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Physical issues and alcoholism are almost always linked together because an alcohol addiction will cause physical issues with the body, social life and family life of the abuser. Alcoholism is the consumption of, or preoccupation with alcoholic beverages to the extent that it interferes with the alcoholic’s normal, personal, family, social or work life.

Physical Issues and Alcoholism Go Hand-in-Hand

Physical Issues and AlcoholismWhile alcohol use is required to trigger alcoholism, the biological mechanism of this disease is unknown.  For most people, moderate alcohol consumption does not cause any problems or pose any danger.  It is also known that factors such as social environment, emotional health, and genetic predisposition may also be factors.

In the United States today, there are over 15 million Americans that suffer from physical issues and alcoholism.  Identification of alcoholics may be difficult because there is currently no detectable physiological difference between a person who consumes too much alcohol and a person who cannot control his/her drinking.  Identification usually involves an objective assessment regarding damage done to the alcoholic’s life.

There are several physical symptoms that serve as indicators that the disease is present in the mind and body.  These physical symptoms include:

  • Increased tolerance
  • Continued use despite persistent physical problems
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Red eyes, puffy face
  • Numbness in the legs or arms
  • Swelling of the liver
  • Blackouts

As a result of this disease, there are many physical conditions that can be directly linked to alcoholism including:

  • Death due to alcohol poisoning
  • Blackouts (occurrences where the user loses time as if in a dreamless state but to everyone else, the alcoholic is fully awake and conscious)
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Pancreatitis
  • Heart disease
  • Polyneuropathy, or damage to the nerves leading to poor sensation of pain and impaired mobility
  • Alcoholic dementia, also known as “wet brain” as a result of widening fissures in the cortex, with symptoms including diminished mental capacity, impaired motor function, and vision loss
  • Increased incidence of many types of cancer including breast cancer, head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer and colorectal cancer
  • Nutritional deficiency
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Osteoporosis and osteonecrosis
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome – a brain disorder involving loss of specific brain functions caused by a thiamine deficiency.
  • Vision changes (double vision, eye movement abnormalities, eyelid drooping)
  • Loss of muscle coordination (unsteady, uncoordinated walking–the person may appear to have an uncoordinated “drunk stagger” when they are not drunk)
  • Profound loss of memory
  • Inability to form new memories
  • Confabulation (making up stories)
  • Hallucinations


A physical issue that can be directly linked to alcoholism is alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal occurs when the alcohol is no longer put into the system.  Alcohol withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable both physically and psychologically for the alcoholic.

Alcohol RehabDuring physical withdrawal, the actual physical symptoms of the withdrawal would depend on the amount of alcohol the user consumed.  For a mild alcoholic, they may experience physical withdrawal symptoms such as cold sweats, headaches, confusion, dizziness and a drop in their concentration level. For the heavy alcoholic, these same symptoms would also apply but there are several more serious physical symptoms that may occur. These severe symptoms may include convulsions, extreme nausea and if not done in a controlled environment, death. Because of the seriousness of this disease, it is important to note that alcoholics should only attempt withdrawal under the direct supervision of a medical facility that specializes in detoxification.

Many drug rehab centers have supervised detoxification programs that are the first step to treatment of physical issues and alcoholism.

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