The Debilitating Effects of Alcohol

So exactly what Are the Effects of Alcohol?

Alcohol’s impact on you starts immediately you take your first sip. The cumulative effects of alcohol drinking, wine, beer, or spirits take their toll over a very short period. The effects of alcohol vary from person to person as every person is different. Some people may be able to control their drinking, whereas other people have a tough time controlling anything  – including their alcohol consumption.

First, we should understand what constitutes “one drink” -in order to fully comprehend the consequences of drinking.

One drink is recognized as:

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  1. One can of beer – approximately five per cent alcohol
  2. One shot of malt liquor – about seven per cent alcohol
  3. One wineglass of wine – roughly 12 per cent alcohol
  4. One shot of 80-proof distilled spirits (vodka, rum, gin, tequila, whiskey, etc.) – an estimated 40 per cent alcohol

The harmful effects of alcohol

These can be swayed by any number of risk dynamics such as the amount of alcohol imbibed, the individual’s tolerance to alcohol, their medical history, as well as what other drugs – legal or illegal – are mixed or taken or just happen to be present with the alcohol intake.

Alcohol gets transported through the stomach and small intestine into the bloodstream. Circulation causes alcohol to spread through all parts of the body. The alcohol reaches the brain after about 10 minutes. With a full stomach, the intake of alcohol takes a little bit longer than on an empty stomach.

Alcohol numbs your brain.

This is due to the effect that alcohol has on the transmission of signals in the nerves and brain.

Because of this anaesthetic certain inhibitions disappear from the drinker. The drinker feels relaxed. Alcohol can also make someone very aggressive, depressed, or anxious. The more a person consumes, the stronger the effect.

Effects of alcohol abuse by a glass of alcohol consumed:

  • 1-3 glasses (0 to 0.5 ml) relaxed, uninhibited, cheerful
  • 3-7 glasses (0.5 to 1.5 per thousand) tipsy
  • 7-15 glasses (1.5 to 3 per thousand) drunk
  • 15-20 glass (3 to 4 per thousand) totally inebriated
  • + 20 to 25 glasses (4 per thousand and above) pass out

Effects of alcohol abuse on the organs:

Alcohol may cause long-term effects on the following organs:

  • Brains
  • Liver
  • Stomach
  • Cardiovascular

The Brain and Alcohol Abuse

After drinking 1 to 2 glasses of alcohol the brain is working less than normal. If you drink for a long time, averaging more than 25 glasses of alcoholic drinks per week, you run the risk of brain damage. Your memory is decreasing, you think slower, you are less creative, you adapt poorly to new situations. The brain doesn’t work as good and the volume of the brain may shrink up to 15% in excessive drinkers. Heavy drinking, combined with a lack of vitamin B1, can lead to irreversible brain damages. The most serious form is Korsakoff syndrome.

Alcohol Abuse on the Liver

Alcohol is a toxic substance that needs to be broken down in the body. This degradation process occurs in the liver. With excessive alcohol abuse, the degradation disrupts the function of the liver.

After consuming large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time, you get a fatty liver (accumulation of fat in the liver). The liver may swell. The effects of alcohol abuse on the liver may include pain, poor appetite, nausea, vomiting and sometimes jaundice occurs. The liver will recover when drinking is stopped.

The effects of alcohol abuse over the years can lead to liver cirrhosis: destroyed liver cells and scarring in the liver and the liver eventually stops functioning. Cirrhosis is a fatal disease.


The inside of the stomach lining is coated. The function of this lining is to protect the stomach lining against gastric acid. Excessive alcohol consumption can damage the mucous membrane and nasty diseases can be the result.

The effects of alcohol abuse on the stomach include stomach splints or an ulcer.


Drinking alcohol can cause heart disease. Examples include high blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia and strokes.

However, drinking no more than 1 to 2 glasses per day show a protective effect on the heart and blood vessels. This beneficial effect is only for healthy men and women over the age of 40.

Exercise, healthy eating, and not smoking are far better way to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Alcohol Abuse & Cancer

The risk of cancer of the mouth and pharynx, larynx, and oesophagus is increased by drinking more than three glasses of alcohol per day. Women, who have more than 2 glasses of alcohol a day, have an increased risk of breast cancer. Heavy drinkers also have the potential for cancer of the liver and colon.

The effects of alcohol abuse are far-reaching. Getting help as soon as possible will decrease the risk of liver cancer significantly.

Effects Of Alcohol Abuse on the body


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Houghton House’s holistic alcoholic treatment centre is located in Randburg, Gauteng. The treatment centres specialise in alcoholic recovery cases and have been treating patients suffering from drinking problems for the past twenty years.

Direct Helpline : +27 11 787 9142

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