Sorting out the health effects of alcohol

This makes speech and coordination — think reaction time and balance — more difficult. That’s one major reason why you should never drive after drinking. If your body can’t manage and balance your blood sugar levels, you may experience greater complications and side effects related to diabetes. Alcohol use can begin to take a toll on anyone’s physical and mental well-being over time. These effects may be more serious and more noticeable if you drink regularly and tend to have more than 1 or 2 drinks when you do. Young men and women in this age group are also at risk of drinking-related injury, property damage, date rape, and unsafe sex while under the influence of alcohol.

  • Because there is no known safe level of alcohol for a developing baby, women who are pregnant or might be pregnant should not drink.
  • Total alcohol per capita consumption in 2016 among male and female drinkers worldwide was on average 19.4 litres of pure alcohol for males and 7.0 litres for females.
  • Some of these effects, like a relaxed mood or lowered inhibitions, might show up quickly after just one drink.
  • The rising rates of severe morbidity and mortality from ALD underscore a pressing need to screen patients for heavy drinking, assess for AUD, and recommend evidence-based AUD treatment.

It is when the amounts consumed increase consistently and tolerance develops that problems may start to occur. Alcohol abuse can lead to dependence, diagnosed as alcohol use disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). Long-term effects of alcohol abuse and dependence include domestic violence, driving under the influence, and other forms of destructive behavior. Diabetes and cognitive impairment are two possible long-term effects of alcohol. Chronic consumption of liquor leads to a higher risk of developing diabetes. It causes obesity, because alcohol is very high in calories, and damages the pancreas, which secretes insulin.

Side Effects of Alcoholism: Long and Short-Term Outcomes of Alcohol Consumption

The rate of alcohol-related emergency department visits increased by nearly 50 percent from 2006 to 2014, and about one-third of injuries treated at trauma centers are alcohol related. In addition, a significant number of sexual assaults involve alcohol use. Find out how many people have alcohol use disorder in the United States across age groups and demographics.

  • Alcohol in the form of ethanol, also called ethyl alcohol, is in alcoholic beverages.
  • Alcohol dependence is a condition characterized by a strong and compulsive need to drink alcohol to the point that it interferes with everyday life or leads to health problems.
  • In Australia, alcoholic beverages are required by law to state the approximate number of standard drinks they contain on the label.
  • In The Recovery Village’s comprehensive alcohol survey, heavy drinkers were 96% more likely than their peers to report a negative impact on their abilities as parents due to alcohol.
  • Long-term drinking is much more dangerous to women’s health – women are more likely to die of cirrhosis or suffer from brain disease, heart disease, or breast cancer.

Alcohol puts the brakes on your body’s defenses, or immune system. Your body can’t make the numbers of white blood cells it needs to fight germs. So for 24 hours after drinking too much, you’re more likely to get sick. Long-term heavy drinkers are much more likely to get illnesses like pneumonia and tuberculosis. 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. Understanding how alcohol affects the mind, body, and overall health can help you make the most informed decisions about your consumption habits.