Why Does Alcohol Affect the Heart?
Most of us know that overdoing it with alcohol can cause health problems. However, there are plenty of longtime alcoholics who don’t even think about that. It’s not something I ever thought about until I began experiencing serious health complications.
I remember my grandfather complaining a lot about chest pains near the end of his life. He was a lifelong drinker himself and didn’t put a lot of thought into his health. He ended up dying from alcoholic cardiomyopathy. He had a number of other issues going on including diabetes and alcohol-induced gastritis.
A Family History of Alcoholic Heart Conditions
You’d think watching him drink himself to death would’ve stopped me, but it didn’t. I became a heavy drinker myself and was in and out of trouble all through my younger years. Drunk driving charges, disorderly conduct, I was a mess for a long time.
I began dabbling with other drugs during this time, and excessive drinking also led me to pick up smoking. I’ve known a lot of people who started smoking because of alcohol. Smoking when drunk is pretty common due to alcohol increasing the craving to smoke. It’s just like mixing any other drugs. One enhances the other.
Should Alcohol Consumption Cause Chest Pains?
The short answer is: it depends on your consumption. The fact of the matter is if you drink heavily, you are going to experience some type of health difficulty. A lot of factors are in play. When it comes to chest pain, there are many causes of chest pain after drinking. Alcohol has a great effect on the heart. There is a direct link between alcohol and heart attack risk.
Alcohol temporarily increases heart rate and blood pressure. When you drink, the alcohol enters the bloodstream and is released into various parts of the body. Long-term alcohol consumption can lead to high blood pressure and weakened heart muscles.
Side Effects of Alcohol Consumption
There are a lot of additional alcohol side effects that may not be as severe. Heartburn from alcohol consumption. Alcohol typically contains a lot of sugar which can take longer for your body to break down. We’ve all had uncomfortable heartburn before. Imagine having it on a consistent basis.
Other uncomfortable side effects of alcohol include organ stress and damage, pancreatitis, and dehydration. There is also a link between acid reflux and alcohol. Alcohol is known to contribute to acid reflux due to its interaction with your esophagus.
Alcohol and Atrial Fibrillation
Another scary side effect of alcohol abuse is atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is a rapid, irregular heartbeat, commonly referred to as ‘afib’. This is commonly referred to as holiday heart. It’s important to understand the holiday heart and its risks. Everyone seems to overdo it around the holidays. We overdo it with food and alcohol.
Doctors tend to see more cases of ‘afib’ around the holiday season. The bottom line is that a lot of bad things can happen from excessive alcohol intake. Alcohol toxicity (commonly referred to as alcohol poisoning) is a very common occurrence and is most often deadly.
Seeking Treatment For Alcohol
Even if you know you have a drinking problem, getting help is not as easy as it may seem. A lot of people try to get help to save their job or marriage. The truth is, unless you truly want to do it for yourself, it probably won’t work. Recovery is an ongoing process and is something that has to be maintained.
You don’t just get sober and then never have to put any effort into it. You get out of it what you put in. If you put in the work, sobriety can be a very rewarding thing.
Find Your Reason for Getting Sober
We all have different reasons that help us get clean. Finding recovery for your heart is one of the most common reasons. As you get older, you start paying more attention to your mortality. Especially when the things you once enjoyed begin giving you health issues. I would wake up almost every day with ‘hangxiety’ and chest pains. Hangxiety refers to the anxiety that can occur over getting a hangover. Worrying about whether or not you will be hungover can be very distressing and can easily make your situation worse.
How Can I Cure my Hangxiety?
First, we have to know, can you cure hangxiety in general? From my research, it seems that the best you can do is figure out why you are having it in the first place. I know that alcohol makes me anxious, but it is much more than that. My anxiety and my drinking are rooted in something deeper within me. I used to ask myself why alcohol gave me anxiety, instead of asking myself why I needed to drink so much.
It turned out I was trying to hide the pain and suffering that I was going through my entire life. I had a rough upbringing and didn’t have both of my parents. My father was in and out of prison, and my mother was often homeless and unable to take care of me or my siblings. Both of my parents had problems with alcohol. Was it any surprise that I would end up this way myself?
Anxiety and Hangover Guilt
Hangover guilt is another common feeling that drinkers who suffer from anxiety will experience. A lot of us who binge drink wake up not remembering the events from the previous day or night. We instantly began worrying about what transpired. Did I say or do something I shouldn’t have? Did I call anybody and leave an embarrassing voice message? A bunch of these questions comes to mind, and they feed your feelings of anxiety.
I know that if I overdo it, which I used to do frequently, I would usually feel pretty guilty about it. We tell ourselves that we won’t overdo it, and when we do, we beat ourselves up about it. We find it hard to forgive ourselves. It just points to the fact that you probably don’t have any control over your drinking.
It took me a long time to realize that I needed help. I knew I needed to change my habits. I couldn’t go another night with alcohol making me anxious. I couldn’t go another day feeling like death. I had more to deal with than just my drinking. I was not in a good place mentally after suffering from hangxiety day in and day out.
I needed to do something. I checked myself into treatment through the Pathfinders Recovery Center and began to put my life back together. It wasn’t easy, but it was the only thing that was going to fix my issues.
Regain Control with Alcohol Treatment
It’s common to experience anxiety and depression days after binge drinking. Alcohol alters our mental state, and it can take a while for our brain to recover. Feelings of anxiety and depression after drinking are very common. After all, alcohol is a depressant.
It slows down our brains and impairs our cognitive functions. When you aren’t drinking, you have to face the effects that come with it. It’s very similar to what a drug addict feels when they can’t get the drug. Remember, alcohol is not only a drug but probably the most abused drug of all of them.
Because of the level of my anxiety, I was pretty nervous about detox. I felt the same feelings of anxiety that I felt when I was hungover. I just tried to tell myself that this would give me the positive result that drinking didn’t. It was going to be uncomfortable, but I was going to have something to show for it when all was said and done.
That helped curb my anxiety and put me in the place where I needed to get better. The people at Pathfinders did everything they could to make me feel comfortable during such an uncomfortable process. They did an amazing job of getting me through that initial struggle.
The children of alcoholics usually suffer at some point in their lives. They often develop anxiety, depression, and addictions of their own. It is a cycle that isn’t easily broken. Once we get too far into an addiction, we often think we are beyond being saved. We are the way we are and that’s that. There’s no fixing it. Meeting other folks in recovery helps a lot. I met so many people in group therapy who drank for decades. They assumed there was nothing that could be done. Once your body and mind have gone through years of damage, you think there’s no reversing it.
Listening to other people’s stories made me understand that this cycle can be broken no matter where you are in your struggle. You can be an addict for years and still quit. It all comes down to you wanting it bad enough. I used to think I wanted to get clean, but it took me a long time before I wanted it bad enough to go through with it.
We like the idea of being sober and leaving all that suffering behind, but you have to put in the work. It’s a practice that takes time and effort. Once you get sober, it doesn’t mean the process is over. It’s a daily struggle sometimes, but one you will be well equipped to deal with the following treatment. Reach out to the folks at Pathfinders Recovery Centers today to get started, and let your own hangxiety become a thing of the past!