Commonly considered by most as the life of the party, there are several negative impacts of alcohol on the body. Although many people assume the occasional 1 or 2 drinks don’t pose any threat, however even small amounts of alcohol can possibly lead to unwanted health concerns.
Alcohol is a chemical found in certain beverages whose key ingredient is ethanol. Alcohol can be found in numerous forms, like beer, wine, and liquor. Strongly advertised and idealized in today’s pop culture, alcohol has become a commonly used substance. When alcohol is consumed, it’s absorbed into your bloodstream and may increase your heart rate. It triggers the brain’s reward system by activating dopamine, a neurotransmitter that produces pleasurable feelings and creates cravings to repeat this action.
Too much alcohol use can severely impact the physical and mental well-being of heavy drinkers in the long run. These effects become more noticeable and affect every part of your body if you keep drinking regularly. The amount of damage alcohol can cause your body is subject to certain factors and habits. Factors such as age, body size and composition, age, metabolism, health status, and so on, play a key role. Additionally, how much alcohol you consume, your pattern of drinking, and also the quality of the alcohol you drink play a part as well.
How Binge Drinking Affects Your Body and Health
Heavy drinking with the purpose of getting drunk over a short space of time is usually referred to as binge drinking. Binge drinking is a risky practice that can cause physical harm. Its short-term effects range from a hangover and alcohol poisoning to even accidents. While its long-term impact results in liver cirrhosis, heart disease, diabetes, or even cancer.
Binge drinking is a dangerous practice that can cause physical harm. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) classifies binge drinking as a drinking pattern that can increase your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level.
Short-term Impacts of Alcohol on the Body
You’ve probably experienced alcohol’s effects after having a glass of wine, cognac, or beer. Alcohol consumption does have some temporary effects that you might notice while drinking or soon after. Some of the short-term impacts of alcohol on the body include:
- Loss of coordination and trouble concentrating.
- impulsive behavior – including risky or violent behavior
- Alcohol poisoning
- lowered inhibitions
- A hangover
- Feeling a sense of euphoria due to feel-good hormones
- lack of judgment
- slowed or slurred speech
- Blackouts or gaps in memory
- May alter vision, perception, and hearing.
What are the Negative Impacts of Alcohol on the Body?
1. It Affects Your Cardiovascular Health
Alcohol can have a profound impact on your cardiovascular health. Consuming as little as 1 to 3 alcoholic drinks daily may increase your risk of developing an irregular heartbeat. An abnormal heartbeat may cause fatigue or shortness of breath. Alcohol consumption is also associated with high blood pressure (HBP), stroke, heart attack, anemia, blood clot, or even cardiomyopathy.
Cardiomyopathy is the sagging or weakening of the heart muscle due to excessive alcohol misuse. Alcohol consumption can thin and weaken the heart muscle in the long term, making it less efficient in pumping blood throughout the body. It is a serious illness that can lead to other complications like heart failure.
2. Negative Impacts of Alcohol on the Body: Liver Damage
Your liver plays one of the most significant roles in breaking down alcohol and processes over 90% of alcohol. It is responsible for filtering out harmful substances in the blood. The liver produces enzymes that work hard to destroy alcohol molecules and excretes the waste through mostly urine and sweat.
Since your liver can only process a certain amount of alcohol at a time, people who binge drink overwork their liver. This is because the liver is not able to process the toxins fast enough due to the excess alcohol which enters the bloodstream, causing one to feel tipsy. There are possible severe medical consequences of consistent heavy drinking. For instance, the liver may become inflamed and conditions such as liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis may develop.
3. It Can Lead to Brain Damage
Prolonged alcohol consumption interferes with the brain’s structure and how it functions. Excessive alcohol consumption affects a large portion of the brain and as a result, may lead to different kinds of cognitive impairment. Difficulty walking, loss of coordination, blurred vision, slurred speech, slowed reaction times, impaired memory, etc. are all negative effects of alcohol on the brain. Alcohol not only affects your behavior and thoughts, but it can also disrupt the brain’s natural equilibrium and lead to memory loss or even brain damage in the long run.
The part of the brain that is responsible for learning and memory is the hippocampus, while the prefrontal cortex is responsible for decision-making. Alcohol interferes with this process and makes it difficult for these parts of the brain to carry out their jobs. This is why intoxicated individuals may become less inhibited, act irrationally, or overly confident, resulting in a higher likelihood of injuries and other negative outcomes. Additionally, heavy alcohol use can over time potentially result in a permanent cognitive disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which causes amnesia.