A lot of people start consuming alcoholic drinks without having second thoughts about the possible negative effects it may cause their health. After all, alcoholic drinks are readily available and are generally accepted by society. However, the use of these products actually presents the major drug problem of several countries, particularly those in the West.
Because alcohol radically modifies the body’s functions – including and especially those of the human brain – it is considered a drug. For this reason, the use of alcohol brings about, in no uncertain terms, immediate and long-range effects on the organs of the human body.
Taking a closer look at alcohol’s immediate effects, we will be reminded that its first hostile effect is on the body’s respiratory organs which it depresses. Relieving certain body pains with the use of alcohol, therefore, poses real danger. An amount of alcohol that is just enough to make a person lose his mindful attention on his pain can impede respiration and may even result to death.
Secondarily, alcohol affects the brain waves’ rhythm which it slows up, and causes retardation of the intellectual functions. With alcohol in the body, the brain tissue expends less oxygen than is normal. In problem-solving situations and skilled activities, a person under the influence of liquor is liable to commit more errors than others.
Alcohol next targets the vessels of the skin which it dilates. After consuming alcohol, a person usually projects a flushed look. What he experiences at that moment is rather deceiving in that even while exposed to low temperatures in a cold environment he feels warm. As a consequence, that person becomes more than ordinarily unresistant to pneumonia.
Here are the immediate effects of alcohol on the other body organs:
– On the kidneys: It increases urine production.
– On the digestive organs: It increases the flow of saliva and gastric juice which may result to an inflamed lining of the stomach and may cause an excessive accumulation of blood in the lining tissue.
– On the reproductive organs: Consuming large doses may result to sexual impotence.
Now let’s have a look at the more serious long-range effects of alcohol. In long-continued consumption, the liver carries the heaviest burden. It becomes shrunken and turns into a rounded lump as it gradually loses its ability to function. This condition is known as cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis has serious complications that include the following: Ascites, or the abnormal accumulation of serous fluid in the abdomen; bleeding from the esophagus; and declining mental awareness. Once cirrhosis develops to any of these complications, death within a year becomes a possibility.
Next to the liver, the heart (particularly a faulty or enfeebled one) is affected by the long-continued use of alcohol to a great degree. Alcohol can cause serious damage to the muscle cells of the heart, ultimately resulting to deterioration. As this condition progresses, it may lead to death in about five years or even less. This particular heart-failure condition is known as alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
The nerves are the other victims of alcoholic drinks. A condition called peripheral neuritis is another serious complication of the long-continued use of alcohol. In this condition, the nerves become inflamed. This, without a doubt, causes severe distress which occurs as a consequence of inadequate nourishment – an essential characteristic of this case.
With all these debilitating and even fatal effects alcohol poses, certain groups are known to be actively promoting the benefits of absolute abstinence. On the other hand, several studies showed that consuming alcohol in moderation can actually help in preventing stroke and heart disease. These contrasting indications (advantages versus perils) are a continuing dilemma that health officials face.