Effects of Alcohol on the Body: Short & Long-Term Effects

The harmful use of alcohol causes a high burden of disease and has significant social and economic consequences. By Geralyn Dexter, PhD, LMHC

Geralyn Dexter, PhD, LMHC, is a mental health counselor based in Delray Beach, Florida, with a focus on suicidal ideation, self-harm, help-seeking behavior, and mood disorders. There’s been an uptick in non-alcoholic drink options, as more and more companies are creating alternatives. A 2020 study found that when weekly drinkers were presented with and aware of increased non-alcoholic options, they were likely to choose them.

  • Though alcohol seems woven into the fabric of our social lives, drinking can have harmful health effects, even in small doses.
  • These conditions have very serious consequences, and can even manifest as heart attacks and strokes when blockages prevent blood flow to the brain or heart.
  • A common example of withdrawal is feeling a headache slowly develop when you forgo your morning coffee.
  • For example, it can cause liver damage — including cirrhosis — brain damage, heart failure, diabetes, cancer and susceptibility to infections (9, 54, 58, 72, 73, 74).

Alcohol misuse or alcohol use disorder is a pattern of drinking that can cause harm to a person’s health and social relationships. Drinking too much at one time or on any given day or having too many drinks over the course of a week increases the risk of harmful consequences, including injuries and health problems. Men should not have more than two drinks a day and women only one. Apart from the systemic manifestations which do affect a particular system of the body, there are various disorders in which alcohol indirectly provides its crucial contribution.

What Parts of the Body Does Alcohol Affect?

“This can increase the metabolism of alcohol in the liver. It can mean it is metabolised faster.” “Stress can also affect how quickly you get drunk as when you are more stressed you get an influx of different hormones in the body including the stress hormone cortisol. “People don’t really know why but I suspect it’s something to do with the fact that the more exposure to alcohol you have, the more the key enzymes that break down alcohol in your liver increase. Currently, the drink-drive limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in England and 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in Scotland. In this case, the liver uses an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase to convert the alcohol into what is actually a pretty toxic substance called acetaldehyde (sometimes the production of this substance is what can make you feel hungover).

effects of alcohol on the body

These effects might not last very long, but that doesn’t make them insignificant. Impulsiveness, loss of coordination, and changes in mood can affect your judgment and behavior and contribute to more far-reaching effects, including accidents, injuries, and decisions you later regret. Some of these effects, like a relaxed mood or lowered inhibitions, might show up quickly after just one drink. Others, like loss of consciousness or slurred speech, may develop after a few drinks. These really do go straight to your head – the bubbles speed up alcohol absorption, so limit the glasses of sparkling wine, fizzy cocktails and champagne. You can expect to experience symptoms for 24 hours, although it may take a little longer to feel like yourself again.

Detrimental Drinking Statistics

No-one would advocate excessive drinking, but there are times when even the best of us fall foul. Whether you’ve gone overboard, or can see a heavy night on the cards, follow our expert tips on how to recover from a hangover. Hart suggests starting the evening with a zero- or low-alcohol drink, then alternating consuming alcoholic drinks with water to avoid dehydration (and a hangover). “Imbalances in the https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/effects-of-alcohol-on-the-body-is-drinking-alcohol-bad/ gut biome are linked to gastritis, which causes the stomach lining to become inflamed, and fatty liver disease, which leads to fatty tissues affecting optimal digestive function,” she went on. The results also showed that consumption of different types of alcohol was linked to different metabolomic responses, with beer consumption generating a slightly weaker association overall than wine and liquor.

FASD can cause a range of neurodevelopmental and physical effects in the child after birth. NIAAA Director George F. Koob, Ph.D., said that as of May 2023, the institute is not aware of specific health guidelines on alcohol consumption for transgender or gender-nonconforming individuals. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has information on how alcohol impacts your health. It also has resources to help those looking to change their drinking habits.

Chronic Shakes and Tremors

Drinking alcohol over many years can start to negatively impact your pancreas and cause lasting health complications. Unfortunately, the early stages of many pancreatic conditions are often unfelt and therefore, left untreated. Every person is different; therefore, the effects of alcohol vary from person to person. While some people may be able to limit their drinking, others have a difficult time controlling their alcohol consumption. Heavy drinking can also increase your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, both of which are major risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.

However it happens, drinking means you need a sound to be louder so you can hear it. Your brain helps your body stay well-hydrated by producing a hormone that keeps your kidneys from making too much urine. But when alcohol swings into action, it tells your brain to hold off on making that hormone. That means you have to go more often, which can leave you dehydrated. When you drink heavily for years, that extra workload and the toxic effects of alcohol can wear your kidneys down. Alcohol irritates the lining of your stomach and makes your digestive juices flow.

Alcohol’s Effects on the Body

This increases the risk of falls, car crashes, and other accidents. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is a chronic brain disorder that makes it difficult to control alcohol use, even when it’s causing problems. Alcohol seldom leaves any system untouched as far as leaving its impression is concerned, spanning from single tissue involvement to complex organ system manifestations. Almost all the major organs that make up a human’s physiological being are dramatically affected by the overconsumption of alcohol. There is an enormous overall economic cost that is paid for alcohol abuse all over the world.

A comprehensive 2015 review found that alcohol use is one of the leading contributors to pancreatitis because it causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances. The pancreas is essential for breaking down enzymes and starches (like those in alcohol). When the pancreas becomes irritated and inflamed, you can develop pancreatitis. According to the experts, there is no safe level of drinking during pregnancy. Women who are trying to get pregnant or who already are pregnant should not drink.

Can you ‘cure’ a hangover?

Information on drinking levels as they are defined in the individual studies cited in this issue can be found in the original references. Through the ages, alcoholism has been undisputedly maintaining its position in the list of risk factors for https://ecosoberhouse.com/ preventable diseases in the world. According to a WHO report, 5.3% of all deaths that occurred worldwide in the year 2016 were because of harmful alcohol use [1]. It is the main culprit behind the advancing nature of many chronic diseases.

  • Over time, heavy drinking makes the organ fatty and lets thicker, fibrous tissue build up.
  • It’s the best way to replace the vitamins and minerals your body will have lost while it worked overtime to process the excess alcohol.
  • Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the medical diagnosis for prolonged and severe drinking that is causing problems in a person’s life.
  • Alcohol problems can happen to people from all walks of life at any age, and, each year, millions of people seek help for alcohol problems.
  • Because your brain is very sensitive to damage, chronic alcohol abuse may increase your risk of dementia and cause brain shrinkage in middle-aged and older adults (12, 13, 14, 15).
  • To your body, alcohol is a toxin that interrupts your immune system’s ability to do its job, thereby compromising its function.