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The long-term effects of alcohol on your health

As it’s Heart Month, Port of Call explores the long-term effects of alcohol on your heart and the wider damage that binge drinking can have on your overall health.

Drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can have a harmful effect on your heart and general health. It can cause abnormal heart rhythms, high blood pressure, damage to your heart muscle and other diseases such as stroke, liver problems and some cancers.

Risky binge drinking habits

If you drink alcohol, it’s important to keep within the guidelines. Men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol each week and you should have several alcohol-free days each week. In 2013, 18% of men said their average weekly alcohol consumption was more than 21 units (the previous recommended weekly amount) but less than 50 units a week.

Binge drinking

Among women, 13% said their average weekly consumption was more than 14 but less than 35 units. These are levels above the ‘lower risk’ government guidelines and put people at increased risk of harm from alcohol. That same year, 5% of men in England ‘high risk’ average levels of weekly alcohol consumption, which is more than 50 units per week. For women, the equivalent figure was 3% who drank more than 35 units a week.

Damaging effects of alcohol

We’re all familiar with the short-term inconvenience of a sore head, nausea and perhaps a hint of embarrassment after a heavy night of drinking. But when a few social drinks escalate towards the tell-tale signs of alcoholism, what sort of trauma can alcohol wage on the body over the long-term?

“Drinking hazardous amounts of alcohol for many years will take its toll on many of the body’s organs and may cause organ damage,” NHS Choices forecasts bleakly. “Organs known to be damaged by long-term alcohol misuse include the brain and nervous system, heart, liver and pancreas.

Heavy drinking can also increase your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, both of which are major risk factors for heart attacks and strokes. Long-term alcohol misuse can weaken your immune system, making you more vulnerable to serious infections. It can also weaken your bones, placing you at greater risk of fracturing or breaking them

Recognise the signs of alcoholism with our self-test.

Addiction treatment from Port of Call

Put simply, if drinking causes you problems, then you have a drinking problem. When the negatives outweigh the positives, it could be time to re-evaluate your relationship with the bottle. Seeking help at the earliest juncture increases the likelihood of avoiding, or decreasing, the potentially chronic effects of alcohol described above.

If you, or someone you know, is physically dependent on alcohol do not attempt to stop or detox without consulting a medical practitioner or Addiction Specialist first – serious alcohol withdrawal symptoms can result in death. Help is at hand, however, because Port of Call’s specialist advisers can offer a range of addiction treatment options, including alcohol rehab. We can guide you to the right help at the right time.

Do you know someone who needs help with their drinking?

Are you worried about the amount that you drink?

Wherever you live, we can find the rehab for you. Contact Port of Call today for a free and confidential assessment on 08000029010. You can also email us on help@portofcall.com or text ‘PORT’ to 82228 and we’ll call you back.

About the author: Alex Molyneux

Alex is our admissions team leader. Over the last 5 years he has spoken with more than 10,000 people via our helpline and has organised over 1,000 detox and rehabilitation placements.

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