If you or a loved one abuses alcohol on a regular basis, you may be wondering whether alcoholics experience a significantly decreased life expectancy. The short answer to this question is yes. Even though alcohol is a legal substance, it nonetheless contains a number of toxic compounds that can seriously compromise the health of the average person when consumed in excess. Following is a short list of some of the more common physical illnesses and conditions that can shorten the life of an alcoholic:
- Liver disease
- Cardiovascular issues
- Certain types of cancer
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Because alcoholism, which is referred to as alcohol use disorder in a clinical settings, is a progressive disease, most of the above conditions occur in those with chronic addiction to alcohol that has developed over a number of years. However, alcohol abuse has other potentially life-shortening consequences that go beyond the specific diseases listed above.
The Effects of Alcohol on the Central Nervous System
As a depressant that acts on the central nervous system, alcohol can cause unsteady movement and speech, inhibited reflexes, and inaccurate perceptions. Any or all of these can result in bad judgment calls that lead to death, such as getting behind the wheel of a vehicle, boat, or bicycle, getting into an inadvisable physical altercation, or even drinking so much in one session that alcohol poisoning occurs. Even a simple slip-and-fall accident may have deadly results for someone who is under the influence of alcohol.
Lessened inhibitions caused by drinking alcohol include engaging in risky behavior that leads to dire consequences.
The Effects of Alcohol on Mental Health
Alcoholics often also experience diminished mental health, and this can have a negative effect on life expectancy as well. For instance, although many people use it in an attempt to relieve stress, continued consumption of alcohol on a regular basis is a known contributor to anxiety and stress — and stress is another known contributor in its own right to reduced life expectancy, particularly when it comes to cardiovascular issues.
Because alcoholics often end up isolated and alone, they also face the risk of becoming clinically depressed. In extreme cases, this can lead to suicide.
The Effects of Alcohol on the Immune System
Regular alcohol consumption also wreaks havoc on the immune system by negatively affecting immune cells in key bodily organs, making it easier for a variety of infectious diseases to gain a foothold. Colds, flu, and other viral conditions are more likely to last longer and have more serious symptoms in those who drink heavily than their counterparts who consume alcohol in moderation or not at all.
Alcohol can also damage the microorganisms in the intestinal system that promote a healthy immune system.
Treatment Options for Those With Alcohol Use Disorder
Live Free Recovery Programs offers several programs designed to help those suffering from substance addictions break free and live a clean and sober life. One of these options is Structured Sober Living. This program combines structured residential living with 12-step philosophy and practices.
We have quality sober living homes situated throughout the state of New Hampshire. Please feel free to contact us at your convenience for more information on how we can help those suffering from addiction to reclaim their lives.