The long lasting effects of alcohol abuse

Drinking alcohol in moderation is a common form of celebration between family and friends. Alcohol, however, can be dangerous if a person develops a dependence on alcohol and engages in excessive heavy binges or daily binge drinking. Not only is there a chance of developing alcohol addiction or alcoholism, but alcohol can also wreak havoc on the body, causing harm that can lead to potential physical and mental illnesses, and even death. 

Toxins in alcohol interact with a variety of organs, including the brain, to produce its effects. These toxins can cause damage to certain organs and body systems as a result of long-term, heavy alcohol use, resulting in disease. This harm affects several organ systems. 

effects of alcohol

Most likely, you or someone you know consumes alcohol daily. When people around you are drinking, the short-term impact of alcohol on the brain can feel very good – a warm and generous feeling, a bit of social trust, an easier time enjoying the present moment, and a better community bonding experience.

However, the consequences of alcohol misuse extend well beyond inebriation, and if you drink more and more, you'll find yourself in some dangerous territory. Clumsiness, memory loss, poor decision-making, blackouts, and hangovers are just the start – and many drinkers are completely unaware of the long-term risk they are exposing themselves to.

Here are just some of the long lasting effects of alcohol abuse: 

long lasting effects of alcohol abuse

1. Damage To The Brain

When someone has had too much to drink, they may have slurred speech and sluggish response times. This is a strong sign of alcohol's effect on the brain. A lot of people are unaware that short-term impacts may have long-term ramifications. Alcohol has an impact on the entire central nervous system. Alcohol can harm the brain over time if it is consumed in large amounts. Damage to the frontal lobe is normal, and it can cause issues with short-term memory, judgment, and emotional control.

Moreover, drinking alcohol during pregnancy can damage a developing fetus's brain, resulting in learning difficulties that last a lifetime. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a serious disorder caused by excessive drinking during pregnancy that can leave the infant with significant physical and mental problems after birth.

2. Circulatory System Damage

Alcohol abuse can damage your circulatory system as well as your liver and brain. Regular alcoholics have a greater risk of heart disease than non-alcoholics, and this risk is higher for women than for men.

Cardiomyopathy is a condition that is commonly caused by alcohol misuse. Cardiomyopathy happens when the heart's ability to pump blood is compromised, and it can have serious consequences for your general wellbeing.

Other than that, risk of heart attack or heart failure, stroke, hypertension (high blood pressure), heart disease, irregular heartbeat, and anemia are some of the more common complications associated with alcohol-related heart disease.

long term damage from alcohol abuse

3. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis, a debilitating inflammation of the pancreas that sometimes necessitates hospitalisation, may also be caused by excessive alcohol intake.

Premature activation of proenzymes of pancreatic enzymes, prolonged exposure to acetaldehyde, and other chemical processes in the pancreas triggered by alcohol injury are likely to trigger inflammation. Around 70% of cases of pancreatitis occur in people who consume significant quantities of alcohol daily.

4. Cancer

Cancers of the mouth, oesophagus, larynx, stomach, liver, colon, rectum, and breast can be caused by chronic alcohol consumption. The increased risk is due to both acetaldehyde and alcohol itself. Further to that, people who smoke cigarettes and consume alcohol have a higher risk of upper gastrointestinal and respiratory tract cancer.

5. Malnourishment and vitamin deficiencies

Malnutrition and vitamin shortages can also be caused by dysfunctional drinking. This could be due to a poor diet, but it could also be due to improper nutrient breakdown. This happens when nutrients are not effectively absorbed into the bloodstream from the gastrointestinal tract, and they are not used effectively by the body's cells. Also, alcohol's ability to stop red blood cell production in the bone marrow and cause bleeding from gastric ulcers can contribute to iron deficiency anaemia.

6. Liver Disease

Alcohol misuse not only harms the brain but also harms the liver. The liver is the main organ that deals with alcohol as it breaks down and eliminates toxic substances from the body. Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is a chronic disease that can progress to be very severe if exposed to alcohol over a long period.

Fatty liver disease is the first symptom of ALD. This happens when fat builds up around the liver, obstructing its work. Acute alcoholic hepatitis, or liver swelling, is caused by continued alcohol abuse and can lead to liver failure. Cirrhosis of the liver is the most serious form of alcoholic liver disease, and it occurs when the organ is inflamed and scar tissue forms. Cirrhosis impairs the liver's ability to function, resulting in an accumulation of toxins and waste in the body. Alcoholic liver disease of this kind is sometimes fatal.

Getting help with alcohol abuse

Recognising the problem is the first step in seeking treatment for substance abuse. If you suspect you might be addicted to alcohol or notice symptoms of alcohol abuse in your loved ones, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss a referral to a psychologist or other professional.

Online tools and support groups such as Counselling ONLINE, SMART Recovery and ReachOut NextStep are also useful to get immediate help from home. 

Breathalysers can also be useful to stop yourself from drinking too much alcohol on any occasion. Many personal breathalyser customers use them to not only stop themselves from going over the drink driving limit, but also to moderate and self-manage their alcohol intake due to health purposes. Just take a breath test 20 minutes after your last sip of alcohol to get a numerical BAC reading, so you are aware of your alcohol level and can stop drinking before you reach a certain limit.

AlcoSense Elite 3 BT mobile app breathalyser

Andatech offers Australian Standards certified alcohol breath testers suitable for both consumer and workplace use. As Australia’s most highly reviewed breathalyser brand, Andatech boasts not only excellent customer service but also the latest in features and fuel cell sensor technology for alcohol testing, offering accuracy you can trust. 

With our latest bluetooth mobile app breathalysers, users can also record, take a selfie and track their drinking history from their mobile phone. These smartphone breathalysers, such as the AlcoSense Elite 3 BT and AlcoSense Nexus, are the best for personal tracking and accountability.




Check out more breathalysers on the Andatech website. 



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "Alcohol Use and Your Health"

Healthline, "The Effects of Alcohol on Your Body"

Alcohol Rehab Guide, "Effects of Alcohol", “What is alcohol addiction?” 

Healthdirect, “Alcoholism at home” 

Australian Family Physician, “Alcohol: prevention, policy and primary care responses”

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), “Alcohol Overview” 

Ausmed, “Alcohol: Still the Main Drug of Addiction”


Image credits: 

Vivien Mah

Vivien Mah

Vivien is a Digital Marketing specialist with a background in psychology and communications, and a passion for educating readers and unraveling complexities behind difficult topics through extensive research. Apart from sharing her love for infographics, she also posts regularly on new products, announcements, media mentions and the latest news.


Share your thoughts with us below.