When alcoholism goes untreated, all aspects of health are affected, especially the physical aspect. The clinical term for untreated alcoholism is “alcohol poisoning,” and the implications are frightening.
When one is poisoned from the amount of alcohol consumed, areas of the brain shut down that control basic life-support functions such as temperature, breathing and heart rate. Loss of coordination, clammy hands, seizures, uneven body temperature, repeated vomiting and irregular breathing are all symptoms of alcohol poisoning. When they begin to surface, it’s time to get treatment.
Common Bodily Health Risks from Chronic, Heavy Drinking
According to Medical News Today, some of the most common bodily health risks of alcohol poisoning, which result from untreated alcoholism, are liver and brain damage, pancreatitis and compromised immune system.
Brain damage: Alcohol affects moods and emotions, as well as cognitive functioning. It also disrupts balance and fine motor coordination, making falls extremely likely. Early and permanent dementia is also a possibility with untreated alcoholism.
Liver damage: One of the biggest risks of untreated alcoholism is alcoholic hepatitis, which is long-term inflammation of the liver. About 40 percent of those with alcoholic hepatitis will develop cirrhosis, which comes from the scarring that occurs with alcoholic hepatitis. Multiple organ failure and death can be the result of cirrhosis.
Pancreatitis: This condition is a painful inflammation of the pancreas, usually preceded by five to ten years of chronic alcohol abuse. Mild cases may not require treatment, but severe cases such as those caused by untreated alcoholism can cause life-threatening complications and require hospitalization.
Compromised immune system: White blood cells get trapped in the spleen with heavy drinking, resulting in a drop in the white blood cell count. Prolonged heavy drinking diminishes the body’s ability to fight infection.
The moral of this story is to treat alcoholism as soon as possible. When symptoms surface, do not wait until the body completely disintegrates. Once addictive substances have left the body, healing can take place and people do recover.