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Independent medical expert answers on psychiatry and psychology

Long Term Alcohol Abuse Effects

This page abstract: Prolonged alcohol abuse exposes you to a high risk of damage to the body and the brain.

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Independent medical expert answers on psychiatry and psychology

Long Term Alcohol Abuse Effects

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Written by: Wendy Moelker, Psychologist in charge, tutor, Emergis center for mental health care, Goes, the Netherlands.
First version: 22 Jul 2008.
Latest revision: 06 Sep 2008.

What are the long term alcohol effects? What are the alcohol abuse effects?

Answer:

Those who often drink too much run a high risk of suffering physical damage. The level of damage depends on the amount. The organs that are used for the absorption and digestion of alcohol, like the stomach, the liver and the pancreas, are vulnerable. The brain also suffers from continuous abuse.

The liver is an important organ for the breakdown of alcohol. Excessive alcohol use can cause fatty degeneration of the liver, causing so-called fatty liver. Liver research has shown that probably more than half of the alcohol addicts have fatty liver. This can cause nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, loss of weight and fever. After stopping alcohol use, the liver can recover from fatty liver.

The most known incurable liver disorder caused by alcohol abuse is liver cirrhosis. More.

Other frequent diseases of the organs are gastritis (infection of the mucous membrane of the stomach) and inflammation of the pancreas. Gastritis can cause stomach bleeding; inflammation of the pancreas causes lower absorption of nutrients, causing, among others, loss of weight.

Several investigations have found a relation between excessive alcohol abuse and cancer of the mouth, throat and esophagus, especially with drinkers who also smoke. Heavy drinkers also run a higher risk of contracting cancer of the liver and the large intestine. Women who drink a lot have a higher risk of breast cancer.

Brain damage, like Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome ( more ) can occur.

The list of disorders caused by alcohol abuse is so long that we cannot mention them all.

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