Dangers Of Alcohol

Drinking alcohol is the second most popular influencing substance in the U.S., after tobacco. But the dangers of alcohol are quite numerous.

How common is alcohol use?

The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that 86% of Americans aged 18 and older have used alcohol at some point in their lives [1].

Even though many people see alcohol as a joyful, pleasant, and social beverage, excessive or chronic, long-term drinking can lead to alcoholism (an alcohol use disorder).

In addition to cognitive and mental health issues, chronic alcohol use can lead to depression and anxiety as well as adversely affect learning and memory [2,3].

It is possible to become addicted to alcohol because of a lack of control over one’s drinking or a desire to consume more alcohol to achieve the same effect as before. When this occurs, one is more likely to suffer from alcoholism, which can be extremely dangerous.

An excessive intake of alcoholic beverages negatively impacts everyone’s life. It all depends on your consumption, health, age, and other factors.

Overconsumption of alcoholic beverages can have negative short- and long-term consequences [4]. The health and well-being of you and those around you can be adversely affected.

Even if you don’t consume alcohol regularly, you are certainly familiar with the unpleasant side effects, such as headaches from wine or the feeling of being groggy the next morning. 

It’s common for people to assume that a few glasses of wine and beer at mealtimes or on special occasions isn’t a big deal. However, even a small amount of alcohol use might have negative health effects [5].

What are the dangers of drinking alcohol?

Because each person is unique, the dangers of alcohol will vary from one to the next. Others have a hard time keeping themselves from overindulging in alcohol, while others can restrict their intake.

Knowing what makes a drink is essential to completely comprehending the ramifications of drinking. Among the many alcoholic beverages available, here are a few examples:

  • 12 ounces of beer, or about 5 percent alcohol by volume
  • About 7 percent alcohol in 8-9 fluid ounces of malt liquor
  • Five ounces of wine have an alcohol content of about 13%.
  • Forty percent alcohol in 80-proof distilled spirits such as vodka, tequila, and whisky; approximately 1 and 1/2 fluid ounces.

The amount of alcohol drunk, an individual’s medical history, tolerance to alcohol, and other legal or illicit substances mixed with alcohol can all influence the dangers of alcohol.

Please seek treatment right away if you or someone you love is suffering from the negative effects of alcohol. See if there are any alcohol rehabilitation clinics near you by speaking with a treatment provider.

Effects of alcohol on the body:

Many people love having a drink. Alcohol is, in fact, the most often used social drug in Western countries. Alcohol, like all drugs, can be harmful to your health, especially if you consume large quantities regularly. Certain diseases, including cancer, can be connected to even tiny levels of alcohol consumption.

Many things happen to your body when you drink alcohol. Some of the impacts are short-lived, but they can substantially impact your physical and mental well-being and quality of life over time.

The amount of harm alcohol does to your body, your drinking habits, and even the quality of the alcohol all play a role. The size and structure of your body, age, drinking history, genes, diet, metabolism, and even social background all have a role.

wine glass spilling red wine on white surface

How alcohol affects the brain:

Alcohol alters the way the brain appears and functions by interfering with the communication routes in the brain [6].

It is difficult to think clearly and move with coordination when these disturbances occur, and they might alter mood and behavior.  

Alcohol effect on the heart:

Excessive drinking can damage the heart, whether over a long period or in a single incident. The following are some dangers of alcohol for the heart:

  • Cardiomyopathy (a term used to describe the condition of the heart’s muscle being stretched and weakened).
  • Irregular heartbeats, known as arrhythmias
  • Stroke [7]
  • An abnormally high blood pressure level

What does alcohol do to the liver?

Overdrinking alcohol is bad for your liver and can cause several issues and inflammations [8], such as the following:

  • liver steatosis or fatty liver
  • Histoplasmosis alcoholics
  • Fibrosis
  • Cirrhosis

Dangers of alcohol for pancreas:

Drinking alcohol causes the pancreas to create toxic compounds that may lead to pancreatitis [9], a serious inflammation and swelling of the pancreatic blood vessels that inhibit digestion.

Alcohol and cancer:

Several forms of cancer have been linked to excessive drinking of alcohol [10]. The National Toxicology Program of the United States Department of Health and Human Services identifies alcohol intake as a recognized human carcinogen in its carcinogen report.

Those who drink too much alcohol are more likely to acquire alcohol-related cancer, particularly those who drink a lot of alcohol daily.

One drink a day for women and five or more for men is enough to raise the risk of various malignancies, even in those who don’t binge drink (consuming four or more for women and five or more for males).

Certain kinds of cancer have been linked to an increased risk of alcohol consumption:

  • Oral cavity [11], pharynx, and larynx cancers are all examples of head and neck malignancies.
  • Squamous cell carcinomas of the esophagus, in particular.
  • In addition, drinking alcohol increases the risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in persons who have a deficit in an enzyme that breaks down alcohol.
  • Hepatitis B and C
  • Study after study has indicated an increase in the risk of breast cancer among women who drink more alcohol [12]. The breast cancer risk for women who drink one drink day or less is 5 to 9 percent higher than for those who don’t drink.
  • Cancer of the bowels (colorectal)

Dangers of alcohol to immune system:

Overdrinking alcoholic beverages can compromise your immune system [13], making you more vulnerable to illness. Pneumonia and TB are more common among heavy drinkers than in general. Even 24 hours after a heavy drinking session, your body’s ability to fight off infection is slowed.

What is Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)?

The BAC (blood alcohol concentration) determines the intoxicating effects of alcohol on a person’s brain and body. It’s easier to drink more alcohol when you have a higher tolerance.

A wide range of adverse effects, ranging from small inconveniences to life-threatening emergencies, might occur depending on your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

Lower BAC percentages, for example, often result in short-lived but unpleasant side effects. However, the symptoms get more severe and even life-threatening as the BAC percentage rises [14].

Alcohol use disorders:

Alcohol intoxication happens as the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream grows. The more intoxicated you are, the more difficult it is to function normally. When someone is under the influence of alcohol, it can lead to behavioral and mental changes.

A few of these symptoms are inappropriate behavior, mood swings, impaired judgment, slurred speech, lapses in attention or memory, and a lack of coordination.

A “blackout” is when you have no recollection of previous occurrences. Very high blood alcohol levels might lead to unconsciousness or even death.

Alcohol withdrawal can occur when alcohol usage has been heavy and extended and discontinued or considerably decreased.

Symptoms can develop after several hours to several days. Symptoms include sweating, rapid heartbeat, hand tremors, trouble sleeping, nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, restlessness and agitation, anxiety, and seizures. You may experience severe symptoms that impair your ability to perform at work or in social circumstances.


Other dangers of alcohol:

There are quite a few more effects alcohol can have, such as:

Digestive and endocrine glands

Pancreatitis can arise from chronic alcoholism, which causes inflammation of the pancreas. Pancreatitis can activate the release of pancreatic digesting enzymes and induce abdominal pain [15].

Chronic pancreatitis can lead to life-threatening consequences.

Inflammatory damage

As you consume alcohol, your liver breaks down and gets rid of harmful substances from your body. Long-term alcohol usage brings in the way of this. It also makes you more likely to get the liver disease from drinking and have chronic liver inflammation [16]:

  • The liver disease forced by overdrinking alcohol is a life-threatening condition when waste and toxins build up in your body.
  • Long-term liver inflammation can result in scarring or cirrhosis. Scarring can permanently damage your liver.

Sugar levels

The pancreas plays an essential function in controlling insulin and glucose levels 17. It is possible to get hypoglycemia if your pancreas and liver aren’t functioning properly because of pancreatitis [18] or liver disease.

In addition, a malfunctioning pancreas can limit your body’s ability to use sugar if it cannot produce enough insulin. Carrying too much sugar in the blood can cause hyperglycemia or excessive sugar.

Diabetic problems and side effects can be more severe if your body cannot regulate and maintain your blood sugar levels.

According to medical professionals, if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, you should avoid drinking excessive alcohol.

Central nervous system

Alcohol’s influence on your body can be seen in several ways. You recognize the effects on your nervous system.

Slurred speech is a hallmark of alcoholism because alcohol interferes with the brain-to-body transmission. Speech and coordination (think reaction time and balance) become more challenging due to this situation. Driving after intoxication is especially dangerous because of this very reason.

Alcohol can harm your neurological system over time. Your hands and feet may experience tingling and numbness.

When you drink, you may be less able to:

  • Built memorable moments
  • Make sensible decisions by thinking clearly.
  • To control emotions.

The frontal lobe, which is responsible for administrative processes such as abstract reasoning, decision-making, social conduct, and performance, can be damaged over time by drinking.

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a memory disease caused by chronic heavy drinking [19], is another possibility for lasting brain injury.

Digestive system

It may not be immediately obvious how alcohol consumption affects your digestive tract. After the damage has been done, the side effects are more likely to appear. These sensations can intensify if you continue to drink.

It is possible that drinking can harm the tissues in your digestive tract, making it difficult for your intestines to process and absorb food nutrients and vitamins. Malnutrition may result from this harm over time [20].

  • Gas, bloating, and a sense of fullness in the abdomen resulting from excessive drinking
  • Hemorrhoids or ulcers (due to dehydration and constipation)
  • Ulcers can produce life-threatening internal bleeding that, if left untreated, can be fatal.

Circulatory system

When you drink excessively, your heart and lungs can be affected, increasing the likelihood that you will develop heart-related health problems [21].

Complications of the circulatory system include:

  • An elevated blood pressure
  • The inability of the heart to correctly pump blood throughout the body causes a stroke.
  • Attack of coronary artery disease
  • A heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • You may experience weariness and anemia if your body has difficulty absorbing the vitamins and minerals in your food.

Sexual and reproductive health

As a result of its ability to lessen inhibitions, drinking alcohol may lead you to believe that it will enhance your pleasure in bed.

On the other hand, heavy drinking has been shown to diminish libido, make it difficult to achieve orgasm, and impede the creation of sex hormones. It is possible for a woman’s menstrual cycle to be upset if she drinks too much alcohol, which increases her chances of becoming infertile [22].

Skeletal and muscle systems

Bone density can be affected by long-term alcohol use, resulting in weaker bones and an increased risk of fracture if you fall. Frailty can also affect the speed of bone healing [23].

Muscle weakness, cramping, and atrophy can result from excessive alcohol consumption.

The short-term effects of alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can have several short-term impacts, including:


  • Fewer barriers to entry.
  • Falls and accidents are caused by interpersonal strife.
  • alteration in behavior, such as dangerous or violent behavior, as a result of intoxication


A person’s level of hydration and food consumption also play a role in the severity of the short-term effects of alcohol.

The long-term effects of alcohol

Historically, it was thought that having more than two standard drinks per day caused many long-term health problems and other consequences. According to current studies, any degree of alcohol intake can raise the risk of developing chronic disease.

Among the most prevalent alcohol-related harms are:

  • Road and other mishaps
  • Domestic and public acrimony
  • Breakdown of a criminal family
  • Social disorder
  • Diabetes nutrition-related disorders, include folate insufficiency and malnutrition, cardiovascular disease malignancies in the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, esophagus, liver, colorectum, and female breast.
  • Obesity and overweight pose dangers to unborn children.
  • Liver disorders
  • Anxiety and sadness and interactions with antidepressant medicine; alcohol tolerance, and alcoholism
  • Long-term cognitive deterioration due to dependence or addiction
  • Self-harming (suicide)

silhouette of person drinking from bottle against blue background

Risk factors for alcoholism:

Although alcohol use can begin in youth, alcohol use disorder is more common in the 20s and 30s, but it can begin at any age.

Steady drinking over time

Drinking excessively for an extended period or binge drinking frequently can lead to alcohol-related difficulties or alcohol use disorder.

Starting at an early age

People who start drinking — especially binge drinking — are more likely to develop an alcohol consumption problem at a young age.

Family history

People with an alcoholic father or other close family are more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder. Genetic aspects may play a function in this.

Depression and other mental health problems

Alcohol or other substance misuse is widespread among those suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder.

History of trauma

People who have experienced emotional or other trauma are more likely to develop an alcohol consumption disorder.

Having bariatric surgery

According to certain studies, undergoing bariatric surgery may raise the chance of developing an alcohol use problem or relapsing after recovering from an alcohol use disorder.

Social and cultural factors

Having acquaintances or a close partner who drinks frequently may raise your risk of developing an alcohol use problem.

The attractive manner in which drinking is occasionally portrayed in the media may also convey that it’s OK to drink excessively. The effect of parents, classmates, and other role models on young people can impact risk.

When to see a doctor about drinking:

Consult your doctor if you believe you occasionally use too much alcohol, if your drinking is causing problems, or if your family is concerned about your drinking. Talking with a mental health professional or seeking help from a support organization for getting aid.

Because denial is prevalent, you may not believe you have a drinking issue. You may be unaware of how much you drink or how many difficulties in your life are caused by alcohol.

Pay attention when relatives, friends, or coworkers ask you to check your drinking habits or get treatment. Consider speaking with someone who used to have a drinking problem but has since quit.

How does alcohol affect the human body?

It causes male fertility issues, such as low sperm count and testosterone levels. Damage to the brain and brain-related illnesses such as stroke and dementia High blood pressure, cardiac damage, and heart attacks are all examples of heart problems. Liver cirrhosis and liver failure

When does alcohol leave your system?

Alcohol is detectable in the blood for up to 6 hours, on the breath for up to 12 hours, urine for up to 72 hours (or longer with modern detection methods), and saliva for up to 90 days.

Can you dilute alcohol out of your urine?

Dilution occurs when a large amount of fluid (2-4 quarts) is consumed in a short period (90 minutes). Dilution reduces the concentration of detectable drugs and alcohol in urine and urine creatinine levels.

What are the dangers of drinking?

When excessive alcohol consumption occurs over time, chronic conditions can result, including high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, liver disease, and digestive issues.

Final words on the dangers of alcohol:

Though you might think drinking alcohol is a lot of fun, even a small amount can be detrimental to your health. Chronic alcohol consumption can cause life-threatening diseases. Stopping drinking is the best thing you can do for your health. You can seek assistance from a rehabilitation center.

Other related articles:

  1. Healthiest Leafy Greens
  2. How To Increase Insulin Sensitivity Naturally
  3. How To Stop Sugar Cravings
  4. Smart Ways To Stop Eating Late At Night
  5. Ways To Improve Gut Health Naturally
  6. Ways To Improve Vision Health Naturally

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