Alcohol affects the entire body, including the brain, nervous system, liver, heart, and the individual’s emotional well-being. Its effects are directly related to the amount of alcohol ingested. Factors that influence the effects of alcohol on the body include age, gender, family history of alcoholism, and how much and how often alcohol is consumed.
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According to the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, just one or two drinks can cause blurred vision, slurred speech, slower reaction times, impaired memory, and loss of balance. Short-term effects disappear when the individual stops drinking, but long-term alcohol abuse may cause chronic brain disorders that are serious and debilitating.
Serious Chronic Diseases
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drinking alcohol over extended periods of time can cause high blood pressure, liver cirrhosis (damage to liver cells), and pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas).
A hangover is a set of unpleasant symptoms that occur after drinking too much alcohol, typically the morning after a night of heavy drinking. A hangover may be characterized by fatigue, thirst, nausea, vomiting, headache, muscle aches, dizziness, rapid pulse, sensitivity to light and sound, mood disturbances, and bloodshot eyes.
Long-term drinking is associated with a higher risk of certain types of cancer, including cancer of the liver, mouth, throat, larynx (the voice box), esophagus, and breast. Drinkers who also smoke are at a higher risk for developing cancer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women should not drink at all, but about one in 12 pregnant women in the United States report alcohol use. Exposing the fetus to alcohol can cause birth defects of the brain, heart and other organs.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drinking slows reaction time, and impairs judgment and coordination. Individuals under the influence of alcohol are more likely to be involved in motor-vehicle accidents; violent acts, such as child abuse, murder and suicide; falls; drowning; burns; and firearm injuries.
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, youth who use alcohol before the age of 15 are five times more likely to become dependent on alcohol than adults who begin drinking at age 21. Other factors include gender and family history of alcoholism.
A single 12-ounce beer, five-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounce shot of liquor has about 150 calories. These are empty calories that contain no beneficial nutrients.
Poor Quality of LIfe
Drinking alcohol can affect your financial, professional, and emotional well-being. Long-term alcohol abuse is associated with psychiatric problems such as depression, anxiety, and antisocial personality disorder.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is a pattern of alcohol consumption on a single occasion – generally within two hours - that raises the concentration of alcohol in the blood to 0.08 percent or higher. Drinking alcohol too quickly and in excessive amounts depresses the nervous system, causing blackouts, seizures, coma, and even death.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Alcohol
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: Alcohol's Damaging Effects on the Brain
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: What Every Woman Should Know About Alcohol and Pregnancy
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Healthy Youth: Alcohol and Drug Use
- MedlinePlus: Alcohol