It is estimated that around 14.5 million adults (aged 18 and older) in the United States had alcohol use disorder (AUD) in 2019. This represents about 5.8% of all adults in the country. However, this number may be an underestimate as some individuals with AUD may not have been included in the survey. Additionally, it is important to note that alcohol use disorder is a medical diagnosis and should be assessed by a healthcare professional.
Alcohol Blocks The Absorption of Vitamins
Alcohol consumption can interfere with the absorption and metabolism of several vitamins, including:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to absorb and use thiamine, which is necessary for the proper functioning of the nervous system. A deficiency in thiamine can lead to a condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which can cause confusion, memory loss, and other cognitive problems.
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): Alcohol can increase the excretion of niacin, which can contribute to a deficiency. Niacin is important for maintaining healthy skin, nerves, and digestion.
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and use vitamin B6, which is necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system and the metabolism of amino acids.
- Vitamin B9 (folate): Alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and use folate, which is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and the proper functioning of the nervous system.
- Vitamin C: Alcohol can increase the excretion of Vitamin C, which is important for maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, and bones.
- Vitamin D: Alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and use vitamin D, which is necessary for maintaining healthy bones and teeth.
The effect of alcohol on vitamin levels may vary depending on the individual and the amount of alcohol consumed. Additionally, chronic and excessive alcohol consumption can lead to nutrient deficiencies, which can lead to various health problems.
Alcohol Withdrawal Can Be Deadly
When someone who has been drinking heavily for an extended period of time suddenly stops or significantly reduces their alcohol intake, they can experience a range of symptoms known as alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). These symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include tremors, anxiety, insomnia, and seizures. In severe cases, withdrawal can progress to a condition called delirium tremens (DTs), which can be life-threatening.
DTs can cause severe confusion, agitation, hallucinations, fever, high blood pressure, and rapid heartbeat. In rare cases, DTs can lead to seizures, coma, and even death. Because of this, it is important for individuals who have been drinking heavily for an extended period of time and are considering stopping or reducing their alcohol intake to seek professional medical help.
Detoxing from alcohol should be always done under the supervision of medical professionals at a detox center, as the withdrawal symptoms can be unpredictable and dangerous, and the risk of seizures or delirium tremens can be high. It’s recommended that people with long-term heavy alcohol use, underlying medical conditions, and those who have had previous withdrawal episodes detox under close medical supervision.
Abusing Alcohol Can Cause Brain Damage
Alcohol is a toxic substance that can harm many organs in the body, including the brain. Long-term heavy alcohol consumption can damage your brain in a number of different ways, including:
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome: This condition is caused by a deficiency in vitamin B1 (thiamine) due to alcohol-induced malabsorption. It can cause confusion, memory loss, and other cognitive problems.
- Cerebellar ataxia: Damage to the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls coordination and balance, can cause unsteadiness, difficulty walking, and slurred speech.
- Cognitive impairment: Long-term heavy alcohol use can lead to a decline in cognitive function, including memory, attention, and executive function, which can make it difficult to perform daily tasks.
- Alcohol-related dementia: Prolonged and heavy alcohol use can cause a decline in cognitive function, which can lead to a decline in overall brain function, such as dementia.
- Changes in brain structure: Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to structural changes in the brain, such as shrinkage of the brain tissue and loss of brain cells.
It’s important to note that the extent of brain damage from alcohol abuse varies from person to person, and it depends on how much and how long someone has been drinking. Additionally, some of the brain damage caused by alcohol abuse can be reversible if the person stops drinking and receives proper care.
Alcoholism Can Change Your Appearance
Prolonged heavy alcohol abuse can cause changes in the appearance of the face. These changes can include:
- Facial bloating: Alcohol can cause fluid retention, which can make the face appear puffy and swollen.
- Broken blood vessels: Alcohol can cause the blood vessels in the face to dilate, which can lead to the appearance of small red veins, often referred to as “alcohol flush” or “alcohol flush reaction”
- Redness: Alcohol can cause the blood vessels in the face to expand, which can lead to a flushed appearance.
- Dry skin: Alcohol can dehydrate the skin, which can cause dryness, itching, and flaking.
- Bruising: Alcohol can thin the blood and make it more difficult for the blood to clot, which can make the skin more prone to bruising.
- Wrinkles: Long-term alcohol use can cause the skin to lose elasticity, which can lead to the development of wrinkles and fine lines.
- Acne: Alcohol can increase the production of oil in the skin, which can lead to the development of acne.
It’s also worth mentioning that alcohol use can impact your overall health, which can show on the face as well, with paleness, dark circles, and dullness.