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Alcohol’s shocking effects on your body

If you’re practising abstinence during Dry January and beyond, your body will almost certainly thank you for it. Read on for the shocking truth about how alcohol effects us physiologically and you’ll soon realise why. If you think you may have an alcohol addiction, Port of Call can help guide you towards the right treatment, including alcohol rehab

Symptoms of alcoholism

Alcohol is a poison like any other. It just so happens to be legal and very much available everywhere we go. Drink too much, however, and the worst case scenario could be unconsciousness, coma and even death. In short, by drinking to excess you’re potentially damaging your health and could even be putting your life in danger.

Alcohol’s effect on our bodies

For every drink we consume our livers then have to filter that alcohol out of our blood. Alcohol is rapidly absorbed by our bodies and yet it takes around an hour to process a single unit every hour. That’s the equivalent of just one 25ml single measure of whisky (ABV 40%), a third of a pint of beer (ABV 5-6%) or half a standard (175ml) glass of red wine (ABV 12%).

So by drinking large amounts of alcohol, over the concentrated period of a night out, we’re putting our bodies under a huge amount of stress trying to process it all. As a consequence, the amount of alcohol in our bloodstream, known as blood alcohol concentration (BAC), rises. The higher the BAC, the worse our body functions are affected.

Continued effects of alcoholism

Even at the legal drink drive limit, which is a BAC of 80 milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (dl), you can expect to lose some coordination and find your perceptions altered. At 100-200mg per dl impaired judgment, slurred speech, memory loss and involuntary movement of your eyes could kick in.

At 200-400mg per dl, you could experience double vision, sickness, hypothermia and severely slurred speech. Shockingly, alcohol levels more than 400mg per dl can result in severe breathing difficulties, coma and death. At these extreme levels, alcohol adversely affects automatic functions like breathing, your heartbeat and the gag reflex that stops you from choking.

Even 30-40 minutes after someone’s last drink, the alcohol levels in their blood can continue to rise, which can cause their symptoms to suddenly deteriorate.

Signs of alcohol poisoning

The signs of alcohol poisoning that you should look out for include confusion; loss of coordination; vomiting; seizures; irregular or slow breathing (less than eight breaths a minute); blue-tinged or pale skin; low body temperature (hypothermia); stupor and unconsciousness.

The rule of thumb for alcohol poisoning is to be better safe than sorry. So if you think that someone might be experiencing it, even if you’re not absolutely certain, call 999 for an ambulance. Hospital staff will closely monitor them until all the alcohol has left their system.

Make us your first Port of Call. If you, or a loved one, are dealing with alcohol addiction we can help you to access the right addiction treatment at the right time. Wherever you live, we can find the right rehab for you. Take the first step today by speaking to one of our advisers for free on 08000029010.

About the author: Martin Preston

Martin is our Founder and Chief Executive. Martin is himself in long term recovery and started Port of Call to help families navigate treatment options. In 2020 Martin will open Delamere Health Ltd, the UK’s first purpose built addiction treatment clinic.

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