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the effects of alcohol

The Effects Of Alcohol

Addiction to alcohol is one of the most difficult of all substance use disorders to treat,

particularly because it’s one of the few substances that is perfectly legal to consume, making its consumption an acceptable act in many social and societal circles. Even though alcohol use is legal (if you are of age) and acceptable, we know that prolonged and/or excessive use can have very serious and harmful effects, just like any other addictive substances. Due to the acceptability of alcohol use, many people don’t realize just how harmful the effects of alcohol can be on a person’s mind, body, and important relationships in their life. We will explore the harmful effects of alcohol so you can better understand the detriment related to this readily consumed substance.

Short-Term Effects Of Alcohol

As soon as the consumption of alcohol begins, the short-term effects of alcohol start to work on the brain. In a previous article on Why Alcohol Is Addictive?, we learned that when you drink alcohol it chemically stimulates the release of dopamine and endorphins which produce feelings of ecstasy and pleasure, but the same dulling effects can also produce and lead to the following:

Short-Term Effects:

  • Impairment in cognitive function can lead to injuries suffered most from motor vehicle accidents, falls, fights, drownings, and burns.
  • If enough alcohol is consumed, these instances could result in alcohol poisoning, requiring medical emergency teams to assist when blood alcohol levels reach dangerous limits.
  • Lastly, the euphoric and misguided effects of alcohol tend to get patients in precarious situations involving risky sexual behavior, promiscuity, and unprotected sex, increasing the potential of unplanned pregnancy or transmitting of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Long-Term Effects Of Alcohol

The short-term effects of alcohol are nothing to underestimate. Car accidents alone involving the consumption of alcohol lead to roughly 32 people killed every day in the United States alone. It’s anguishing to think about, but what doesn’t get talked about enough are the even more fearful long-term effects of alcohol which go on to impact more ever major bodily system.

Long-Term Effects:

  • Continuously drinking alcohol over long periods of time can damage the heart, increasing the potential for cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias, strokes, and high blood pressure.
  • Drinking overtime will also take a heavy toll on the liver, increasing the potential for steatosis (or fatty liver), alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis.
  • The consumption of alcohol can cause the pancreas to produce toxic substances that may eventually lead to pancreatitis, which is the dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
  • Excessive and long-term drinking can also lead to a weakened immune system, making the body more susceptible to diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis or even infections such as common colds and the flu.
  • Perhaps the most concerning relatable effect of all is cancer. The National Cancer Institute has found strong scientific consensus that suggests the more you drink the more likely you are to develop forms of cancer which include:
    • Head and neck Cancer
    • Oral cavity Cancer
    • Pharynx Cancer
    • Larynx Cancer
    • Esophageal Cancer
    • Liver Cancer
    • Breast Cancer
    • Colorectal Cancer

Social Effects Of Alcohol

Alcohol addiction is  life-threatening. Lives are lost daily, and those that survive find that major life areas have been eaten away at over time. The impacts of alcohol abuse effects beyond the physical can be just as impactful.

Social Effects:

  • Alcoholism is typically developed with underlying issues, which will only become more accentuated while under the influence of alcohol and without receiving treatment. This can lead to the increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
  • Addiction to any substance, sets you on a path to putting something (drugs, objects, alcohol or situations) ahead of areas in your life that should be prioritized. Alienating family, friends, work, and other areas of one’s social life can lead to irreparable damage to one’s life, a loss of family, support, impact leading to the involvement of child services, divorce, incarceration and potentially unemployment.

We hope you found this information helpful and hope that you know a bit more about the vast effects of alcohol. If you or a loved one needs any additional assistance with addiction treatment services, please reach out to Long Island Center for Recovery at 631-728-3100, and we’d be happy to assist you or your loved ones in any way possible.


NIH: Alcohol’s Effects on Health

CDC: Alcohol Use and Your Health

World Health Organization
Global status report on alcohol and health—2018

Alpert HR, Slater ME, Yoon YH, Chen CM, Winstanley N, Esser MB.
Alcohol consumption and 15 causes of fatal injuries: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Naimi TS, Lipscomb LE, Brewer RD, Colley BG.
Binge drinking in the preconception period and the risk of unintended pregnancy: Implications for women and their children

Wechsler H, Davenport A, Dowdall G, Moeykens B, Castillo S.
Health and behavioral consequences of binge drinking in college

Rehm J, Baliunas D, Borges GL, Graham K, Irving H, Kehoe T, et al.
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International Agency for Research on Cancer. Personal Habits and Indoor Combustions: A Review of Human Carcinogens, Volume 100E 2012.

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what alcohol does to your kidneys
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