Alcohol Dependency and abuse continues to be a major health concern in the United States.  Estimates of those affected by alcoholism are commonly cited as 1 out of every ten Americans.  Alcohol continues to send emergency room admissions skyrocketing and causes more fatalities from its related problems every year and causes 4% of all deaths worldwide (WHO, 2011).  This is more than HIV, Tuberculosis, and Violence.  Houston, we still have a problem.

Alcohol and the body

According to Nelae DeChurch, Licensed Physician Assistant at True North Recovery Services alcohol can cause some the following bodily complications:

·       Gastrititis

·       Pancreatitus

·       Cirrhosis of the Liver

·       Mallory Weiss tear in the esophagus

·       Cardiac arrhythmias

·       Cardiomyopathy

·       Cerebrovacular accidents

·       Sudden cardiac death

·       Korakoff’s Psychosis

·       Weirnecke’s Encalopathy

She says this list is a sampling of the varied problems that alcohol abuse can cause and that those with a history or concern over their alcohol consumption should consult their physicians through having an honest discussion about their drinking so that appropriate lab testing, evaluation, and possibly can occur.

Alcohol and the brain

Alcohol is a depressant and slows down neurological connections in all these centers!

•       Cerebral cortex: Lack of senses, inhibitory centers engage, poor judgment results

•       Frontal lobe: Unable to adequately plan or form ideas

•       Cerebellum: Coordination, decrease in awareness

•       Hippocampus: Poor memory formation, “blackouts.”If damaged, may be hard to learn new things

•       Hypothalamus: The “housekeeper” of the brain. Increases blood pressure, and urge to urinate

•       Medulla: Controls body temperature and heart rate. Too much damage= coma/death

•       Reward Pathway: Alcohol travels the reward pathways and is highly addictive.

Nelae DeChurch, PA-C

Psychiatric Physician Assistant
True North Recovery Services