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Couple huggingExcessive use of alcohol can have devastating physical effects on the user. When an individual continuously drinks alcohol in excess, has difficulty controlling their behavior, and develops a tolerance to its effects over time, the individual often is diagnosed with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). If individuals do not seek treatment, the physical effects caused by their alcohol abuse can cause permanent damage for the rest of their lives.

In 2014, 16 million adults and 679,000 adolescents ages 12-17 had an AUD. Approximately 88,000 people die from alcohol-related causes every year, making it the 4th leading preventable cause of death in the United States. These statistics show how important it is to recognize the warning signs of alcohol addiction and understand the physical effects of prolonged alcohol abuse.

Causes of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse is caused by a multitude of factors that include genetic, environmental, and social components. For adolescents, alcohol abuse is often the result of environmental and peer pressures and the stress associated with ‘fitting in’ with their social groups.

Often individuals use alcohol as a coping mechanism to battle through or avoid difficult situations. Some individuals may be diagnosed with a co-occurring disorder and use alcohol as a tool to overcome painful moments. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says “people with mental health disorders are more likely than people without mental health disorders to experience an alcohol or substance use disorder.” Individuals with mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, or PTSD often use alcohol as a coping mechanism to deal with the symptoms of their mental health disorder.

Individuals who use alcohol to cope with everyday problems and emotional episodes can become more easily addicted and become both mentally and physically dependent on the drug. This prolonged physical dependence on alcohol has extremely harmful physical, emotional, psychological and relational effects on the user.

Physical Effects of Prolonged Alcohol Abuse

If alcohol addiction goes untreated, the physical effects of alcohol dependence can lead to a lifetime of health related problems that increase the likelihood of a premature death. Alcohol negatively impacts the body’s main organs and weakens the body’s immune system which ultimately makes it more susceptible to diseases and infections.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the following are the physical effects of prolonged alcohol abuse:


  • Impairs memory
  • Disrupts neuronal pathways
  • Blurred vision
  • Slows reaction time
  • Impairs decision making
  • Difficulty walking
  • Slurred speech
  • Produces blackouts


  • Causes stretching  and drooping of heart muscle (Cardiomyopathy)
  • Causes an irregular heartbeat (Arrhythmias)
  • Induces a stroke
  • High blood pressure


  • Fatty liver (Steatosis)
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis


  • Pancreatitis (inflammation and swelling of blood vessels in pancreas)


Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to an increased likelihood of developing the following cancers:

  • Mouth
  • Esophagus
  • Throat
  • Liver
  • Breast

Seeking a whole-person approach to treatment

When individuals do not seek treatment for alcohol abuse, it makes it difficult to overcome their addiction or co-occurring disorder and ultimately decreases their quality of life. Making the decision to seek treatment is the best solution to preventing lifelong health problems caused by prolonged uses of alcohol. Choosing a treatment center that focuses on a “whole-person approach” and is equipped in helping individuals with alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorders is essential in helping them overcome their disorder and lead a healthy, sober life.

The selected treatment center should include a medical staff to help the patient detoxify the body from alcohol. The medical detoxification process may include medication for the individual to withstand the withdrawal symptoms caused by a prolonged use of alcohol. The goal of the detoxification process is to free the individual of all alcoholic toxins. Thereafter the recovery process must include a multi-faceted approach to create personalized coping mechanisms to keep patients sober throughout their lifetimes and avoid a relapse.

Covenant Hills, an alcohol addiction treatment facility in Orange County, California and San Antonio, Texas, believes effective treatment for alcohol addiction is founded upon a faith-based approach. That approach should include an individually designed treatment plan, individual and group therapy sessions, and a wide-range of program options that administers hope to the individual to fully recover from their alcohol addiction. When choosing the right treatment center, individuals must look for a facility that focuses on the “whole-person approach” to helping patients fully restore their mind, body, and spirit from alcohol addiction. By instilling faith into the recovery process, it ensures that individuals will always feel connected to a larger community when battling difficult moments in the future.
Making the call to Covenant Hills will help you find your life’s true purpose and will ultimately save you from addiction. Please call us today at (800) 662-2873. This is a free, confidential call and assessment. One simple call can change your life.