Alcoholism is a condition in which a person becomes addicted to alcohol consumption. In alcoholism, people depend on it completely and if at times they do not get alcohol, they begin to suffer from anxiety, depression and aggression. People involved in alcoholism do not have any control on drinking and usually consume alcohol continuously.
National council on drug and dependency defines alcoholism as "A major chronic disease characterized by impaired control over drinking, obsession with the drug alcohol, using alcohol despite of its severe ill effects and alterations in thinking".
Chronic and Acute Alcoholism
From acute to chronic, alcoholism can take any devastating form if it is not controlled at the right time. The main types of alcoholism include acute and chronic alcoholism.
Acute Alcoholism- It is a condition when the body gets intoxicated with the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages. In this, the person may be addicted recently or alcoholism may have been lasted for a short period. Acute alcoholism is temporary and results in depression of the higher nerve cells, resulting in lack of coordination, impaired motor control, stupor, dehydration and nausea. The symptoms of acute alcoholism are headache, tiredness, hangover, anxiety, and other physical signs.
Chronic Alcoholism- Chronic alcoholism is an uncontrolled situation where the person consuming alcoholic beverages becomes addicted to it, consumes alcohol in excessive amounts and usually lasts for longer periods. This condition is very severe and at this stage the person becomes habitual and willingly also is not able to control his craving for the alcohol. Chronic alcoholism is characterized with psychological, social, cultural, physiological factors, and frequently impairs the person's health and social life.
Symptoms of chronic alcoholism include diarrhea, hallucinations, anorexia, weight loss, neurological and psychiatric disturbances, fatty worsening of the liver and other related problems. Treatment of chronic alcoholism depends on the severity of the condition, the symptoms and other personal and medical history.
What Causes Alcoholism?
Although the exact cause of alcoholism is not clear, several contributing factors that give rise to alcoholism have been identified. A person's family, genetic predisposition, business worries, society, mental and health factors are the major contributors for developing this pathological disease. A person who may not be able to handle certain stressful situations or who have lack of control can easily fall a prey to alcoholism. Alcoholism has several harmful effects on the person's mind and body, which may need medical assistance.
Effects of Chronic and Acute Alcoholism on Body Systems
Drinking alcohol within prescribed limits is normal but getting addicted to it can be dangerous for a person's health and life. When people consume alcohol it enters the blood stream and reaches every organ and spreads throughout the body in all the parts. Alcoholism has the potential to affect various body systems including digestive system, central nervous system, circulatory system and endocrine system. Some of the effects of chronic and acute alcoholism on body systems include
- Effects of Chronic and Acute Alcoholism on Digestive System- Mouth, stomach, small intestine, esophagus, large intestine, rectum and anus are the parts of human digestive system. All these parts play an important role in the body functioning. When one drinks alcohol, around 20% of the alcohol gets stored in the stomach and around 80% gets absorbed in the small intestine. Once it is absorbed by these parts it disturbs the normal functioning of the digestive system where all the food, glucose and other materials are digested. Fatty degeneration of the liver further affects digestion and chronic alcoholism can eventually lead to liver damage. Chronic alcoholism also increases the risk of stomach upsets, ulcers and pancreatitis.
- Effects of Alcohol on Central Nervous System- This is the most important system of our body as it includes brain and the spinal cord, which is important for effective management of the other body functions. Excessive alcohol consumption disturbs brain functioning and the messages that the body parts receive slow down leading to slowing down of normal activities. The signals sent to and received from the brain can get affected, resulting in various neurological complaints. Chronic and acute alcoholism increases the risk of nerve damage and memory loss or dementia.
- The Circulatory System- This system includes heart, arteries, veins, capillaries and blood. Heart pumps blood throughout the body and alcohol consumption disturbs the working of the heart. Chronic alcoholism can affect the functioning of the heart, the blood pumped to body parts and also affect the oxygen supply to the body. Chronic alcoholism can affect the circulatory system, increase the risk of anemia and lead to complaints like fatigue, breathlessness and lightheadedness. It can also increase the risk of high blood pressure, formation of blood clots, heart diseases, stroke and can also affect the heart muscles, causing irregular heart rhythm.
- Endocrine system- This system, signals the beginning of puberty, regulates growth, regulates tissue function and moods by sending hormones from glands to the brain. Alcohol consumption disturbs hormones of the body, impairs the function of the glands and signaling of messages to the brain. Chronic and acute alcoholism also increases the risk of diabetes and other hormonal disorders.
Along with various effects of alcohol on body systems, the immunity can get affected making alcoholics more prone to infections. It can also increase the risk of seizures and certain types of cancers.
Chronic and acute alcoholism is indeed a very dangerous addiction, which not only affects body systems, but can also ruin the life of addicted people and their families. It is always better to consume alcohol within limits before it becomes dangerous to human body.