Facts & Stats

Consequences of Alcohol Abuse:

  • People who begin drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who wait until age 21. Each additional year of delayed drinking onset reduces the probability of alcohol dependence by 14 percent.
  • Mental and psychiatric adverse events include anxiety, panic, sedation, euphoria, irritability, restlessness, aggressiveness, violence, depression, sleep disturbances, memory and cognitive deficits, confabulation, hallucinations, and delusions.
  • A lifetime comorbidity of alcohol and psychiatric disorders of 86% has been reported, and often there is a worsening of psychiatric diagnoses.
  • Central Nervous System effects can include headaches, cerebral atrophy, ataxia, and seizures. Skull fractures and subdural hematoma can occur. The eyes may undergo blurred vision, loss of vision, or color vision abnormalities.
  • Cardiovascular effects can include cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, arrhythmias, coronary artery disease (with heavy consumption), hypertension, edema, increased risk of stroke with heavy drinking (especially hemorrhagic), but possible reduced risk of ischemic stroke with moderate doses.
  • Respiratory effects can range from increased risk of pneumonia to asthma or acute respiratory distress.
  • Long term use – People who use alcohol regularly over several months can become physically dependent on it. Upon abruptly stopping, withdrawal will start within 4 to 12 hours. The symptoms will vary considerably from person to person. Sometimes the person will be asymptomatic. Withdrawal can last from 3 to 10 days. If severe withdrawal occurs and goes untreated, death can result.
  • Gastro-intestinal effects include gastritis, ulcers, bleeding, malabsorption of food and nutrients such as vitamins, diarrhea or constipation, and esophageal varices.
  • Liver problems include fatty liver, hepatitis, jaundice, fibrosis, cirrhosis, blood coagulopathies, hypoprotenemia, and ascites. Pancreatitis can develop.
  • Genitourinary disorders such as electrolyte imbalances, urinary tract infections, and sexual dysfunction may occur. Neurological complications include paresthesias, peripheral neuropathies, extrapyramidal symptoms and pain as well as fetal alcohol syndrome.
  • Musculoskeletal problems such as myalgias, cramps, atrophy, weakness, joint inflammation, worsening of rheumatoid arthritis, gout, bone ischemia, necrosis, and hypofunctioning marrow can arise.
  • Hematological disorders are common and include iron deficiency anemia, macrocytic anemia, leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia.
  • Dermatological adverse effects can include dermatitis, flushing, angiomas, urticaria, bruising, and sweating.
  • Endocrine complications include altered glucose tolerance, unstable diabetes, menstrual cycle irregularities, and gynecomastia.
  • The immune system has an impaired response and alcohol use has been associated with neoplasms in the upper digestive and respiratory tracts, liver, and with possible increases in breast and large bowel cancers.

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