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Alcohol Addiction

EtOH Abuse: Side Effects, Withdrawal, & How to Get Help For An Addiction to EtOH

Side Effects, Withdrawal, & How To Get Help For An Addiction To EtOH

What is EtOH, and What Are the Symptoms of EtOH Abuse?

EtOH is the academic notation for ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, the same kind of ethanol found in alcoholic beverages, gasoline, and even academic and medical research. It is one of the universal solvents and is even used as an antiseptic in some situations. Even though it is used in countless other industries and applications, the primary use of EtOH is in alcoholic beverages like beer, wine, and hard liquor.

It is these beverages that are the basis for all EtOH abuse. EtOH is an extremely strong central nervous system depressant. This means it is the primary factor in why alcohol is so dangerous. It is such a powerful nerve agent that it can significantly slow the respiratory system to potentially catastrophic rates.

EtOH abuse’s effects on cognitive functions, motor skills, memory, and more have been well-documented. It has also been shown to contribute to the slow but marked deterioration of nearly every system in the body. EtOH abuse is also a significant factor in an individual’s susceptibility to outside infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and possibly even COVID variants.

Side Effects of EtOH Abuse

Many side effects stem from EtOH abuse, and they can begin to become visible after only a short period. Some short-term side effects will be visible in just weeks. In contrast, some of the most severe long-term side effects may not be readily apparent until after the individual has abused EtOH for years or even decades. Most are reversible if the individual seeks treatment in time. However, some of the long-term effects of EtOH abuse may permanently affect the individual that cannot be recovered.

The short-term side effects of EtOH abuse often include not only the physiological and mental side effects but also the propensity and potential for serious injury while under the influence of EtOH. These situations can include car accidents, injuries from loss of coordination such as trips and falls, accidents at work, and even drownings. Other indications of potential EtOH intoxication might include disorientation, emotional instability, bloodshot and partially closed eyes, slurred speech, anxiety, and irritability.

The long-term side effects of abusing EtOH will often include some or all of the following:

  • Damage to the cerebellum, limbic system, and cerebral cortex, much of which may be irreversible.
  • A specific type of brain damage that occurs in severely addicted individuals called the Wet Brain.
  • Creation of, or contribution to, any number of mental disorders, including depression, bipolar, antisocial personality disorder, and anxiety.
  • Intense liver damage, including inflammations, fatty liver, cirrhosis, fibrosis, and even alcoholic hepatitis.
  • Long-term EtOH abuse is one of the main causes of heart disease.
  • Stretching out of the heart muscle called cardiomyopathy.
  • Additional heart problems caused by sending the heart alcoholic blood include arrhythmias, stroke, and elevated blood pressure.
  • The pancreas creates a toxic by-product when it is given EtOH, and it may also develop a harmful swelling of the blood vessels that surround the organ, which can lead to pancreatitis and is potentially deadly if not addressed properly
  • The high blood pressure that EtOH abuse causes can create or worsen kidney disease as they become overworked.
  • Alcohol messes up the digestive process and causes the stomach to pump out excess acid, leading to painful reflux and gastritis.
  • Other alcohol-derived digestive issues include chronic vomiting, internal bleeding, bleeding ulcers, and chronic diarrhea.
  • Long-term EtOH abuse may even lead the stomach to such trauma that the individual develops stomach cancer.

Once EtOH abuse has been established for an individual, it often becomes their sole focus and is an all-consuming activity. It will eventually lead to increasingly significant problems at home, as well as at work or school. It allows the individual suffering from EtOH abuse to be complacent with the damage it is causing in their life, which is why it can be incredibly difficult but crucial to convince them to stop drinking and speak to someone about a detox program.

If they agree to get help for their EtOH abuse, it can be the most important decision they make about their health. Once the acute withdrawal stage is over and the detox is behind them, the recovering individual can focus more on understanding their triggers and what leads them to EtOH abuse. Then they can learn the right tools for avoiding or dealing with those future triggering situations.

How to Get Help if Abusing EtOH

If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to EtOH, it’s not too late to reach out for help. You don’t want to waste more time when sobriety is right around the corner. Therefore, it’s important to seek help from a professional, either your primary care physician or a drug and alcohol addiction facility. The team you work with at a rehabilitation facility can help you safely detox as well as help you get to the root cause of your addiction, treating any underlying issues so that you can stay clean in the future.

Take the next step and reach out for help today. You deserve to live a happy life, free from the chains of addiction.


Ocean Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial policy.

1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drinking too much alcohol can harm your health. Learn the facts | CDC. Published April 14, 2022. Accessed July 30, 2022.

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Last medically reviewed July 30, 2022.