The festive season is bearing down upon us, and you can almost hear the champagne corks popping already.
Most people consume twice as much alcohol as usual during this festive time. ‘Tis the season to be jolly after all. Until the cold clear light of dawn that is.
Along with overindulging in booze comes the inevitable punishment for your crimes – the infamous hangover. There’s a reason why the morning after hurts so much, and it isn’t good news.
This is what alcohol does to your body to cause such an unpleasant reaction.
The Effects of Alcohol on the Human Body
From the very first sip, alcohol starts to affect almost every fiber of your being. It slows down the neural highways in your brain, gradually affecting your emotions, balance, and ability to reason.
The brain stops regulating how much urine your kidneys produce, hence frequent trips to the bathroom and resulting dehydration. Alcohol also slows down how fast your pancreas releases insulin and it interferes with your heartbeat, causing it to beat erratically.
It irritates the lining of your stomach, causing it to excrete excess gastric juices. This is what makes you vomit after one too many drinks. Alcohol also relaxes the muscle that keeps acid away from your esophagus, resulting in hiccups or heartburn.
Your liver takes the brunt when you drink, it works non stop to try and rid your body of the alcohol you drink.
After a few glasses of wine, you might feel on top of the world and ready to party the night away, but is alcohol a stimulant? No, it’s not. Keep drinking and you’ll soon discover why alcohol’s classed as a central nervous system depressant.
Over time, alcohol abuse causes your body to shut down.
What Alcohol Does to Your Body Over Time
For many people, who simply can’t drink in moderation, these negative physical responses have a cumulative effect.
Prolonged abuse of alcohol causes your brain to shrink, ultimately resulting in irreversible brain damage. The constant stimulation of stomach acid can lead to ulcers.
Initially, alcohol widens your blood vessels, causing your skin to flush. Yet, the stress hormones produced during prolonged exposure to alcohol eventually make the blood vessels shrink. That means your blood pressure goes up.
Your heartbeat becomes erratic and your heart muscles soon become stretched and flabby from the unusual activity, leading to heart failure.
Your kidneys take a pounding from being in constant overdrive and start to wear out. Likewise, your liver starts to develop thick fibrous tissue and fat around it. Over a long period of time, this extra tissue and fat choke the liver until it stops working altogether.
Drinking for years on end means chemicals accumulate in the pancreas, causing inflammation and disease.
Now that you know what alcohol does to your body, please approach the festive season with caution.
If you feel you need alcohol as a crutch to get you through this stressful time or simply don’t know when to stop, you could have a problem. Don’t suffer alone. Get the help you need so that you can experience the true joy associated with this time of year.
For more advice on substance abuse, take a look at the ‘rehab’ section of our blog.