How alcohol affects your body

How alcohol affects your body
Photo by Stanislav Ivanitskiy / Unsplash

Almost billions of people  enjoy a drink. In fact, alcohol is  most widely used social drug. Like all drugs, alcohol can damage your body, especially if you drink heavily every day or in binges. Even small amounts of alcohol are still linked to the development of certain diseases, including numerous cancers.

Alcohol affects your body in many ways. Some effects are immediate and last only a while; others accumulate over time and may significantly affect your physical and mental health and quality of life.

How much harm alcohol causes your body depends on how much you drink, your pattern of drinking, and even the quality of the alcohol you drink. Your body size and composition, age, drinking experience, genetics, nutritional status, metabolism, and social factors all play a part as well.

What is binge drinking and how does it affect your body?

Generally, binge drinking means drinking heavily over a short period of time with the intention and result of getting immediately and severely intoxicated (drunk).

In the short term, binge drinking may result in a hangover, alcohol poisoning, or any of the other short-term effects of alcohol consumption, such as accidents and violence, discussed above.

In the long term, binge drinking may result in any of the long-term effects of alcohol consumption, such as heart disease, cancer, liver cirrhosis and diabetes.

Some of the most common alcohol-related harms include:

road and other accidents

domestic and public violence


family breakdown

social dysfunction

cardiovascular disease

cancers, including of the oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, liver, colorectum and female breast


nutrition-related conditions, such as folate deficiency and malnutrition

overweight and obesity

risks to unborn babies

liver diseases

mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, and interference with antidepressant medication

alcohol tolerance and alcohol dependence or addiction

long-term cognitive impairment

self-harm (suicide).

Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease.  Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much.  Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body’s ability to ward off infections – even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.