Harmful Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Learn about all the harmful effects of alcohol on the body and avoid an addiction or tragedy.

Alcohol can be one of the most dangerous substances to abuse. The drug affects GABA neurotransmitters in the brain, which causes a person to experience feelings of intoxication. However, this effect can also affect a person’s memory, mood, behavior, and more. The liver also must filter the alcohol, and it can only filter a certain amount on a regular basis. When it cannot filter enough, the results can be damage to the liver as well as toxins that build up in the body, affecting the heart and other vital organs. If a person suffers from alcohol addiction, binge drinking, or other forms of alcohol abuse, it is important that they seek rehabilitation to avoid the damaging alcohol effects on the liver.

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Drinking alcohol to excess can immediately affect a person’s thinking, walking, and memory. Also, drinking can cause impulsive behavior, which can lead to dangerous decisions. This includes driving while intoxicated, engaging in risky sexual behaviors, and being at greater risk for falls and other injuries. All of these can increase the risk that a person could become seriously injured or even die as a result of an accident.

According to the National Institutes of Health, drinking excessively for even one night can depress a person’s immune system for up to 24 hours after a person is drunk. A person who is intoxicated on a daily basis is at increased risk for infections, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Continued and long-term effects of alcohol abuse can cut a person’s life short by an average of 30 years, according to Harvard Health Publications. The highly damaging effects of alcohol abuse on the body mean that a person must take steps as quickly as possible to stop

  • Effects on the liver: The liver can no longer effectively break down alcohol in the body after years of alcohol abuse. This can result in inflammation, which causes jaundice, and damage, which causes cirrhosis. Ultimately, a person cannot live if their liver will not work effectively.
  • Increased cancer risk: Alcohol essentially acts like an irritant to the esophagus when a person drinks it. It can “burn” the throat when a person drinks it, eventually becoming carcinogenic to a person. This can increase the likelihood that a person will experience some type of cancer, such as of the esophagus, tongue, and throat.
  • Stomach damage: Alcohol irritates the stomach lining, making it difficult for a person’s body to absorb key nutrients. As a result, a person struggling with alcoholism is often very malnourished. A person can also experience stomach ulcers.
  • Heart problems: Long-term alcohol abuse causes inflammation in the arteries that can affect the heart. The result can be an irregular heartbeat, enlarged heart, and an increased risk for strokes.
  • Brain problems: Alcohol causes a release of dopamine in the brain. This neurotransmitter affects a person’s memory, movement, and can even lead to coma.

The effects of alcohol on the body can impact almost every body part. If a person needs another reason to quit abusing alcohol, these long-term and potentially deadly effects can ideally be an incentive to quit.

Getting Help for Alcohol Treatment

When a person suffers from alcohol abuse, it’s important that they quit drinking, but that they do so in a medical environment. This is because the abrupt stopping of drinking alcohol can cause a person to experience significant side effects, including a disease called the delirium tremens or DTs. This condition can cause seizures and hallucinations that can be deadly. At a facility for medical detox, a person can receive assistance and medical treatments to keep this condition from occurring whenever possible.