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Many people have seen the physical issues that accompany alcohol use. However, not everyone is as well-versed in the mental effects of prolonged alcohol use. West Coast Recovery Centers is prepared to educate clients on these issues and what they may be able to do to heal.

What Constitutes Alcoholism?

When a person has an addiction to alcohol, they are said to struggle with alcoholism. However, the threshold often depends on the person. The one thing that links them is that they are addicted. This means that their drinking is uncontrollable and that they have a preoccupation with drinking. Alcoholism can also be classified as an inability for a person to control their drinking due to an emotional and/or physical dependence on alcohol.

What Constitutes Prolonged Alcohol Use?

A person struggling with prolonged alcohol use is often dependent for multiple years, if not decades. Some people are unable to give up their dependence on alcohol for any reason throughout their lives.  

Prolonged alcohol use can have devastating effects on a person’s mind, body, and the ways they interact with others. When a person is struggling with alcoholism, they often rely so heavily on their substances that they are unable to think about anything but their need for them.

These people will often have physical side effects should they attempt or be forced to go cold turkey. The side effects differ based on the individual and can include:

  • Tremors
  • Heavy sweating
  • Restlessness
  • Heart issues
  • Circulatory issues

These are some of the main physical side effects. However, the mental effects, even after treatment, may continue should the individual rely on alcohol for too long.

How Brain Chemistry Is Affected by Prolonged Alcohol Use

People who drink alcohol to excess on a regular basis are prone to a variety of mental side effects and issues. This is often due to shifts in brain chemistry and even brain degradation over time.

Mental health issues can be dealt with once the individual has gone through treatment and are able to distance themselves from their alcohol use. However, before this can happen, they may find that their mental health issues continue to compound the longer they give in to their addictions.

These mental side effects often build on each other, sometimes leading to disastrous consequences, including:

  • Mood swings
  • Negative emotions
  • Impaired memory
  • Combative behavior
  • Loss of inhibitions

Essentially, alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, leading to even more issues that will affect a person’s speech centers and judgment. These issues will create an atmosphere of continually poor decision-making whose snowball effect will touch all parts of their life.

Alcohol-Related Dementia

One of the most devastating effects of prolonged alcohol use is alcohol-related dementia related to brain damage. The symptoms are similar to that of other varieties of dementia, including:

  • Personality changes
  • Memory issues
  • Impaired learning
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Loss of social skills

The physical effects are also debilitating. However, it all begins with the degrading of one’s neural pathways due to alcohol use.

How Treatment Assists With the Effects of Prolonged Alcohol Use

For those struggling with prolonged alcohol use, there is always hope. Much like any substance use disorder (SUD), it is never too late to seek assistance. People may arrive at a point in their life where they believe themselves to be too far gone. This could not be further from the truth.

When individuals can admit they have a problem and are willing to seek assistance, programs such as the one at West Coast Recovery Centers are prepared to welcome them with open arms. The only prerequisite is that clients are ready to accept and work with the treatment program and treatment staff.


One of the first steps to recovery is complete detox. This involves purging alcohol from one’s system. For those with prolonged alcohol use, it is a trying process. There are physical and mental side effects, but the difference is that in a treatment program, the staff is there to assist. They may provide comfort as well as medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to help calm some of the more glaring side effects.

Individual Therapy

Once detox has been completed, it is important for clients to begin speaking with a trained therapist. In these sessions, they will get to the root of their alcoholism and establish what has kept them drinking and how it has/is affecting their life. This is often a difficult path because it involves admitting to one’s faults and confronting trauma. However, treatment programs are safe spaces where emotions and ideas can be expressed without the repercussions of the outside world.

Group Therapy

One of the best ways to approach alcohol recovery is by talking to other people who are in the same boat. This comes in the form of group therapy. In these moderated sessions, individuals will discuss their situations, present them to the group, and receive feedback from others who are going through similar issues.

This is another part of the program that forces people to express their vulnerability. The goal is to reestablish healthy social responses while understanding that they are not alone. Far too many people are going through the same problems, and it is important for people to know that they do not exist in a vacuum.


Once treatment has finished, clients must reenter society. This can be a difficult transition, and West Coast Recovery Centers is prepared to create a plan of care for each client. Often, a person will need specific pieces in place before leaving treatment. These include support networks, therapists, and even specific medications.

In the end, the goal is to show people with prolonged alcohol use that they are not alone, they can get help, and that it is never too late to take one’s mental health seriously.

West Coast Recovery Centers understands that many people are aware of the physical side effects of alcohol use. However, many clients are unaware of the possible mental effects that prolonged alcohol use can bring. It is important for our program and staff members to teach clients about what they may be doing to themselves should they continue down this path. In many cases, the effects are already appearing in the form of depression, anxiety, and exacerbation of traumatic thoughts. Our program aims to lift the veil on these unknown effects and educate clients to the best of our ability. Each client needs to understand where they are and where they may potentially end up. For more information, call (760) 492-6509.