The dangers of alcohol are somehow simultaneously well-known and not well-known at all. For example, most people are aware that alcohol is bad for the liver, or simply unhealthy in general. But very few people can tell you exactly why this is the case, or what alcohol does to us when it enters the body.
We strongly believe that if this information was more commonly known, we would drink much less alcohol as a society.
Whether this is true or not, being aware of what alcohol does to you will allow you to make more informed decisions about when, where and how much to drink.
With that in mind, we’ve broken down some of the ways alcohol affects us.
Let’s take a look:
Effects of Alcohol on the Body
Regular, chronic alcohol use dramatically increases your risk of cancer, especially of the oesophagus, throat, or mouth. Breast cancer has also been found to be more common in women who drink alcohol on a regular basis.
Alcohol also irritates your stomach lining and puts a lot of stress on your digestive system, which can lead to issues like:
- Stomach pain
- Stomach ulcers
Alcohol abuse can also lead to malnutrition since alcohol destroys your stores of vitamins and minerals and prevents you from properly absorbing more from your food.
Excessive alcohol abuse is also the leading cause of pancreatitis.
Effects of Alcohol on the Brain
Alcohol has a serious effect on the brain. For a start, it naturally suppresses our fight or flight response. This causes the brain to work harder to enact the response, which will be unnoticeable if you are drinking regularly as you are keeping it suppressed perpetually.
However, this will become immediately noticeable when you stop drinking, as your brain will continue acting on a higher level than natural when it comes to your fight or flight response, leading to withdrawal symptoms like the shakes, agitation, sweating and more.
The most severe cases of withdrawal can also lead to hallucinations, blackouts, changes in behaviour, mood swings, and the literal shrinking of the brain through damaged cells and neurotransmitters.
Of course, this is without mentioning that alcohol dependence itself is an effect on the brain caused by excessive drinking.
Other brain issues caused by alcohol can include:
Effects of Alcohol on Skin
Since we already know that alcohol dehydrates us, it should come as no surprise that alcohol also causes dry skin – it is the largest organ in our bodies, after all. Drinking also reduces our stores of vitamins and minerals, nutrients that are vital to keeping our skin healthy and beautiful.
Anyone who is interested in skincare is likely aware that dryness and lack of nutrition are two of the worst possible things for your skin. This combination of effects means that drinking alcohol regularly is almost certain to cause serious skin issues or even disorders such as rosacea.
This is without even going into the potential skin issues centred around going to sleep drunk without remembering to remove your makeup!
Effects of Alcohol on the Heart
Alcohol is the leading cause of heart damage and heart disease.
Just like alcohol suppresses and slows down the brain, it does the same to our hearts, in severe cases even slowing down the heart rate to dangerous levels.
This is in the short term and can happen on a single night if enough alcohol is drunk, but of course, this causes stress on the cardiovascular system, and regular drinking has major links to high blood pressure.
For somebody who is already at risk of heart disease due to internal damage or genetics, every single alcoholic drink is a massive risk.
Excessive drinking can also be a major cause of cardiomyopathy – the name given to the condition where the heart muscles are so damaged that the heart doesn’t work properly, or even irregular heartbeats.
These issues can lead to strokes and death with continued drinking.
Of course, since high blood pressure is the most common cause of a heart attack, it also goes without saying that alcohol can cause those too.
Effects of Alcohol on the Liver
The liver is the part of our body that’s responsible for filtering harmful substances out of the body and plays a major part in supporting our health. It goes without saying that regular drinking of alcohol seriously damages it and therefore leads to other nasty substances sticking around.
Drinking alcohol in the long term can also cause liver disease. This is unfortunately very difficult to detect until the organ is already seriously damaged, and symptoms can include:
- Loss of weight
- Vomiting blood
- Blood in stool
- Jaundice (yellowed skin)
Normally, the liver is capable of regenerating itself. Every time we drink alcohol, our liver gets damaged and loses some cells, but when we drink in moderation, it is able to replace them. However, long term drinking can prevent the liver from repairing itself, leading to cirrhosis, or a scarred and damaged liver that’s unable to properly filter out harmful substances.
Continuing to drink with cirrhosis will put you at a high risk of liver cancer.
Alcohol Effects on the Body
We hope this guide has helped you to better understand the extreme danger that regular alcohol abuse can put you in.
Our bodies are not designed to consume alcohol. They are also extremely advanced systems that are able to repair themselves and overcome the damage, but ongoing heavy alcohol use will always catch up with us eventually.
If you or a loved one are struggling to control your alcohol drinking habits, why not contact us now?
We offer the UK’s most successful home detox service, giving you full access to alcohol detox medications, contact with GPs and nurses, CBT sessions, support groups and more, all from the comfort and safety of your own home!