How Alcohol Affects Overall Health

Posted at 3:11 PM on Apr 11, 2022


It is very common for many adults to regularly consume alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is a common catalyst for many social situations and while one drink per day is perfectly fine, the problem is overindulging.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much?

If you choose to drink alcohol it is recommended that adult women should consume no more than one drink per day and adult men, no more than two drinks per day. However, you should not consume any alcohol if:

  • Younger than 21
  • Pregnant or may be pregnant
  • Driving, planning to drive, or operating any machinery or equipment
  • Taking certain prescription or over-the-counter medications that can interact with alcohol
  • Suffering from certain medical conditions
  • Recovering from alcoholism 

Too much alcohol frequently occurs as binge drinking. This type of drinking is defined for women as drinking more than four drinks and for men as drinking more than five drinks in one sitting. 

If your alcohol consumption far exceeds any numbers listed so far you should consult your physician as you may have an alcohol addiction or be alcohol dependent.  If you frequently approach or exceed these limits, you should work to stay within a healthier range of alcohol use.  If you find this difficult you should talk with your primary care doctor about your situation.  They will welcome this conversation.

How Alcohol Affects Overall Health

While studies have shown the health benefits of consuming some alcoholic beverages, like wine, in moderation, there are many negative effects excessive drinking can have on overall health.

The Brain

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways and can affect the way the brain looks and works.” Therefore, it can make it difficult for the brain to control balance, memory, speech, and judgment. There can also be lasting effects on the brain with long-term heavy drinking which can alter the neurons.”

Developing brains in youth can be especially susceptible to the negative effects alcohol has on the brain. Misuse of alcohol in adolescents and young adults can change the trajectory of how the brain will develop. 

The Body

In the short-term excessive drinking can lead to physical injury to the body due to a lack of balance, control, and reflexes. Longer-term physical effects can include:

  • Increased risk of certain diseases and illnesses like cancer, high blood pressure, heart failure, and more
  • Liver failure
  • Weakened immune system
  • Impaired memory
  • Mental health problems

Limiting or Quitting Drinking

The first step is to begin tracking how much alcohol you regularly consume. You can then decide if you’d like to stop consuming alcohol or limit alcohol to a healthy intake. You can learn more about quitting drinking by reading, “Alcohol Awareness – How to Quit Drinking”.