Alcoholism Effects on the Body

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : JANUARY 14, 
| 3 Sources

Numerous studies have been conducted regarding alcoholism effects on the body. While some research indicates that the effects of alcohol on the body can be beneficial for a moderate drinker, there’s no question that regular, heavy consumption can result in a variety of health issues.

Moderate is defined here as no more than one drink a day for women, and two for men; and the positive benefits are only obtained by people who are not abusing alcohol at other times, and those who do not have pre-existing physical illnesses.

Alcoholism Effects on the Body – How We Process Alcohol

When you drink alcohol 20% of it goes directly into the bloodstream. From here it reaches the brain in about one minute, and on to the liver. Here the liver metabolizes the alcohol in lieu of its normal function – metabolizing fatty acids.

This in turn (over time) contributes to the risk of liver damage. The liver cannot process more than ½ ounce of alcohol an hour, meaning any excess continues to travel the body until the liver can handle it.

Alcoholism Effects on the Body – Part by Part

There are numerous other effects of alcohol on the body. For example, heavy drinkers tend to loose a healthy appetite, which also affects nutrition and metabolism. While alcohol has sugar, it contains no beneficial vitamins or minerals.

Alcoholics often exhibit a lack of vitamin A, C, B6, D, and Iron.

Brain: Long term heavy drinking changes brain chemistry. Alcohol appears to lessen brain tissue and also deprive the brain of necessary vitamins. The most common result from this is forgetfulness.

Heart: Dietary neglect causes weakening of the heart.

Liver: Alcohol in large amounts kills liver cells until the liver can no longer repair itself. The end result should a person continue to drink is Cirrhosis.

Stomach: alcohol irritates the stomach lining.

Reproductive Systems: Heavy drinking can lead to sexual dysfunction in men, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and lowered sexual appetite in women. Babies born to alcoholic mothers are at risk for any number of physical and mental conditions (FAS).

Weight: Alcohol is high in carbohydrates, meaning heavy drinkers may struggle with weight problems that also, in turn, affect the heart, back, etc.

Alcoholism Effects on the Body – Disease Risk

The lack of good nutrition caused by heavy drinking can lead to many other diseases including arthritis, heart disease, kidney and liver disease, neuropathy, and weight and psychological disorders.

With this in mind, if you’re going to drink, it’s best to do so moderately, drinking slowly with food and plenty of water. This approach lessens the overall effects of alcohol on the body.

Other Facts: Alcoholism Effects on the Body

Each person reacts a little different to long term drinking, so the effects of alcohol on the body are often unique to the individual. Because alcohol is a depressant, the drinker’s thoughts, reflexes and actions slow down.

These effects of alcohol on the body manifest more quickly in women and smaller individuals. It’s also the key reason that people should never drink and drive no matter how little they’ve consumed.

In the long haul, alcohol may damage any number of organs, increasing the risk of stroke and ulcers. Alcohol doesn’t react well with various prescription medications, and is dangerous with even over-the-counter drugs.

If you are taking regular medication, always check to see if the label has an alcohol warning. 

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

More than alcoholism effects on the body on our alcoholism stages page

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