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Alcohol's Long-Term Effects on the Body

            Although alcohol is generally seen as a harmless substance in our society, it is in reality a very damaging, addictive, and commonly abused drug. Long-term usage of this drug results directly in severe damage to the following main bodily areas: the circulatory system, central nervous system, fluid balances, motor skills, sexuality, sleep, fat storage, and nutrition.
             As it travels through the bloodstream, alcohol causes red blood cells to become abnormally large, and decreases the number of white blood cells, which are important for fighting infections. This results in a weakened immune system, placing alcoholics in more danger of contracting diseases. With increased and habitual use, alcohol can push blood pressure up to a hazardous level, while at the same time, increasing heart size. This leads to a weakened heart muscle, with greater chances of blood clots forming, and ultimately, a relatively good likelihood of a stroke occurring. .
             In the nervous system, alcohol acts as both a depressant and anesthetic. Although it is a depressant, alcohol initially creates a pleasant feeling of relaxation. Over time, the brain and nervous system become less sensitive to its effects, which means that a greater quantity must be consumed to produce the desired feeling. A greater alcohol intake begins to impair breathing and general reflexes, in addition to creating increased confusion of thinking and reasoning abilities. Eventually, heavy drinking will lead to brain atrophy and potentially death.
             Alcohol is a very potent diuretic, which means that it greatly increases the need to urinate. This can cause serious dehydration, and create imbalances in electrolytes. While dehydrated, a person is at greater risk for cramps and muscle damage, in addition to brain impairment. Dehydration results in a smaller appetite, leading to loss of muscle mass, which in turn leads to decreases in strength and overall performance.

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