Alcohol can be equally damaging to your liver and kidneys as cigarettes are to you lungs. Mixing alcohol with over the counter drugs like Tylenol can be devastating to your body. And like cigarettes, alcohol can be addictive. If you make drinking a habit you are in danger of becoming an alcoholic. Alcoholism destroys your life, your relationships, and your health. If you want to get divorced, lose your job, be abusive to your children, and destroy your body, then by all means start drinking now.

The Effects of Alcohol on the body

Heavy drinking can harm virtually every organ in the body. In addition to being toxic, alcohol weakens the immune system, increasing your risk of infection and disease.

Alcohol causes disease of the pancreas.

How alcohol affects the sexual organs
Alcohol causes sexual dysfunction. Many men fail to achieve and retain an erection when under the influence of alcohol.

How alcohol affects your liver
In heavy drinkers liver cells damaged by alcohol may be replaced with connective tissue instead of new liver cells. This connective tissue infiltrates more and more of the liver until it becomes bloated and unable to function. This is called cirrhosis, a disease that frequently ends in a painful death. Speaking of painful deaths, alcoholics are often blessed with liver cancer. Alcohol metabolized by the liver produces acetaldehyde, which is more poisonous than alcohol itself and is associated with disease of the heart muscle and addiction. Vitamin C helps destroy alcohol before acetaldehyde is produced. However this doesn't make you immune to alcohol, since vitamin C can only stop a fraction of your alcoholic intake.

How alcohol affects your heart
Heavy drinking increases your risk of cardiovascular disease. Also, as previously mentioned, alcohol metabolized by the liver produces acetaldehyde, which is more poisonous than alcohol itself and is associated with disease of the heart muscle and addiction. Vitamin C helps destroy alcohol before acetaldehyde is produced. However this doesn't make you immune to alcohol, since vitamin C can only stop a fraction of your alcoholic intake.

How alcohol affects your brain
It's no surprise that alcohol kills brain cells. Long time alcoholics are subjected to memory loss, hallucinations and paranoia.

How alcohol affects digestion
Alcohol interferes with the absorption and utilization of vitamins. It blocks absorption of vitamin K resulting in poor blood clotting. It interferes with beta-carotene from vegetables, which in turn reduces absorption of vitamin A resulting in a possible increase of head and neck cancers. It interferes with the absorption and increases the elimination of vitamin B. It blocks conversion of vitamin B1 (thiamin) into its active form, resulting in poor nutrition and polyneuritis, a painful inflammation of the nerves.

Alcohol and Cancer
Alcoholics have a high incidence of cancer of the liver, mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus. Certain drinks have their own menu of cancers: American beer is linked to colon and rectal cancer. Puerto Rican distilled rum and wine from Normandy is linked to esophageal cancer. Wines in general usually contain cancer-causing chemicals, used throughout the production process, from growing the grapes, to fermentation, to bottling.

Cigarettes and alcohol: the Deadly Duo
Cigarette carcinogens initiate cancers while alcohol promotes their development. Take mouth and pharynx cancer for instance. If you only drink or only smoke, you have 2 to 3 times the risk of developing these cancers. If you smoke and drink, your risk is 15 times greater!

Women who drink alcohol during pregnancy...

  • Can cause brain damage to their baby.
  • Are more likely to have a miscarriage.
  • Are more likely to have a newborn with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS). This is a tragic disorder resulting in mental retardation, behavioral problems, heart defects, severe facial malformation, and body defects.

Children of alcoholics are...

  • More likely to be born with fetal alcohol syndrome.
  • More susceptible to depression and anxiety.
  • More likely to have a low self-esteem.
  • More likely to drop out of school. More likely to act aggressive and impulsive.
  • More likely to experience physical and mental health problems.
  • More likely to experience child abuse.

Children of families with a history of alcohol addiction are 400 times more likely to use drugs. This doesn't mean that if you are one of these children you will use drugs. This means that it is highly advisable that you never even try drugs in order to save you from a life of addiction. You can't be addicted to anything you haven't experienced!

Alcohol can affect women faster and more severely because they have more body fat and often less body water than men, causing the alcohol to enter the blood stream in a less diluted form.

Teens who drink are...

  • More likely to have poor eating habits
  • More likely to have respiratory problems
  • More likely to be generally fatigued
  • More likely to have sleep disorders
  • At risk for life threatening liver damage (even at a young age)
  • At high risk for becoming alcoholics later on. Those from families with a history of alcoholism or other substance abuse are at the highest risk.

Alcohol and Death

  • Alcohol can kill you within hours.
  • Dying of alcohol poisoning or choking and drowning in your own vomit is not a valiant way to die.
  • Funneling (pouring an alcoholic beverage down your throat through a funnel placed in your mouth) puts you at high risk for alcohol poisoning.
  • Binge drinking (5 or more drinks at one sitting) also puts you in great danger.

Drinking and Driving

  • Auto accidents are the leading cause of death for Americans between ages 1 to 34.
  • Every 3 minutes someone causes an automobile accident and dies under the influence of alcohol.
  • 3 in 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash.

Drinking and driving can...

  • Land you in jail convicted for a homicide or manslaughter.
  • Leave you drowning in your car at the bottom of a river.
  • Leave you with overwhelming guilt for crippling an innocent person.
  • Leave you with overwhelming guilt for causing the death of a mother's unborn child.
  • Kill you and those close to you.

Drinking and driving includes motorcycles, bicycles, boats, jet skis, snowmobiles, and other recreational vehicles in addition to cars.

Alcohol and Accidents: Alcoholics are...

  • 16 times more likely to fall to their death.
  • 10 times more likely to become fire or burn victims.
  • More likely to be injured or die in an industrial accident.
  • More likely to drown.

Alcohol and Sperm
Men who drink heavily (two drinks daily or at least 5 at one sitting) during the month before conception can significantly lower the birth weight of the baby. Low birth weight infants are more likely to die within the first year and are more likely to have birth defects or respiratory problems.

Can alcohol be good for you?
There is evidence to suggest that small amounts of certain alcoholic drinks like red wine may protect you against coronary artery disease. However, the cost of alcohol far outweighs any benefits it may have. Alcohol provides no health benefits greater than the benefits you get from either regular exercise, eating healthy or getting enough sleep. In order to avoid the dangers of alcohol, you need to be able to control the amount you drink to 1 glass for special occasions. The problem with this, is that some people are prone to alcoholism. One drink could be the start of a life-threatening problem. Alcohol is much worse for you than it is good for you.

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Related Info

Specialized alcohol addiction facilities such as this alcohol rehab for women exist and can help an alcoholic overcome their dependency.

It's best to get an addicted loved one to an alcohol and drug treatment center fast before addiction's consequences take their toll.