Heavy drinking can increase your risk of cancer, heart disease, and other serious illnesses.
But first, it can affect appearance — and that can make some people change their behavior.
Alcohol abuse can lead to wrinkles, brittle hair, a belly, and other undesirable traits.
Clinical psychologist Geri-Lynn Utter grew up in Kensington, Pennsylvania — one of the grittiest corners of Philadelphia — where her family ran a bar that opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 2 a.m. every day.
There, as a girl, Utter would watch potbellied factory workers show up to ease her hand tremors before their shift, come back at 3pm and leave after hours. They would come back the next day to rinse and redo.
now one Clinical psychologist working with people with addictions, Fully knows that alcohol use disorder falls on a spectrum. While some people look like those bar-goers with it, many look perfectly sane.
Others fall in between and acquire some undesirable physical traits due to the way alcohol affects all organs of the body. Insider spoke to Utter and other specialists about some telltale signs of alcohol abuse or abuse – and how to do it Change your patterns for better health and looks.
You may develop wrinkles earlier in life.
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means your body is losing water, leading to dehydration. And dehydrated skin tends to sag and wrinkle, DR Josef Volpicellia psychiatrist and addiction medicine specialist in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., told Insider.
“I have patients who have spent all their time getting botox or cosmetic surgery and all this money on lotions, but the real problem is in their wine rack,” he said.
Older-looking skin may also be related to how the body detoxifies alcohol: by recruiting certain nutrients and antioxidants to your liver at the expense of your skin, Lorna Driver-Davies, Senior Nutritional Therapist at wild diet, told refinery 29.
Alcohol also disrupts sleep, and poor sleep robs your face of valuable time to recover.
You have a ruddy face.
Utter remembers the men in her family’s bar – aptly nicknamed Utter Nonsense – as pink-faced. “It’s almost like the capillaries around your nose and cheeks are starting to burst,” she said.
That’s common among alcoholics, Volpicelli said, because alcohol is pro-inflammatory.
“When the skin becomes inflamed, a condition called rosacea develops,” he said. Rosacea is characterized by redness on the face, and sometimes ears back and chest. It can also develop into acne-like bumps.
In people with darker skin tones, it can show up as stinging or burning and sensitivity to topical products, as well as “darker or dark brown patches,” according to the dermatologist dr Justine Kluk said Refinery29.
While some medications and creams can help treat the condition, in the case of alcohol abuse, they are a band-aid for the underlying trigger.
Your hair and nails can become brittle.
Dehydration also affects your skin and nails, leaving them brittle and cracked, Volpicelli said. Long-term heavy drinking can even cause it hair loss and hair fallespecially in people who are malnourished because they consume almost all of their calories from alcohol.
“The right amount of vitamins, minerals, protein, fats and carbohydrates is essential for a healthy scalp and hair,” it says The Recovery Village Drug and Alcohol Rehaba network of substance abuse treatment centers.
You may have stained or yellow teeth.
If Annie Grace drank glasses, if not bottles, of wine every day, she would wake up with purple stains on her teeth. She would whiten her teeth, but she couldn’t keep up.
“It just wasn’t pretty,” Grace said in one of her videos for The 30 Day Alcohol Experimenther program that helps people reevaluate their relationship with alcohol.
Over time, heavy drinking can lead to more serious oral problems like gum disease, tooth decay, bad breath, and oral cancer.
Your stomach is out of proportion to the rest of your body.
Beer drinkers aren’t the only ones prone to beer bellies. Health-conscious alcoholic beverages such as vodka sodas can also lead to disproportionate abdominal weight if you drink enough of them.
That’s because alcohol in all its forms increases estrogen production and decreases testosterone production, which is linked to increased breast tissue and “breast obesity” — or fat around the middle — especially in men, Volpicelli said
Compared to the fat just under the skin throughout the body, Belly fat surrounds internal organs and is associated with a higher risk of serious medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and liver disease.
You can’t exhaust it either, said Volpicelli. “The problem isn’t in the gym, it’s in the fridge.”
As alcohol abuse progresses, the abdomen can become hard and bloated Fluid collection called ascites can be a sign of liver damage.
Your skin has a yellow tint.
Jaundice, or yellowish skin, is also a sign of liver disease.
It can occur when a yellow-orange substance in the blood can no longer be filtered out, causing it to show up in the skin. WebMD reports. in the dark skinned peopleit may be more noticeable in the whites of the eye.
“When you see that, it’s a really serious problem,” said Volpicelli.
If caught early enough, stopping drinking and other lifestyle changes may be possible treat liver disease. If not, a liver transplant is the only solution.
Before alcohol abuse gets that far, seek help — it’s okay if vanity gets you there.
“I could talk about all the horrific physical effects of alcohol in terms of the effects it has on the liver, brain and heart,” Volpicelli said, “but what drives people to seek treatment is that it makes them look older .”
Medication, psychotherapy, inpatient and outpatient treatment and even Online communities geared towards “grey area drinkers”. can help.
Nonprofit organizations like SMART recovery are free and expert recommended ways to sobriety and organizations like sunny side and how Alcohol change Britain Helping people to easily reduce their alcohol consumption.
“If you can have programs that get people into treatment earlier in their addiction, you can prevent a lot of really serious problems later on,” Volpicelli said.
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