurable feeling from the dopamine and serotonin.
Eventually, the brain will become dependent on alcohol to obtain dopamine and serotonin releases at all, even when you’re not drinking, making you feel low and distraught. This dependence is also what causes cravings and withdrawal when you haven’t had a drink for a substantial period of time. At this level of addiction, it makes it very difficult to control your drinking habits whatsoever.
Consider The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation
We hope you better understand what alcohol does to your body. If you feel that you need assistance pursuing your sobriety, The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation is here for you. A sober living environment will allow you to recover in a supportive, understanding community. To learn more, contact us to discover how we can provide the help you need.