Alcohol Abuse and Increased Risk for Stroke

Pouring alcohol into the crushed glass
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It is no mystery that drinking to excess comes with a long list of health problems. But despite that, people continue to drink too much. In fact, alcohol is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States, taking about 88,000 lives every year. About 14 million American adults struggle with an addiction to alcohol. Additionally, about a half million adolescents in the U.S. struggle with alcohol addiction.

As research into the area uncovers more about alcohol’s effects on the human body, it becomes even more apparent that people shouldn’t drink to excess. New data suggests that there is a direct relationship between excessive alcohol consumption and increased risk for stroke.

Now more than ever, it’s essential for Americans to drink less often and in lower quantities. For those addicted to alcohol, it couldn’t be more critical to get them help as soon as possible.

Alcohol and Stroke

A Swedish research team uncovered that excessive drinking could triple an individual’s risk for peripheral artery disease. Peripheral artery disease is a medical complication where the arteries are narrowed, blood flow is reduced, and the risk for stroke increases considerably. The researchers also found that heavy drinking increases the risk of coronary artery disease, atrial fibrillation, and aortic aneurysm.

“Higher alcohol consumption is a known cause of death and disability, yet it was previously unclear if alcohol consumption is also a cause of cardiovascular disease. Considering that many people consume alcohol regularly, it is important to disentangle any risks or benefits.”

Quoting Susanna Larsson (one of the study authors and an associate professor of epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm): “Higher alcohol consumption is a known cause of death and disability, yet it was previously unclear if alcohol consumption is also a cause of cardiovascular disease. Considering that many people consume alcohol regularly, it is important to disentangle any risks or benefits.” She went on to say, “Our study indicates that alcohol consumption increases the risk of high blood pressure and certain cardiovascular diseases and, therefore, should be consumed in moderation or not at all.”

What’s shocking about the Swedish research is that older medical data suggested that alcohol consumption may have heart health benefits, not risks. But the truth is, not only is that data outdated, but it only ever referred to minimal drinking, not excessive alcohol consumption. Furthermore, the ongoing discovery of further and further harms that come from alcohol consumption lead people to believe (and rightly so) that maybe it’s time to universally cut back on alcohol consumption.

The research also found that, not only do people who drink to excess increase their chances of experiencing a stroke by 27 percent, but drinkers also increase their risk for a whole plethora of other health problems.

Other Health Problems Associated with Alcohol Consumption

Alcoholic visits a doctor
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The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has provided extensive data on how alcohol harms the human body. In addition to increasing risk for stroke, here’s a look at some of the other regions of the body that are heavily affected by drinking too much alcohol:

  • The brain. When one drinks, even when one drinks in moderation, alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways. Alcohol affects the way the brain looks and works. The disruptions within the brain that are caused by alcohol lead to changes in mood and behavior. If one drinks too much and too often, such a habit can cause partially irreversible changes within the brain and alter the individual’s DNA.
  • The liver. It is no mystery that alcohol consumption takes a heavy toll on the liver. The liver is the organ responsible for processing alcohol and for breaking it down so it can be removed from the body. When a person drinks too much or too often, he or she can develop alcohol-related liver problems like steatosis, cirrhosis, fibrosis, and alcoholic hepatitis.
  • The pancreas. Alcohol harms the pancreas too. When one consumes alcohol, the chemicals in alcohol cause the pancreas to produce a toxic substance that can eventually lead to pancreatitis.
  • The heart. It is a well-known fact that alcohol consumption has a direct effect on heart health. Excessive drinking can cause cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, and high blood pressure.
  • Alcohol-related cancers. After much study, the National Toxicology Program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services listed alcohol as a known human carcinogen. That means alcohol has the potential to cause cancer. Some of the cancers that can be traced back to excessive alcohol consumption are head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer.

The above just skim the surface of the harms that alcohol can bring about in the human body. But last but not least, the NIAAA also lists alcohol as an “immunomodulator,” meaning that alcohol has a pronounced and negative effect on the immune system. Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, the flu, etc.

Whether one drinks too much on just one occasion or over time, all forms of excessive consumption take their toll on people’s lives. Not only should people not drink to excess, but some should consider not consuming alcohol at all. There are simply too many adverse physical and mental effects of drinking.

Helping Your Loved One with an Alcohol Addiction

Helping a loved one
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Given that alcohol misuse causes more preventable deaths than all drugs combined, those who know someone who struggles with an alcohol addiction should want their loved one to get clean and sober as soon as possible.

Thankfully, drug and alcohol rehab centers offer a workable and helpful methodology for freeing people from the grips of alcohol addiction. Residential treatment centers help people get to the bottom of their habits and effectively overcome them. Addiction treatment centers assist people in finding and addressing the core, underlying reasons why people turned to drugs and alcohol in the first place.

No one becomes an alcohol addict overnight. Alcohol addiction is the result of an individual’s attempts to cope with life crises or struggles. Rehab centers help such individuals find and address those crises and conflicts and work on them in a healthy, substance-free environment.

Help your loved one overcome alcohol addiction and effectively save their life in doing so. Contact Narconon today.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.