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Alcoholism Causes

Alcoholism Causes: How Do Alcoholics Bodies Differ from the Non-alcoholics?

Alcoholics and Non-alcoholics differ because they do not process alcohol in the same way. When alcohol is consumed into the body it is converted to acetaldehyde in the liver. Acetaldehyde is a toxic substance that can be harmful to the body. For the normal drinker, the liver quickly coverts acetaldehyde into a substance called acetic acid. Acetic acid does not have the same toxic or harmful qualities as acetaldehyde. The body then converts acetic acid into carbon dioxide and water which is released through the body’s urinary and respiratory systems.

Alcoholics, on the other hand, do not process alcohol as effectively as non-alcoholics.  The alcoholic’s liver converts alcohol into acetaldehyde at twice the normal rate. At the same time, their ability to convert acetaldehyde into acetic acid is much slower than non-alcoholics. Consequently, the higher concentrations of acetaldehyde can damage liver cells, cause inflammation and exhaust the body’s immune system. The liver’s ability to absorb nutrients is compromised.

Unfortunately, the damage is not restricted to the liver. An abundance of acetaldehyde will eventually enter the bloodstream which can affect other organs in the body such as the heart or pancreas. It can also affect the brain. The brain, like most body organs, is vulnerable to injury from alcohol consumption. Acetaldehyde can block proper brain fucntion such as the firing of neurotransmitters which affect one’s mood, memory, and behavior.

To learn more about alcoholism in families, please click here.

©2011 Signsofalcoholism.org

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