Alcoholism looks different in every person. For some, it may mean missing out on important life events or ignoring friends and family to drink.
But for others, it means sneaking drinks into the workplace or casually downing beer after beer as if it were water.
Make no mistake about it, functioning alcoholism is still alcoholism and comes with its own set of dangerous health effects.
Learn to spot the red flags and stop drinking alcohol before it’s too late. Here are five major health issues associated with being a functioning alcoholic.
1. Liver Disease
Alcohol is such a common part of our society that we often forget about its toxic effects. Indeed, alcohol is technically a toxin, and processing alcoholic beverages can greatly harm your liver.
Those who drink on a regular basis are more likely to suffer from dangerous alcohol-related diseases like cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis c, or even outright liver failure.
In each of these cases, impaired liver functionality makes it harder for your body to remove harmful chemicals and bacteria.
2. Brain Damage
When we see a friend slurring their speech or tripping over their feet after a few adult beverages, we tend to laugh it off. Yet alcohol has a tremendous and negative effect on the brain.
In addition to impaired motor functions like reduced memory or the aforementioned speech slurring, frequent consumption can lead to an illness known as Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome.
A person suffering from Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome is likely to feel consistent confusion, experience ocular paralysis, and suffer from retrograde amnesia.
Frequent alcohol use can exacerbate pre-existing symptoms of mental health conditions, such as depression.
This is because alcohol is known as a depressant, sometimes called a downer, which explains the calming sensation many get from drinking.
But that calm is short-lived. After a night of drinking, depressed drinkers may experience persistent sadness for days.
And since many functioning alcoholics use alcohol is a way to self-medicate, these feelings are often cyclical. An alcoholic will drink because they’re sad, feel better for a few moments, then feel guilty about their drinking habits and drink again to escape the discomfort.
Most alcoholic beverages—especially cocktails—are calorically dense with little to no nutritional value. In essence, they’re empty calories that make it almost impossible to shed weight and stay healthy.
While this can seem like reason enough to stop drinking if you’re on a diet, it gets worse.
Drinking can lead to lowered inhibitions, causing a person to overeat and consume more calories. Together, these factors can lead to expanding waistlines and bulging bellies.
The influx of chemicals caused by frequent drinking can overwhelm the brain. Eventually, our systems have no idea how to handle the increase in electrical activity, which causes seizures.
For those who already have epileptic tendencies, drinking alcohol exacerbates the likelihood of experiencing another seizure.
In extreme cases, seizures can even lead to death.
If you have a history of seizures and drink on a regular basis, it may be time to speak to an intervention consultant. Care Recovery Services can help you learn more.
The Dangers of Living as a Functioning Alcoholic
The term ‘functioning alcoholic’ can imply there isn’t a problem. But don’t get caught up in the terminology. Binge drinking on a consistent basis is dangerous and can lead to these dangerous health conditions and more.
If you’re concerned about your drinking or the drinking of a loved one, it isn’t too late to change. Speak with a professional and read our tips to living a healthier life.