Can Heavy Drinking Cause a Stroke?

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can heavy drinking cause a stroke

Most people know that alcohol can harm your liver, but is it true that heavy drinking can also cause a stroke?

To answer that question, we first need to learn what constitutes “heavy drinking.” The NIAAA has given us guidelines to help us determine how much alcohol is safe. The experts tell us that moderate drinking equates to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. Drinking more than this means putting your health at risk, including even having a stroke.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke is a health event that occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked. The blockage may be caused by a blocked artery or a ruptured artery. The result is the brain being deprived of oxygen and nutrients that are carried in the blood, causing cell death.

When someone has a stroke it is crucial that they obtain immediate medical intervention. Every minute counts, as brain cells continue to die unless there is medical help. Stroke can lead to paralysis and disability.

Symptoms of a stroke may include:

  • Sudden severe headache.
  • Sudden dizziness.
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, leg, or arm that often is limited to one side of the body.
  • Sudden mental confusion.
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech.
  • Sudden vision problem in one or both eyes.
  • Loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden trouble walking.

Does Heavy Drinking Cause Strokes?

Can heavy drinking cause a stroke? Heavy drinking is a risk factor for stroke because alcohol abuse causes increased blood pressure or hypertension. High blood pressure increases the risk of both types of stroke, ischemic strokes, and hemorrhagic strokes.

A study from France showed that heavy drinkers were likely to have a stroke fourteen years earlier than someone who was not a heavy drinker. Other factors cited that heavy drinkers also are more apt to be smokers.

What Causes Alcoholism?

The exact cause of alcoholism is still not known. It remains a mystery why one person becomes addicted to alcohol while another who drinks that same amount does not. Some risk factors are known, however. These include:

  • Genetics. People with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to have a drinking problem, too.
  • Exposure. People from households where heavy drinking is a common occurrence have a greater chance of following this behavior.
  • Early exposure. Drinking before age fifteen can increase the chances of later having a drinking problem by fivefold.
  • Mental health disorders. Those that struggle with depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder may drink to relieve the symptoms.
  • Life events. Those with a history of trauma, abuse, or neglect, or who experience loss and grief may turn to alcohol.

Signs of Alcohol Use Disorder

When alcohol takes control over your life, you will begin to notice these classic symptoms of an alcohol use disorder:

  1. You can’t control your drinking. Even when you try to cut back on your drinking you find that you cannot control consumption. Drinking becomes compulsive, which is a sign of addiction.
  2. You obsess about drinking. You begin to be obsessed with drinking. Your attention is focused on planning to drink, and having enough alcohol on hand. Also, much of your time is spent recovering from hangovers.
  3. Increased tolerance. Your system becomes more tolerant of the effects of alcohol. This causes you to increase consumption to achieve the desired effects.
  4. You become dishonest. You may lie about how much you are drinking. You hide bottles of alcohol around the house, at work, or in the car. You might steal money to buy alcohol, or steal the alcohol from a store.
  5. Ignoring obligations. As drinking escalates, you begin to neglect family and work responsibilities.
  6. You have money problems. Excess drinking can cause financial problems due to a job loss or DUI arrest.
  7. Your relationships suffer. Because your priority is drinking, your relationships begin to suffer.
  8. Withdrawal symptoms. When the effects of the alcohol wear off, you start to experience withdrawal symptoms. This indicates alcohol dependency or addiction.

Treatment Options for Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcoholism can be treated in either an inpatient or outpatient setting:

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Inpatient. An inpatient program involves living at the rehab for an extended period of time. This level of care is best for those with a long history of heavy drinking. These programs last 1-6 months on average. Inpatient programs are more intensive, with 24-hour support available and therapy throughout the week.

Outpatient. An outpatient program is less structured and allows you to reside at home while in treatment. Outpatient programs are best for a mild or emerging alcohol problem.

Alcohol rehabilitation involves changing the behaviors of addiction. During rehab, the various therapies help guide the person to change how they respond to stressors or triggers. These rehab elements include:

Psychotherapy: Therapists work with clients to assist them in changing thought distortions that have contributed to alcohol abuse. They will learn new ways to frame their thoughts, and better ways to manage stress.

Group sessions: Group therapy is at the heart of alcohol rehab, as it allows peers in recovery to discuss their personal experiences. Peer support offers a sense of belonging and safety.

12-step program: The Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program is often included in the treatment program. For those who prefer a different approach, there are other options, such as SMART Recovery.

Recreation therapy: Nutritional counseling and fitness are helpful in restoring health in recovery. Some rehabs provide recreational activities, such as golf, hiking, surfing, and more.

Holistic activities: Holistic treatment methods can be helpful in teaching the person how to relax and reduce stress. Yoga classes, massage, meditation, art or music therapy, and mindfulness are all helpful for managing stress.

Executive 7-Day Detox Addiction Recovery Services

Executive 7 Day Detox offers a highly effective program for helping people break the grip of alcohol addiction. If you are worried your heavy drinking can cause a stroke, it’s time to get some help. Reach out to our team today at (877) 959-7807.

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