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Many people are familiar with the immediate effects of alcohol consumption -- euphoria, slurred speech, exaggerated emotional states, dehydration, and slowed reaction time.
Over time, alcoholism leads the body to become more efficient at processing large amounts of alcohol, which leads to "tolerance" -- the necessity of consuming ever-increasing amounts to get the same high. This also increases nervous-system activity, leading the drinker to become irritable when not drinking.
In the long term, alcohol consumption can cause cell death and hardening of tissue in the liver (cirrhosis); reduction in brain mass; ulcers; blindness; high blood pressure, and lower sperm count in males.
Many alcoholics also do not get proper nutrition, and suffer various malnutrition-related ailments such as anemia. Also, alcoholics are more prone to falls and suffer greater rates of bruises and broken bones.