The most prominent medical consequence of alcoholism is liver-damage culminating in cirrhosis. “ Long-term heavy alcohol use is the leading cause of illness and death from liver disease in the US. ” ( NIAAA, 24) Increased alcohol use results in susceptibility to bacterial and viral infections leading to impairment of the immune system (NIAAA, 2000). It is also one of the leading causes of cancer of the alimentary canal, pancreas, and blood. Chronic use of alcohol affects the central nervous system, cerebellar damage, cancer, strokes, cardiac arrest, hepatitis, gastrointestinal (GI) complications, and hypertension. (AMSP, Slide 8).
“ Between 25-35% of children born to chronic alcoholic women have fetal alcohol syndrome. ” (WHO). The syndrome is marked by facial incongruities, mental retardation, poor growth and coordinating abilities. Alcoholism also leads to sexual dysfunction in both males and females. (AMSP). Besides heavy drinking causes thiamine deficiency, increase in Red Blood Cells or Decreased White Blood cells leading to hematological complications. Alcoholism attacks the motor, cognitive, and behavioral functions of the nervous system thus impairing gait, sleeping patterns making the victim depressed and lethargic. Long-term neuropsychiatric disorders created by alcohol abuse are deficits in abstracting ability, judgment, social behavior, perception and memory (WHO).
“ A more severe and manifest form of these intellectual deficits is called alcoholic dementia in which all meaningful, intellectual and social functioning is lost. ” (WHO, 7) Amongst other causes are black-outs (memory-loss), difficulty in walking and paralysis of the eye. The victim starts avoiding people, stays away from work and develops recluse like behavior. WHO has categorizes the effects of alcohol on the body and brain in terms of increased alcohol intake as 1. affecting judgment time.
2. making the body more sluggish 3. suppressing body functions leading to death. It has been observed that alcohol induces mood disorders, depressive symptoms, pessimistic thoughts, and the victim becomes suicidal (WHO).
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