What Does Alcohol Abuse do to the Body?

alcohol being poured into a glass

Excessive drinking– whether it’s the occasional binge or an everyday occurrence– has a profoundly negative effect on a variety of major life areas. One of these areas that are often ignored is the alcohol abuse effects on the body. Needless to say, this lack of attention can lead to life-altering or even fatal consequences.

This post is intended to draw the problem drinker’s attention to the health problems associated with chronic alcoholism. Read on for a detailed look at alcohol abuse effects on the body.

Moderate vs Excessive Drinking

How much is too much when it comes to alcohol consumption and its effects it has on your body? Obviously, the answer to this question depends on a variety of highly individualized factors. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website contains a very revealing discussion of the differences between moderate and heavy drinking.

Here’s a quick summary of these differences:

  • Anyone who drinks less than one or two drinks a day (the number is usually lower for women than men) is considered a moderate drinker.
  • It’s important to remember, however, that moderate drinkers sometimes increase their consumption and begin to drink excessively in a relatively short amount of time.
  • Both binge drinking and chronically heavy drinking are considered excessive and can lead to profoundly negative health outcomes
  • Binge drinking is defined by consuming more than 4-5 drinks during a single day or session
  • A man who regularly consumes more than 15 drinks a week is considered a heavy drinker, while a woman who consumes over 8 drinks a week qualifies.
  • While this type of heavy drinking does not make someone an alcoholic, it can still lead to a number of health problems.

Alcohol Abuse Effects on the Body

Contrary to a once-popular belief, alcohol-related health problems don’t stop in the liver. Yes, excessive drinking can do permanent damage to the liver, but that doesn’t mean you can ignore the rest of your body. Here are some of the ways that heavy or alcoholic drinking can negatively affect the body:

Brain functioning

Excessive drinking can lead to speech problems, depression, erratic behavior, and cognitive dysfunction.

Heart problems

Not surprisingly, heavy drinkers often experience heart conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, and arrhythmia.


Study after study has shown researchers that there is a strong correlation between high levels of drinking and several different forms of cancer. Cancers of the neck, head, and liver are commonly associated with problem drinking. Heavy drinkers are also more likely than the average person to develop breast and esophageal cancers.

An Important Reminder

The purpose of this post was twofold. First, we wanted to provide a detailed account of the physical dangers of excessive drinking and help drinkers remain self-aware. Obviously, this is potentially life-saving knowledge for the true alcoholic.

However, it’s important that excessive drinkers and their families understand that you don’t have to qualify as an alcoholic to experience alcohol abuse effects on the body. Keep this uncomfortable fact in mind when you find yourself drinking more than you’d like and you’ll have a much better chance of avoiding alcohol-related health problems.

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