How Alcohol Use Affects One’s Body

Drunk man laying on a bed.

It does not take a wise man or woman to know that alcohol is a more or less unhealthy substance and that drinking too much of it can have a very harmful effect on the human body.

But do many people actually know the physiological implications of excessive alcohol consumption? This information is not that well known. People know that drinking too much is generally “bad,” but they don’t necessarily know why. In this article, we’ll take a look at the physiological effect of alcohol consumption, how alcoholics need to seek help from their family members and loved ones, and how we must work together as families and communities to help alcoholics break free from their habits.

How alcohol addiction Affects the Body

Alcohol has a lot of effects on the human body, brain, and mind, effects that change in severity depending on how much alcohol has been consumed.

The Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand penned a phenomenal research text on the adverse effects of excessive alcohol consumption on the human body. We will explore briefly just three, short pieces of data from their research paper below, each of which sheds light on the different types of health problems that are either brought on or further exacerbated by alcohol misuse. A link to the full research text has been included in the Sources Cited section if readers would like more information.


First off, the New Zealand report brings forth one of the key biological repercussions of alcohol misuse. This is speaking of thiamine deficiency. When a person consumes alcohol, it reduces the absorption of thiamine into the gut. When this happens, the alcohol user is at risk for Wernicke’s Encephalopathy, a disorder characterized by paralyzed eye movements, confusion, and trouble walking and balancing. This is very common in heavy alcohol users.

The next point that the research covers is how alcohol use throws off parts of the brain responsible for balance and coordination. The fact that alcohol consumption can also damage the peripheral nerves in the brain is also mentioned. Alcohol even weakens mental function, disrupts and even erases memory, and makes sleeping difficult.

The last section of the New Zealand research discusses how heavy drinking, in particular, brings on a risk for coronary disease, sudden heart failure, irregular heartbeats, problems with the muscles around and in the heart, etc. Heavy drinking also causes dilated cardiomyopathy, which prevents the heart from pumping blood all the way across the body.

And these are only three, brief snippets from a thirty-six-page research paper that explores the many adverse physical consequences of consuming alcohol to excess. Clearly, in spite of all of the advertising and promotion for drinking, and in spite of how heavily alcohol consumption is immersed in our culture, this is a very dangerous and unpleasant habit for anyone to take on.

How Relationships Play a Part in Addiction

Husband drinking in front of his family.

When someone to whom we are very close suddenly falls prey to an alcohol habit, this acts as a serious blow to the relationship that we share with that person. For all of the goodness and kindness that’s still in our hearts and in the hearts of those who struggle with addiction, we cannot deny the fact that having an alcoholic in our lives acts as a harmful force on our lives.

Even when a substance abuser gets off of alcohol, it is likely that they will still have a long road ahead of them in repairing the relationships that they have with their family members and loved ones. The prospect of repairing relationships after addiction is something those of us who have recovered from addiction must address, and it’s something that those of us who have family members and loved ones who are now clean and free from addiction must also address. This is a two-way street, after all.

This is why we need to look to the future, and not to the past. We have to do our best in letting go of those difficult times from the past, and we need to do our best in moving forward and past it all in creating a better future for all of us. We have to be able to forgive and forget the hardships and the difficult times that lay behind us in connection to our loved ones, and we have to be able to focus on the future.

When a family member or loved one has just overcome an alcohol habit, or when a family member is in the process of doing so, support and help from their loved ones is crucial.

Families and Addicts Must Work Together to Reduce Alcoholism in America

We have to work together to reduce the prominence of alcohol abuse in our society and to get people to see that drinking to excess is never worth it. We have to help alcoholics get help, a challenge to say the least because alcoholics generally speaking do not want to get help.

The proper courses of action to reduce the prominence of alcohol addiction in our society are to:

  • Prevent more alcoholism from coming about. These are efforts that go towards educating people and getting them to see how dangerous drinking is, how harmful such habits are, and why we all need to stay away from excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Treat those who are currently addicted to alcohol. There are millions of Americans who struggle with alcohol addiction, and they will need help in breaking free from their habits. The best way to help them, once they are willing, is through drug and alcohol addiction treatment centers. Such programs possess the tools and recovery services, counseling and therapies, life skills, and educational programs necessary to assist people in overcoming alcohol dependence.

We can tackle this problem, and we can reduce it, and we need too as well because alcohol is very harmful to those who become addicted to it and their family members and loved ones too.




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.