9 Destructive Effects of Alcohol Addiction on Human Health

Alcohol addiction, or alcoholism as it is commonly referred to, is a condition in which a person is unable to control his or her drinking. An individual who is addicted to the alcohol experiences a physical compulsion to look for and drink alcohol, sometimes even at the oddest of hours, as well as a mental craving.


​Not every person who drinks alcohol can be described as an alcoholic. Some of the characteristics that distinguish people addicted to alcohol and set them apart from regular drinkers include drinking at odd hours, drinking in secret, craving for alcohol and drinking large amounts of alcohol to get drunk.

Several health & medical conditions have been closely linked to alcohol addiction. In fact, even moderate alcohol consumption has got its fair share of health-related problems. Research has shown that the health effects of alcohol are more pronounced in women than they are in men.

That is not to say that these effects on men are not dangerous. On the contrary, the fact that there are more male than female drinkers means that men have a bigger problem with it. There are just as many health effects of alcohol on the former that is life threatening.​

The health effects of alcohol addiction can be divided into two groups according to their severity and seriousness. The first group is made up of mild health effects that are not necessarily life-threatening and most of which usually fade off naturally with time. A good example is hangovers.​

A hangover is not a single condition but rather a collection of the same. It is characterized by headaches and fatigue along with nausea. Some of the other mild health effects of alcoholism include the following:​

1. Memory Loss

Often referred to as blackouts, memory loss is very common among heavy drinkers. These people end up losing large chunks of memory thanks to the alcohol.

2. Weak Eye Muscles

Heavy alcohol consumption weakens eye muscles significantly. This, coupled with the sedative effect of alcohol on the brain, is the reason behind the heavy sleep after excessive alcohol consumption.

3. Erectile Dysfunction

Men addicted to alcohol are much more likely to have difficulties in attaining an erection or sustaining the same.

The other group of alcoholism-related health effects is made up of conditions that can be life-threatening. Unfortunately, most of these circumstances, once developed, cannot be treated and may only grow worse. They include;

4. Cancer

People addicted to alcohol are more likely to develop several different types of cancer. Some of the cancers who have been linked to alcoholism include cancer of the esophagus, mouth, colon, liver, breast, rectum, pharynx and prostrate.

In fact, alcohol and smoking have been cited as the leading causes of bowel cancer in men, according to an international study. Moderate drinking too carries with it some level of risk of cancer, albeit a much smaller one.​

As revealed in another study, the risk of pancreatic cancer can be increased by as much as 22% by consuming just two drinks every day.

5. Neural Problems

Disordered/confused thinking, dementia, and numbness, especially in the lower extremities, are problems of the nervous system that have been linked to alcohol addiction.

6. Diabetes Type 2

The risk of developing diabetes type 2 is much higher among alcoholics. The health effects are even worse for people who already have diabetes. This is because alcohol causes hypoglycemia by preventing the liver from releasing glucose.

Hypoglycemia could be catastrophic for a cancer patient since he is already trying to lower his blood sugar levels by taking insulin.

7. Heart Problems and Hypertension

Alcoholism and regular heavy drinking can cause heart failure, cardiomyopathy even strokes. All of these are severe conditions that can easily result in death. Also, regular, heavy alcohol intake raises blood pressure and can easily cause hypertension.

8. Cirrhosis and Hepatitis

These are the two liver diseases that can be traced back to alcoholism. Liver cirrhosis is a progressive and irreversible damage to the liver and can be terminal. It is usually characterized by shaking and trembling in different parts of the body for no apparent reason.

9. Gastritis

This is a gastrointestinal complication that compromises the body’s ability to produce metabolism-regulating hormones, absorb some vitamins and digest food.