The severity of alcohol withdrawal symptoms after prolonged abuse can have severe health effects, but with medical stabilization from Westside Regional Medical Center individuals can address acute withdrawal symptoms in a hospital setting and begin the road to recovery. This brief overview provides a look at the short and long-term health effects of alcohol abuse.
The liver is responsible for filtering out harmful substances from the bloodstream, and prolonged and excessive alcohol abuse can damage or destroy liver cells. The most common forms of alcohol-related liver disease are fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis. Up to 35% of heavy drinkers develop alcoholic hepatitis, and between 10 and 20% develop cirrhosis.
Decreased liver function can allow certain substances such as ammonia and manganese to build up and damage the nervous system—a serious and potentially fatal condition known as hepatic encephalopathy. Hepatic encephalopathy may be acute and reversible or chronic. Up to 80% of alcoholics develop a deficiency in thiamine (vitamin B1) and may go on to develop serious brain disorders such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?
Moderate alcohol consumption is defined by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans as having 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men; binge drinking is classified as drinking five or more drinks in less than 2 hours for men, and four or more drinks for women. Many people have the misconception that drinking beer or wine is “safer” than liquor, but a 12-ounce glass of beer has the same total alcohol content as a 5-ounce glass of wine or a 1.5-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor.
Westside Regional Medical Center is committed to providing a superior standard of medical care throughout Broward County. To learn more about our professional detox and rehabilitation facilities, visit us online or call (954) 473-6600 today.