Alcohol abuse could result in liver and heart problems

Alcohol abuse can result in heart and liver disease. (Image courtesy of Flickr user Santy Gimeno.)

Millions of Americans suffer from alcohol abuse.

Alcoholism is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect, or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking, according to the Mayo Clinic.

There are many different symptoms for when someone’s drinking habits become out of control. One of the first signs is not being able to limit how much you drink. Also, if you try to limit how much you drink and have a hard time with it, you may have a problem.

People who suffer from alcoholism might withdraw from hobbies and social interactions to drink. They might also experience withdrawal symptoms if they go without drinking for a longer period than they are used to.

There are many different reasons why someone might develop an addiction to alcohol. Someone could come from a family which is more susceptible to substance abuse. Someone also could go through a hard time, turn to alcohol for support and soon lose control.

Someone who suffers with alcohol abuse might develop liver disease.  Heavy drinking can cause “increased fat in the liver, inflammation of the liver, and over time, irreversible destruction and scarring of liver tissue,” said the Mayo Clinic website.

Individuals affected by alcoholism also could develop heart problems. Excessive drinking “can lead to high blood pressure and increases your risk of an enlarged heart, heart failure or stroke. Even a single binge can cause a serious heart arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation,” said the Mayo Clinic website.

Someone can seek treatment to deal with addiction.  Treatment may begin with a program of detoxification or detox. This means they will withdraw from alcohol and be watched by medical professionals. It usually takes two to seven days to withdraw. One might have to take medications to prevent withdrawal symptoms. Detox is usually done at an inpatient treatment center or a hospital.

Counseling and therapy is another way to treat the addiction. It helps people understand their problem from a psychological perspective.

“People can do it on their own,” mental health professional Jennifer Brown said. “People need help.”

 

Editor’s note: Jennifer Brown is a therapist and the sister of Sampan health editor Sara Brown.

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About Sara Brown

Sara Brown is the Sampan health editor.
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