Effects of Alcohol Addiction on Health

Effects of Alcohol Addiction on Health

You won't necessarily feel the effects of alcohol right away, but they begin as soon as you take your first sip.

You won't necessarily feel the effects of alcohol right away, but they begin as soon as you take your first sip. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, which slows the functions of the body and mind.

The short-term effects of lowered inhibitions, concentration difficulties, or wine headaches may not concern you too much. Over time, however, alcohol use can begin to negatively affect anyone's physical and mental health. You can suffer serious health problems if you drink too much.

Alcohol can affect your body in the following ways, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA):

Brain Health

Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can:

  • Change mood and behaviorMake it harder to think clearly
  • Make it harder to think clearly
  • Make it harder to move with coordination

Heart Health

Drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart, causing problems including:

  • Cardiomyopathy - stretching and drooping of heart muscle
  • Arrhythmias -iIrregular heart beat
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure

Liver Health

Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver, and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations including:

  • Steatosis, or fatty liver
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis

Pancreas Health

Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.


According to the National Cancer Institute there is a strong scientific consensus that alcohol drinking can cause several types of cancer. Based on data from 2009, an estimated 3.5% of cancer deaths in the United States (about 19,500 deaths) were alcohol related.

  • Head and neck cancer, including oral cavity, pharynx, and larynx cancers
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Liver cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer

Immune System Health

Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease. Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections – even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.

Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink much.

Finding Treatment for Alcoholism

The trained and compassionate counselors at Care Addiction Center are available 24/7 to help you with any questions you might have about treatment, starting with a free assessment.