Side Effects of Alcoholism
Alcoholism side effects are pervasive as well as destructive.
Indeed, chronic alcoholism is truly a devastating, damaging, and debilitating disease that affects the
alcoholic; the alcoholic's social network, namely his family members, friends, work associates, other relatives,
and neighbors; and the unsuspecting "strangers" who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when the
alcoholic causes a traffic injury or fatality.
In a word, there is simply nothing about alcoholism side effects that can be called positive.
Side Effects of Alcoholism and Lowering A Person's Inhibitions
Alcohol has a biphasic effect on the body. This means that its effects change over time. At first, alcohol
usually produces feelings of merriment and relaxation.
Increased consumption, however, can lead to coordination problems, blurred vision, dehydration, and a variety of
social, medical, interpersonal, and health problems.
Excessive alcohol consumption can also result is intoxication, also known as drunkenness.
One of the side effects of intoxication is the lowering of a person's inhibitions.
Consequently, when people are intoxicated they often do things they normally would not do while sober, often
ignoring social, moral, legal, and ethical or religious norms.
This is a brief overview of the side effects of alcoholism.
What remains to be discussed, however, is a more detailed analysis of how alcoholism affects an individual's
life and the lives of those around him or her.
Perhaps the most logical way to discuss this complex subject is to focus first on the classic alcoholic
behaviors and side effects of alcoholism in the four states of alcoholism.
Then we can examine some of the key social side effects of alcoholism.
And finally, we can discuss the disease, health problems, and medical conditions that are the side effects of
alcoholism on the alcoholic.
Side Effects of Alcoholism: The First Stage
In the first stage of alcoholism, drinking is no longer social but becomes a means of emotional escape from
inhibitions, stress, tension, and problems.
Simply put, early in the disease the person starts to depend on the "mood altering" capabilities of alcohol.
Another one of the characteristic alcoholism side effects in the first stage of alcoholism is the gradual
development of "tolerance."
This means that increasing amounts of alcohol are required in order for the person to feel a "buzz" or to get
The following represents some of the classic alcoholic behaviors and alcoholism "side effects" in the first
stage of alcoholism:
- An ability to drink great amounts of alcohol without any apparent impairment
- Increasing tolerance Drinking is not social but a psychological escape from stress and problems
- Boasting and a "big shot" complex
- A conscious effort to seek out more drinking opportunities
- Gross Drinking Behavior - more frequent drinking of greater amounts
- Lack of recognition by the person that he or she is in the early stages of a progressive illness
- The use of alcohol as a way to forget problems or to "mellow out"
Alcoholism Side Effects: The Second Stage
In the second stage of alcoholism, the need to drink becomes more powerful.
In this stage, the person usually starts to drink earlier in the day.
As tolerance increases, furthermore, the individual drinks because of his or her dependence on alcohol, rather
than because of emotional stress or tension relief.
Also during this stage, the "loss of control" does not yet reveal itself on a regular basis; it is, nonetheless,
gradually observed by others such as friends, family members or work associates.
The following list describes some of the classic alcoholic behaviors and side effects of alcoholism in the
second stage of alcoholism:
- Unsuccessful attempts to stop drinking
- Sneaking extra drinks before social events
- Increasing physical problems
- Blaming problems on others and on things external to themselves
- Feelings of guilt and shame
- Sporadic loss of control
- Chronic hangovers
- Increasing tolerance
- More frequent blackouts
- Drinking because of dependence rather than for stress relief
Side Effects of Alcoholism: The Third Stage
In the third stage of alcoholism one of the side effects of alcoholism is that the loss of control becomes more
noticeable, meaning that the person is unable to drink according to his or her intentions.
For example, once the person has had the first drink, he or she can no longer control what will happen, even
though the intention might have been to have only two or three drinks.
During this stage of the disease, the individual usually starts to experience serious relationship, financial,
work-related, and perhaps legal problems.
Moreover, the drinker starts to avoid family and friends and experiences a loss of interest in activities that
used to be important or fun. "Eye-openers" are also normal during this stage.
More specifically, eye-openers are drinks that are taken whenever the individual awakens.
The person does this mainly to calm the nerves, help quiet the feelings of his or her remorse after experiencing
a period of time without a drink, or to lessen the side effects of a hangover.
The following characterizes some of the classic alcoholic behaviors and side effects of alcoholism in the third
stage of alcoholism:
- An increase in failed promises and resolutions to one's self and to others
- Aggressive and grandiose behavior
- Increasing tremors
- Problems with the law (such as DUIs)
- Serious financial, relationship, and work-related problems
- Loss of interest in activities that used to be important
- Loss of control has become a pattern
- Frequent violent or destructive behavior
- A decrease in alcohol tolerance
- Changes in friendships, such as associating only with friends who drink
- The development of an alibi system - an elaborate system of excuses for their drinking
- Neglect of necessities such as food
- A decrease in alcohol tolerance
- Loss of willpower
- The start of physical deterioration
- Avoidance of family and friends
- Unreasonable resentments
- Half-hearted attempts at seeking medical help
Alcoholism Side Effects: The Fourth Stage
The side effects of alcoholism in the fourth and final stage of alcoholism are characterized by a chronic loss
In the earlier stages of the disease, the alcoholic may have been able to maintain a job.
Now, however, drinking starts earlier in the day and typically continues throughout the long.
Needless to say, few, if any, full-time jobs can be maintained once an individual reaches this state of
Moreover, in the earlier stages of the disease the person had a choice whether he or she would take the first
After taking the first drink, however, the individual usually lost all control and would then continue
In the last stage of alcoholism, regrettably, the alcoholic no longer has a choice: he or she must drink in
order to function.
The following list represents some of the classic alcoholic behaviors and side effects of alcoholism in the
fourth stage of alcoholism:
- Unreasonable resentments and hostility toward others
- The collapse of the alibi system
- "The shakes"
- The realization of being out of control
- Indefinable fears
- The possibility of alcoholic psychosis
- Devaluation of personal relationships
- Impaired thinking
- Persistent remorse
- Auditory and visual hallucinations
- Nameless fears and anxieties such as feelings of impending doom or destruction
- Continual loss of control
- Benders, or lengthy intoxications
- The "DTs"
- Moral deterioration
- An obsession with drinking
- Loss of tolerance for alcohol
- Vague spiritual desires
Side Effects of Alcoholism and Social Relationships
Alcoholism also leads to a number of social relationship issues.
The following list represents some of these issues.
- Destroyed relationships
- Child abuse
- Birth defects such as fetal alcohol syndrome
- Codependent behavior in others Wife battering
- Work-related injuries and accidents
- Broken, dysfunctional homes
- Destroyed lives
- Traffic fatalities or injuries on the highway
Side Effects of Alcoholism: Medical Conditions
Alcoholism also causes a number of health problems, medical conditions and diseases.
We will focus first on the different types of cancer caused by alcoholism and then on the non-cancerous illness
and ailments that are the results of this disease.
Side Effects of Alcoholism: Cancer
The following is a list of different types of cancer that are direct or indirect side effects of alcoholism:
Side Effects of Alcoholism: Non-Cancerous Medical Conditions
The following is a list non-cancerous medical conditions, health problems, and diseases that are indirect or
direct side effects of alcoholism:
- Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach)
- Alcohol Poisoning
- Vitamin deficiencies (such as folate, selenium, riboflavin, thiamin, and vitamin B6)
- Problems with the immune system
- Sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction and impotence in men
- Impaired learning ability
- Wernicke's disease (a memory disorder)
- Numbness of the feet and hands
- Vitamin A deficiency (which can cause night blindness)
- Memory loss
- Nervous system damage
- Kidney failure
- Vitamin D deficiency (which can result in bone fractures)
- Inflammation of the digestive system
- Death (from alcohol poisoning, excessive intoxication, and organ malfunction)
- Loss of intellectual abilities
- Kidney and urinary tract infections
- Korsakoff's syndrome (a memory disorder)
- Mental confusion
- Severe thiamine deficiency
- Alcohol withdrawal symptoms when the alcoholic stops drinking
- Destruction of brain cells
- Cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy (damage to the heart muscle), heart
failure, and strokes
- Ulcers from the perforation of the stomach and the intestines
- Harm to the fetus while the mother is pregnant
- Organ and system malfunction
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Brain damage
Conclusion: Alcoholism Side Effects
Alcoholism side effects are widespread as well as devastating.
More precisely, alcoholism is beyond doubt a damaging, destructive, and incapacitating disease that negatively
affects the alcoholic; the alcoholic's social network, namely his family members, other relatives, neighbors,
friends, and work associates; and the ill-fated "strangers" who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time
when the alcoholic causes a traffic fatality or traffic injury.
This, however, is not the full scope of the side effects of the disease.
Indeed, the side effects of alcoholism reveal themselves in an extraordinary number of health problems,
illnesses, and medical conditions that are suffered by the alcoholic.
In fact, it is almost overwhelming when first looking at the variety, the number, and the severity of the
diseases and illnesses that are the direct or indirect side effects of alcoholism.
After the issue is analyzed more thoroughly, however, the medical consequences and health problems of the
disease become less shocking and more reasonable.
Stated differently, over time, alcoholism progressively breaks down the normal functioning of the body's main
systems and organs.
Furthermore, the alcoholic cannot replenish the vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients his body needs
due to poor eating habits and, perhaps more importantly, because the body's malfunctioning systems and organs
prevent the proper absorption, digestion, metabolism, and processing of the nutrients essential for repair, growth,
and general maintenance.
Consequently, over time, the alcoholic slowly kills himself or herself by his or her alcoholic behavior.