April is National Alcohol Awareness Month, bringing information and education to the public about the potential harms of alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is hard to define because cultures around the world define drinking differently. According to the US Government, alcohol abuse starts with binge drinking, which can be defined as five or more drinks in a two hour period for men. Binge drinking, or abusive drinking, is any kind of drinking which raises the blood alcohol concentration level to 0.08 or above. Most people, surveys have found, drink in this way at least once a month. Problems arise if someone is binge drinking, abusing alcohol, or drinking alcoholically multiple times a week. Though binge drinking does not necessarily lead to the development of alcoholism, it can. Abusing alcohol in any way puts a man at risk for developing alcoholism. Both alcohol abuse and alcoholism can have long term effects on the mind as well as the body.
The culmination of brain damage due to alcohol abuse is called “wet brain” or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Deprived of essential nutrients and saturated with alcohol, the brain develops a thiamine deficiency. Men who develop wet brain are at risk of losing their brain function entirely and not being able to gain it back.
Wet brain is the most extreme form of damage to the brain. Many men who abuse alcohol are forced to deal with brain damage in other ways for example, cognitive impairments. Alcohol abuse damages the prefrontal cortex, in addition to other areas of the brain. The prefrontal cortex houses men’s cognitive functions, all of the executive functions needed for living on a day to day basis. Everything from motor functions like walking and talking to more abstract functions like thinking and feeling, operate from the prefrontal cortex. Alcohol abuse damages the connections this part of the brain has with others, which can disrupt all kinds of functions in the brain, as well as functions between the brain and the body.
Alcohol is processed through the liver. When the liver is inundated with alcohol, it cannot function normally. Slowly, the liver breaks down, leaving more concentrated alcohol in the liver and the rest of the body. Liver disease, alcoholic fatty liver disease, cancer of the liver, and other complications are common with long term alcohol abuse. In some of the worst cases, men will lose their livers, need a liver transplant, or will die as a result of liver failure.
The liver is not the only organ damaged by long term alcohol abuse. The pancreas can also suffer, as can the stomach and the intestines. One of the organs most at risk, however, is the heart. Alcohol abuse can clog the arteries, lead to heart attack, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
Make this the year you finally get and stay sober. At Tree House Recovery in Orange County, we’re transforming beyond sober. Life is meant to be lived to the fullest, without limitations. Our men’s treatment programs helps men find freedom from addiction by creating a total transformation of mind and body, inside and out. For information, call: (855) 202-2138