Health impacts of long term alcohol misuse
Long term abuse of alcohol creates medical risks to individuals and may contribute to many cases of illness and premature death known as the ‘long term hangover’. On death certificates ‘alcohol-related’ is often not stated. See also withdrawal symptoms of alcohol detox.
Long term health impacts of alcohol misuse
- Liver disorders:
- cirrhosis of the liver,
- cancer of the liver (most alcohol specific fatalities recorded result from chronic liver disease and cirrhosis i)
- Gastrointestinal problems:
- cancer of the oesophagus;
- digestive problems;
- Nerve and muscle damage:
- burning sensations in hands/feet;
- Circulatory problems:
- high blood pressure (hypertension),
- the voice box [larynx]),
- the throat (treble the risk) and
- the gullet (double the risk) as well as
- the oesophagus, and
- breast cancer.
- In total, around 3% of cancers are attributable to alcohol.
- Reproductive problems:
- impotence and infertility (in men);
- disruption of menstrual cycle (in women)
- weight loss through under-eating;
- disrupted metabolism
- Respiratory problems:
- fractured ribs,
- low blood sugar
- Mental health:
- suicide (30% alcohol-linked);
- psychiatric disorders (30% of alcohol- dependents)
Alcohol is Associated with other Medical Issues
Whilst heavy drinkers have been found to visit their GPs twice as often as light drinkers consumption of alcohol with medications can produce adverse side effects and can diminish or exaggerate a drug’s effects.
Mental health can be affected by alcohol, and individuals with mental health problems may be more vulnerable to alcohol abuse.
Those who are depressed or suffering from anxiety are more likely to drink, and alcohol is likely to exacerbate feelings of depression.
A study of psychiatric patients found that 19% of male heavy drinkers and 30% of female heavy drinkers had a neurotic disorder.
Suicide is also strongly linked to alcohol, with around 65% of suicide attempts being associated with excessive alcohol consumption.