The effects alcohol has on your body

As I’m sure you are well aware of, the vast majority of us have spent the last few weeks staying indoors due to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, with no end in sight any time soon. These are unprecedented times, and can be extremely worrying, stressful and even boring, so it may be extremely tempting to turn to alcohol for people. The World Health Organisation (WHO) have warned that alcohol is an “unhelpful coping strategy” for dealing with both the isolation and stress of a lockdown.

The pubs may be closed at the moment, but a lot of people are accustomed to having a few drinks at the weekend, or when they come home from work in the evenings, and now that their routine is gone, may be drinking excessive amounts of alcohol without even knowing or because of simply being bored. When you combine this with ‘stress-drinking’, many of us may be consuming too much alcohol as a coping mechanism. In this blog, we will discuss the harmful effects alcohol has on our bodies.

Binge Drinking

Many of us enjoy drinking alcohol, but drinking heavily every day or even binge drinking (drinking heavily over a short period of time) can have harmful effects on your body. Even the consumption of smaller volumes of alcohol has been proven to be linked to the development of diseases. The effects on your body can be varied and numerous. We will look at both the short-term and long-term effects in this blog as some effects can be short in duration but immediate, while others can develop over longer period of times and can significantly impact your mental and physical health as well as our quality of life.

For many people, particularly in Ireland, all celebrations, birthdays, graduations, social events, milestones and even dining experiences directly involve and sometimes even revolve around alcohol. Even religious events such as weddings, communion and confirmation parties and funerals all involve the consumption of alcohol for many. This is all despite the recognised harmful effects drinking excessive amounts of alcohol has on our health.

There are many factors that contribute to the impact alcohol has on your health. These include your age, gender, size, genetics, metabolism, your experience of drinking previously as well as other social factors. Aspects such as how much you drink, your alcoholic beverages of choice, the pattern and sometimes even the quality of alcohol consumed.

The Short-Term Effects of Alcohol

Even just the excessive consumption of alcohol on a single occasion or binge drinking can have immediate effects on your body, which can elevate the risk of many health conditions. Short term effects of alcohol include:

  • Injuries or accidents – e.g. car crashes, drownings, falling, burns and fires
  • Reduced inhibitions
  • Violence – e.g. murder, suicide and sexual assault
  • Alcohol poisoning – can be a life-threatening emergency
  • Altered Behaviour – e.g. Risky or violent behaviour including hazardous sexual behaviours such as unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners
  • Interpersonal Conflict
  • Risks to pregnant women – e.g. Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders
  • Hangover

These short-term effects of alcohol can vary in severity based on the quantities of alcohol consumed, hydration and food consumption.

The Long-Term Effects of Alcohol

Consuming excessive quantities of alcohol over time can lead to many long-term issues and diseases which can be extremely serious. Consuming an average of more than two standard drinks each day can lead to these health problems. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated that there are more than 200 various diseases or injuries associated with the consumption of alcohol. Some of these long-term effects include:

  • High blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems
  • Cancer – breast, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, and colorectum
  • Diabetes
  • Learning and memory problems e.g. dementia
  • Violence – e.g. domestic and public
  • Crime
  • Mental health problems e.g. depression and anxiety
  • Social Dysfunction e.g. lost productivity, unemployment, family breakdown and family issues
  • Alcohol tolerance and dependence or alcoholism
  • Nutrition-related issues – e.g. folate deficiency and malnutrition
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Risks to unborn babies
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Self-harm including suicide

An individual’s entire life can be negatively impacted by the consumption of alcohol over time, including their physical health, mental health, employment status, finances as well as their relationships with friends and family.

To conclude, with your regular daily routines being non-existent at the moment, and stress levels heightened due to COVID-19 (coronavirus), you might be consuming more alcohol without even noticing. We would recommend to keep track of what you are drinking just to be more conscious of the volumes of alcohol consumed. If you or a loved one are having problems with alcohol you don’t need to go through it alone. There are thousands of others out there who are in the same situation. Start with your GP, who can recommend and refer you to appropriate treatments and services. Or give us a call at Tabor Group and we will guide you through the various options for residential treatment. With decades of experience in dealing with addiction, you will be in safe and confidential hands.

Tabor Group

Tabor Group is a leading provider of residential addiction treatment services in Ireland. We provide support and care to hundreds of clients suffering from addictions to alcohol, substances, gambling and eating disorders. For more information on Tabor Group’s services click here.