Alcohol is perceived as a harmless, innocent substance. It’s legal to purchase and consume and is heavily normalised across many cultures. With such a safe image, consuming alcohol is seen as a low-risk action. Yet in fact, long-term consumption can amount to many physical and psychological impacts.

Moderate consumption levels can have short-term effects on the body and brain. Hangover-like symptoms are the most associated impact, brushed under the carpet for most post-recovery. Yet with regular consumption comes the risk of long-term health concerns.

Consistent, uncontrollable, and habit-like consumption rates can turn into an addiction, a serious health concern. Alcoholism is one of the easiest addictions to develop, as consumption can be justified. Yet once exposure is constant, rather than episodic, the body will begin to injure, as will the brain.

Due to the unbreakable cycle of addiction, the impact of alcohol addiction is found to continue, to intensify and to rule, up until enough is enough. Here’s how damaging an alcohol use disorder can be, along with some advice on breaking the cycle. At Ocean Recovery, we’re armed with advice, addiction treatment services and plans to revert the impacts of alcoholism.


What is alcohol addiction?

Although alcohol is legal, it is just as addictive as illegal drugs. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, meaning that it slows down internal processes. It relaxes the body and brain whilst producing higher levels of happy chemicals and feelings.

Alcohol addiction is a brain disorder where a strong dependency lies on the substance. Someone who is addicted to alcohol will find it difficult to pause or stop consuming the drug, due to the positive reinforcements that it offers.

Initial use of alcohol may be a conscious choice. Yet once the body and brain become dependent on its presence, and accommodate its impacts, such choices are controlled by the subconscious. For an alcoholic, little to no control will be found over craving, justifying, and abusing alcohol.

Whilst moderate drinking is deemed as safe, the scale can easily tip, resembling binge drinking habits and abuse. Here’s the impact of alcohol addiction on the body, brain, and entire being.


Signs and symptoms of alcohol addiction

As the line between normalised alcohol consumption and abuse is very thin, being aware of the signs and symptoms of alcoholism is very important. An addiction is a non-biased condition, meaning that any individual can develop a fixation on alcohol.

Some people will be at greater risk of developing alcoholism, due to genetics, upbringing, or existing health problems. Yet risks are still present for all people who consume alcohol.

  • Unhealthy drinking habits, beyond what it’s like to binge drink
  • The inability to withdraw from alcohol and to stop drinking
  • Withdrawal symptoms as the amount of alcohol in the body reduces
  • Physical symptoms and ill-health
  • Poor mental health, common as a dual diagnosis
  • Money worries, legal problems, and damaged relationships, due to prioritising alcohol exposure
  • Justifying alcohol consumption
  • Hiding habits from others
  • Leading an alcohol-fuelled lifestyle
  • Changes in personality and interests

Alcohol addiction can impact physical and psychological health, along with social and behavioural commitments, actions, and outlooks. Displayed through signs and symptoms, here’s the impact of alcohol addiction for both the short-term and long-term.


The impact of alcohol addiction on the body and mind

As alcohol takes priority, internal systems and neurological activity will begin to adjust to and accommodate its presence. On initial use, minimal impacts will be experienced, as alcohol levels will significantly reduce over a 24-hour period. Yet where consumption is consistent, and a build-up of alcohol is expected, change is inevitable.

Through such change, alcohol dependence can develop, alongside physical and mental health problems. On a physical note, alcohol abuse can cause liver disease, inflammatory conditions, alcohol-induced vision problems, diabetes and pancreatic problems, heart disease, damage to the central nervous system and a depleted immune system. On psychological levels, abuse can develop into an addiction, mental health issues such as depression and panic disorders, memory loss, cognitive damages, personality disorders and poor impulse control.

Here are the effects of alcohol, which can worsen as consumption continues.


Short term impacts of alcohol addiction

Short term effects are common through initial use and abuse. Such levels of alcohol exposure will be new to both the body and brain, resulting in some changes to health and wellbeing. Short-term impacts of heavy drinking can either be experienced in the moment or post-consumption.

  • Impulsive behaviour
  • A sense of relaxation
  • A sense of euphoria
  • Changes in perception
  • Risks of alcohol poisoning
  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Hangover-like symptoms
  • Irrational decision making
  • Poor memory

Whilst short-term impacts may be short-lived, for someone with an addiction, the positives can be craved, and the negatives can be diminished through further consumption. Without control, long-term effects are likely, resulting in co-occurring health conditions and an unshakeable addiction.


Long term impacts of alcohol addiction

The long-term effects of alcohol addiction are highly concerning and can materialise into co-occurring health problems. Lasting damages can amount through alcoholism, to both the body and brain, complicating treatment and recovery.

  • A depleted immune system, resulting in frequent health problems
  • A change in personality and behaviour, leaning towards alcohol as a coping strategy
  • Damage to the vital organs
  • High risks of cancer, organ failure and life-limiting disorders
  • Risks of dual diagnosis of depression, anxiety, panic, and schizophrenia
  • The development of sleep conditions
  • Eating problems
  • Damages to everyday life, from decision-making to relationships
  • Risks of abusing illicit drugs
  • Risks of overdose with alternative drugs
  • Irreversible injury to the central nervous system

Whilst consuming alcohol is an innocent act, the enablement of long-term and frequent consumption can result in addiction and the above impacts. Moderate drinking habits should be followed, yet in the event of addiction, getting help for alcoholism will be the only way out.


Getting help for alcoholism at Ocean Recovery

Alcoholism is a common diagnosis, demanding professional support and treatment. Help can be found here at Ocean Recovery, offering the chance to withdraw and rehabilitate from alcohol addiction.

The impact of alcohol addiction can be long-standing. Yet with treatment, symptoms can be suppressed, co-occurring conditions can be treated, and change can be accepted.

By completing an alcohol detox and the recommendation of core treatments, physical and psychological withdrawal, from alcohol, can be aimed for. Working through replacement therapies, cognitive behavioural therapy, counselling, holistic therapies, support groups and relapse prevention, alcoholism can be disabled.

Reach out for further information on alcohol rehab, here to support addicts, families, and friends through alcohol addiction recovery.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: November 3, 2023

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.