Most people know about the damaging effects that binge drinking can bring to someone’s life. Loss of enjoyment of life, losing family relationships, financial and career struggles, homelessness and legal consequences are just the tip of the iceberg. However, it can be more difficult to realize the long-term effect of binge drinking on the body, because you cannot always see it. Frequent binge drinking poses many dangerous health risks, and many of them can lead to death.
Facts on the Long-Term Effects of Binge Drinking
- For men, binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks within about two hours, and for women it’s defined as consuming four or more drinks within about two hours
- 1 in 6 U.S. adults reported binge drinking in 2015
- Not all people who binge drink have an alcohol use disorder
- Excessive alcohol use is the fourth preventable death in the United States
- People who begin drinking before the age of 15 are five times more likely to become dependent on alcohol than those who begin drinking at or after the age of 21
Binge Drinking’s Effect on Internal Organs
Alcohol can cause a wide range of damages to the internal organs. These can include cancer, organ failure, disease, and more. Organ damage can lead to a lifetime of complications, including death.
Once alcohol has entered the bloodstream, it remains in the body until it is processed. About 90-98% of alcohol is broken down in the liver. The other 2-10% of alcohol is removed through urine, breathed out through the lungs or excreted in sweat.
However, the liver can only process so much. Binge drinking increases the risk of alcoholic fatty liver, inflammation, hepatitis, cirrhosis and more, which can all lead to liver failure and death.
Drinking alcohol causes the heart to work much harder. As such, frequent binge drinking can cause damage to the heart, such as angina, stroke, heart failure, high blood pressure, constriction of blood vessels, and other cardiovascular issues that could lead to death.
The pancreas processes alcohol by turning it into toxins that will later be released into the digestive tract. However, after excessive binge drinking, these toxins can do great damage to the ducts and enzymes in the pancreas. This can lead to chronic inflammation of the pancreas, known as pancreatitis, in people who frequently binge drink.
Once alcohol is consumed, the first thing it does is go through the digestive tract. Alcohol instantly begins to exert its toxic effects on the digestive tract, and frequent binge drinking can lead to damages. These can include:
- Internal bleeding
- Acid reflux
- Inflammation of the stomach lining
- Impaired bowel function
Binge Drinking Can Cause Long-Term Brain Damage
Alcohol alters the brain’s chemistry by interfering with its neurotransmitters. This will affect an individual’s cognitive function, emotions, moods, decisions and reactions. Alcohol is widely known to make an individual act much differently than they normally would if they were sober, and this is due to the interference of those neurotransmitters. Excessive alcohol use can lead to permanent damage in these areas.
Alcohol is a depressant on the central nervous system. Consequently, this causes:
- Blurred vision
- Memory loss
- Slurred speech
- Poor coordination
- Slow reaction time
In addition, alcohol can cause slowed brain growth in young people who consume it, which can lead to a lifetime of behavioral and emotional issues.
Binge Drinking Can Lead to Accidents and Injuries
It should not go without saying that a major long-term effect of binge drinking on the body is injury. Alcohol lowers inhibitions, causing people to act riskier than they normally would. In addition, alcohol consumption leads to poor coordination. Both of these factors can lead to injuries such as:
- Automobile accidents
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Domestic violence
- Dangerous falls
Getting Help for Binge Drinking at Cliffside Malibu
Damages caused to the body’s internal organs and brain can lead to serious life-long consequences, and the most major long-term effect of binge drinking on the body is death. The sooner an individual is able to give up alcohol, the better their chances will be of their body recovering. The body becomes more and more damaged with every sip of alcohol, so the time to get help is now.
Since no two addictions are the same, Cliffside Malibu offers an individualized treatment plan for every client. We are committed to providing evidence-based treatment through a continuum of care model including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment and outpatient services. Our program also includes family therapy and holistic therapy. Whether an individual is struggling substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are structured to create a supportive environment where healing can begin.
If you feel you or your loved one could be struggling with binge drinking, please seek our support at Cliffside Malibu today. At Cliffside Malibu, we understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation in our facility, allowing you to rejuvenate and meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.