The Long-Term Effects Of Consuming Alcohol On The Human Body

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While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.


Wine, beer, and spirits all include alcohol, an intoxicating element. It’s a depressant, which means it slows down the body’s systems once it reaches the brain.

It can also be challenging for the body to handle, putting additional strain on the digestive system, liver, cardiovascular system, and other organs.

Alcohol is a legal recreational drug for adults that is also one of the most often utilized in the United States.

It is widely misunderstood by people of all ages, resulting in serious health, legal, and socioeconomic consequences.

In 2017, every American above 18 had consumed alcohol in the previous month. However, only over 9% of individuals between the ages of 12 and 17 have done so.

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Short-Term Effects Of Consuming Alcohol

Alcohol is taken into the bloodstream through blood vessels in the stomach lining and small intestine within minutes of consumption.

It then gets to the brain, where its effects are swiftly manifested.

Alcohol’s short-term effects are determined by:

  • how much food is eaten
  • whether or not the individual’s weight, sex, and body fat % have changed swiftly
  • Drinking after a meal decreases absorption, which means fewer side effects and less intoxication.

However, drinking in small amounts results in anxiety attacks, sleeplessness, reduced motor skills, and euphoria. If you drink in large quantities, you will have a central nervous system depression, stupor, drunkenness, and anterograde amnesia.

Long-Term Effects

Over 200 diseases and injury-related health issues are linked to alcohol, including dependency and addiction, liver cirrhosis, malignancies, and unintentional injuries such as car accidents, falls, burns, assaults, and drowning.

Every year, over 88,000 people in the United States die due to alcohol-related causes. As a result, it is the third most preventable cause of death.

Long-term alcohol abuse is linked to the following health complications:

  • Liver ailment.
  • Cardiomyopathy, heart muscle damage and other cardiovascular issues are pancreatitides.
  • Neuropathy of the peripheral nerves.
  • Ulceration in the stomach.
  • Cancer.
  • Dysregulation of the immune system.
  • Osteoporosis.
  • Damage to the brain and nerves.
  • A lack of vitamins.
  • Anxiety and depression are examples of mental health issues.

Because alcohol affects every physiological system, it can result in health problems all over the body.

According to studies, women who consume more alcohol than is suggested regularly are more likely than males to acquire liver disease, cardiomyopathy, and nerve damage in fewer years.

The amount of young individuals who consume alcohol is a significant source of concern. According to research, 20% of college students satisfy the criteria for AUD, and the disorder affects around 623,000 adolescents aged 12 to 17.

From fetal development to the end of adolescence, alcohol can significantly impact the growing brain. If a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, her kid may be born with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS).

Alcohol Intolerance

Some people become ill shortly after consuming alcohol. They may have an intolerance, sensitivity, or allergy to alcohol or a drink’s other ingredients.

Among the signs and symptoms are:

  • Asthma worsening diarrhea.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Facial flushing.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Hodgkin lymphoma can cause alcohol intolerance. Anyone who develops an intolerance suddenly may be advised to contact a doctor to rule out the possibility of an underlying ailment.

Alcohol combined with other depressant-type pharmaceuticals, whether over-the-counter, prescription, or recreational, can have devastating consequences for the respiratory and central nervous systems.

Mixing alcohol with GHB, ketamine, Rohypnol, tranquilizers, and sleeping medications is also harmful.


When a person drinks too much in one evening, they may wake up still feeling the effects of the alcohol, which is known as a “hangover.”

This is due to the fact that alcohol is poisonous to the body, and the body is still trying to rid itself of it.

Many of the symptoms are caused by dehydration, but some substances in alcoholic beverages can create a reaction in the blood vessels and brain, exacerbating the problem.

Among the signs and symptoms are:

  • Headaches.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea,
  • Exhaustion,
  • Arrhythmia.
  • A dry mouth and eyes
  • Restlessness
  • Unable to concentrate.

The stomach absorbs about 20% of the alcohol consumed. The remaining 80% is absorbed primarily through the small intestine. Approximately 5% of the alcohol consumed is excreted through the lungs, kidneys, and skin. The liver eliminates the remaining.

Because the liver can only digest one drink at a time, the body may become saturated with alcohol that has not yet left the body.

From one to two drinks, the body can take 2 to 3 hours to absorb the alcohol, and from eight to ten drinks, it can take up to 24 hours.

The effects of a hangover might continue for up to 24 hours. Therefore, doctors recommend not drinking again for at least 48 hours after a binge-drinking episode.

Addiction And Withdrawal

When a person drinks a lot of alcohol on a regular basis, their tolerance grows, and the body needs more alcohol to produce the desired impact.

Dependence and addiction can develop when the body adjusts to the drug’s presence. For example, when someone’s consumption abruptly stops, they may experience withdrawal symptoms.

Alcoholism is a disorder marked by a strong desire for alcohol and a willingness to use it despite harmful consequences to one’s health, interpersonal connections, and ability to work. The person will experience withdrawal symptoms if they quit drinking.

Withdrawal signs and symptoms usually appear 4 to 72 hours after the last drink or after reduced intake. However, they have a 48-hour peak and can last up to 5 days.

Putting It All Together

When you consume alcohol for an extended period, your body starts relying on it. The short and long-term effects of alcohol are unpleasant because apart from the temporary mind numbness, this beverage does not offer much joy.

Still, people consume alcohol aggressively at a party or in any other occasion. If you need more information on that, reach us in the comment section below. We will get back to you with an answer in no time.

While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. -----------------------------------

Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.


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