Alcohol addiction and its ill effects on health

Alcohol consumption has become a part of most of the people now a days in our country, whether people belong to low socio economic status or high socio economic status all are involved. This article provides some basic information about alcohol, alcohol addiction, its ill effects on health and treatment of alcoholism.


Alcohol consumption has become more common these days in our country. All classes of people whether lower class, middle class or higher class all are involved in alcohol addiction. Whatever the reason may be, many people are getting addicted and suffering because of its ill effects. It has become a major social problem in our country. Poor person who got addicted with alcohol, whatever he earns in a day is spending for the sake of alcohol and he is becoming more and more poor. Alcohol addiction has many ill effects relating to medical, psychological as well as social aspects. Alcoholism is the term used when the consumption of alcohol is to a point, which causes damage to the individual, society or both. Alcohol abuse is the term used when there is physical dependence, psychological dependence or both.

Properties of alcohol

Alcohol is a liquid with a strong burning taste. The absorption of alcohol will be more on empty stomach than stomach with some food stuff. The rate of absorption is more than its elimination by kidneys. A concentration of 80 – 100 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood can cause intoxication, 225 – 250 mg per 100 ml of blood can be toxic, 300 mg in 100 ml of blood can be comatic whereas 500 mg / 100 ml will be fatal. The effect of alcohol on body depends on the tolerance of an individual. 250 ml of beer, 100 ml of wine and 30 ml of whisky each contain 10 mg of alcohol.

Effect of alcohol on body

Alcohol effects almost every system of the body, but liver is the most effected organ of all.

Effect of alcohol on liver

It causes Fatty liver, Hepatitis and Cirrhosis and considered as alcoholic liver disease.
Fatty liver : It is the accumulation of abnormal excessive fat in the liver. The presence of more than 5 gram of fat per 100 gram of liver tissue is considered as fatty liver.
Clinical features : Usually asymptomatic with enlarged firm and smooth liver on palpation. If symptoms present they may be
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Pain in epigastric, periumbilical and right hypochondriac regions.

Alcoholic hepatitis : The inflammation of liver due to alcohol is called alcoholic hepatitis.
Clinical features :
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Jaundice
• Generalized weakness
• Fever
• Hepatomegaly
• Tenderness in right hypochondrium
• Upper gastro-intestinal bleeding
• Hepatic encephalopathy

Alcoholic liver cirrhosis : Formation of nodules takes place and function of the liver is decreased. It is due to the inhibitory effect of alcohol on the regeneration of liver.
Clinical features :
• Usually asymptomatic
• Stigmata of chronic liver disease
• Hypogonadism and feminization in males.

Treatment of alcoholic liver disease

• Complete avoidance of alcohol
• Protein rich diet
• Electrolyte supplementations
• Nutritious food with all vitamins
• Treatment of withdrawal symptoms
• Treatment of complications like acute gastro-intestinal bleeding, ascitis, encephalopathy etc., if present
• Liver transplantation in severe cases

Effect of alcohol on central nervous system

Following disorders can be seen
• Acute alcoholic intoxication : Euphoria, in-coordination or coma depending on the tolerance and amount of alcohol consumed.
• Withdrawal symptoms : These usually occur in chronic alcoholism for 5 – 10 years and after avoidance for 12 – 36 hours. Symptoms include tremors, anxiety, fits, nightmares, nausea, vomiting etc.,
• Peripheral neuropathy : Symptoms include paresthesia in feet and hands weakness and wasting of distal muscles of legs and arms.
• Dementia : decreased memory

Effect of alcohol on gastro – intestinal system

• Oesophagitis : Inflammation of mucosa of oesophagus
• Gastritis : Inflammation of mucosa of stomach
• Peptic ulcers
• Nausea and vomiting
• Epigastric pain
• Acute and chronic pancreatitis
• Cancer of pancreas
• Interferes the absorption of vitamins and nutrients from intestines

Effect of alcohol on reproductive system

• Increased sexual drive but decreased erectile function
• Atrophy of testes
• Amenorrhea in females

Effect of alcohol on blood

• Anemia
• Thrombocytopenia

Psychosocial effects

• Depression
• Anxiety
• Dementia
• Cognitive impairment
• Family and marital problems
• Sexual abuse
• Economical problems
• Frequent absenteeism to the duties
• Frequent road traffic accidents
• Suicidal thoughts
• Hallucinations
• Delirium tremens


• Symptomatic treatment for all the symptoms
• Benzodiazepines for treatment of alcohol intoxication
• Anti – convulsant therapy
• Vitamin supplementations
• Fluid and electrolyte balance monitoring
• Administration of disulfiram to ensure complete abstinence
• Psychotherapy
• Group therapy
• Family therapy
• De – addiction therapy

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