Any Amount of Alcohol Consumption Can Cause Harm— An Argument for a Sober Life

Any amount of drinking carries some harm, and that harm is increased the more one drinks. Alcohol has ever-present risk and potential damage connected to it, all with ZERO health benefits. There is considerable evidence of the very real physiological effects of consuming even just one drink, how it dulls the senses, slows reaction time, impinges judgment, etc. With that in mind, why drink at all? Is it time to consider swearing off of alcohol completely?

What Happens When You Drink Alcohol?

What’s the big deal with alcohol consumption? People drink to socialize, celebrate, and relax. Alcohol consumption is legal in the United States for anyone over the age of 21. Tens of millions of Americans consume alcohol. It is a highly accepted activity across the nation.

However, there is a dark underside of alcohol consumption that most people have a slight concept of, but which is never really discussed openly or granted the attention it deserves. Alcohol has a strong effect on people. It causes people to think and act differently. It is technically a mind-altering drug, though it is not generally labeled as such.

It is a known fact that drinking too much alcohol is a recipe for disaster, but that moderate drinking is okay. Even the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that “While drinking alcohol is itself not necessarily a problem—drinking too much can cause a range of consequences, and increase your risk for a variety of problems.”

Taking a drink
       Photo by Tero Vesalainen/

But if a large amount of alcohol consumption presents serious problems, wouldn’t any amount of alcohol consumption present at least some risk? Or is there something about alcohol that makes it perfectly safe to consume a small amount and suddenly very unsafe to drink a more substantial amount?

As it turns out, any amount of alcohol consumption carries risk.

As soon as the first swallow of alcohol passes the lips, the substance begins to affect the body. Alcohol’s effects can immediately show up within ten minutes of taking that first sip—the physiological effects of alcohol consumption act as a sign of what is occurring on a biochemical level. As soon as alcohol enters the bloodstream, it begins to impair brain function, slow down cognitive thought, slow reaction time, inhibit judgment, reduce memory, etc. The more one drinks, the more these effects will become apparent. But the truth is, these effects begin to occur even after just one drink.

That is what people need to understand and fully comprehend. There is simply no such thing as a “safe” level of drinking. Any amount of drinking bears risk because alcohol begins to hamper cognitive function the moment one takes that first sip.

Lady having a difficult time
                                Photo by FG Trade/                         

The following are some of the potential, immediate effects of alcohol, each of which is exacerbated the more one drinks:  

  • Reduction of inhibitions
  • Slurred speech
  • Motor impairment
  • Varying degrees of confusion
  • Short and long-term memory problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Inability to focus
  • Breathing trouble

Remember, the human body does not digest alcohol. Alcohol passes quickly through the bloodstream, traveling through every part of the body. Alcohol arrives first in the brain, then the kidneys, lungs, and finally the liver. Once in the liver, the liver processes alcohol and removes it from the bloodstream. Furthermore, the liver has a relatively low tolerance for alcohol. The more one drinks, the more they will be affected by it, as the liver can only process so much alcohol at any one time.

What Does Alcohol Do to You?

Much of the effects of alcohol on the body are pretty well-known. However, other effects do not receive as much attention as they should. For example:

  • Alcohol cannot be stored. Unlike proteins, carbohydrates, or fats, the body has no way of storing alcohol. When one drinks, all other metabolic processes are put on hold until the alcohol is metabolized and secreted via urine. That’s why alcohol affects the liver so severely. Even just one drink temporarily offsets the body’s digestive process.
  • Continuous alcohol consumption can lead to bacterial growth within the gut. This bacteria can migrate through the intestinal wall and into the liver, leading to severe liver damage.
  • Frequent alcohol consumption can lead to cardiomyopathy and arrhythmias, both of which are harmful heart conditions.
  • Alcohol has a powerful effect on the pancreas. The more one drinks (in volume and in frequency), the more likely they are to develop pancreatitis.
  • Drinking too much or too often is also a leading cause of cancer. Cancer of the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and even the breast can all be caused by alcohol consumption.
  • Alcohol consumption also harms the immune response. People who drink, even if they do not drink to excess, will often experience a reduction in immune response for up to 24 hours after drinking. That is why people who drink frequently have the potential to get sick more often.
  • Another concern is what might be put in one's drink, particularly at a bar. Incidents of date rape tend to occur because an alcoholic beverage was drugged, not a nonalcoholic beverage.

Addiction Treatment – The Way Out of an Alcohol Addiction Crisis

Alcohol addiction is a devastating crisis, a condition that can ruin lives and even lead to death. For those who drink too much, the key is to make sure they get help at a qualified treatment center before their condition worsens. Their alcohol consumption will not improve on its own. It will only get worse if nothing is done about it.

If you know someone who drinks to much or is beginning to go down that path, please contact Narconon today. Their life (and the lives of those around them) is at stake.


Reviewed and Edited by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, MCAP, RAS,



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.