Alcohol consumption is commonplace and for most people, it isn’t a particular issue. The occasional glass of wine at a family celebration or party is not only considered acceptable; in many ways, it is expected.
For the majority of people, alcohol doesn’t pose a problem and they can take it or leave it. Conversely, there are others who find it harder to restrict their drinking to social occasions and constantly fight a battle with their need to use alcohol. These are individuals who need to consider reaching out for treatment at an alcohol abuse rehab center sooner rather than later because the damage alcohol does to the body increases over time.
When drinking becomes a problem, an individual is likely to have become dependent on alcohol and they are at risk of spiraling into full-blown alcoholism. The fact is that drinking too much takes a serious toll on a person’s health, whether they occasionally drink to excess or “binge drink” or abuse alcohol on a daily basis.
Here’s how alcohol can affect the body’s major organs:
Brain: Alcohol interrupts the brain’s neurotransmitters which communicate with the rest of the body. The disruption caused by alcohol can significantly change a person’s behavior, making it harder for them to think clearly or perform even the simplest of manual tasks.
Heart: Drinking to excess regularly or binging on single occasions can cause serious damage to the heart including:
- Cardiomyopathy which is a condition that causes stretching of the heart muscle
- Arrhythmias or irregular heartbeat
- Dangerously high blood pressure and stroke
- Coronary heart disease
Liver: The liver takes a battering when a person abuses alcohol and heavy or binge drinking can lead to several problems including:
- A fatty liver (Steatosis)
- Alcoholic hepatitis
Pancreas: Heavy drinking leads to the pancreas producing toxins that can result in an inflammation of the organ, known as pancreatitis. This condition is characterized by intense abdominal pain as a result of swollen blood vessels preventing proper digestion.
Alcohol’s Effects on the Bones
Alcohol abuse can deplete a person’s energy and seriously damage their health. As seen above, alcohol can attack almost every bodily function. Alcohol can also cause damage to the skeleton and bones in the following ways:
- Increases production of parathyroid hormones triggered by alcohol use reduces calcium reserves in the body
- Reduces production of vitamin D which absorbs calcium in the body
- Reduces estrogen levels in women, increasing the risk of osteoporosis
- Increases cortisol levels in the body which can lead to a deterioration in the bones
Alcohol Abuse and Risk of Cancer
When someone drinks heavily, they increase their risk of developing certain cancers affecting certain parts of the body including the mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast. The risk of cancer is present because of its weakening effect on an individual’s immune system which makes the body a sitting target for the chronic and sometimes fatal disease. Consistently heavily drinkers are much more likely to contract other serious respiratory illnesses like pneumonia or tuberculosis than someone who is a moderate drinker. Ultimately, drinking too much suppresses the body’s natural immunity to disease and illness and if left untreated, the consequences can be significant.
How Alcohol Use Disorder can be Treated Holistically
When someone has made the significant choice of seeking treatment for alcohol abuse, they are likely to be offered a range of medical treatments alongside complementary or holistic therapies. This is considered the most effective approach to treating alcoholism because holistic medicine addresses the underlying causes, whereas conventional medicine only deals with symptoms.
Holistic therapies used in alcohol abuse rehab centers focus on an individual’s mental, physical and emotional health, addressing any issues related to alcohol abuse to slowly and naturally reverse the damage done. The range of holistic therapies used in alcohol abuse rehab centers generally includes the following:
- Mindfulness practices such as yoga or meditation that promote self-awareness and teach patients how to respond in healthier ways to triggers for alcohol abuse
- Massage therapy is a popular holistic treatment that uses therapeutic touch to assist in blood circulation, reducing stress and tension, and easing chronic pain
- Experiential treatments such as adventure therapy take patients out of their comfort zone to challenge themselves in new and exciting ways
- Using art or music as a medium for self-expression is a popular holistic therapy in alcohol abuse rehab centersand provides other channels of communication that are non-verbal
- Physical exercise and nutritional education is an important aspect of holistic alcohol abuse rehaband deals with any vitamin or mineral deficiencies a person may be suffering as a result of alcohol abuse while improving fitness levels for stronger immunity
Alcohol abuse is much more widespread than it appears to be, possibly because of the acceptable face of social drinking. However, our knowledge of alcoholism as an illness is much greater than ever before and now there are numerous routes to sobriety to suit people from all walks of life, ethnicities or cultures. Reaching out for treatment is the first significant step towards recovery and with the support of a personalized program; it is very possible for people to free themselves from alcohol abuse to live a happy and healthy life in sobriety.