Most Insurances Accepted!
Call Ardu Recovery Center Today

What Are the Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction?

Written by Brandon Okey. Mina Draskovic, B.Psy., reviewed this content for accuracy.

Alcoholism can sneak up quietly, with drinking habits spiraling out of control before you realize it. But your body sends signals when something is amiss.

Pay attention to the physical symptoms of alcoholism and get the help you need to free yourself from alcohol abuse.

Table of Contents

Contact our alcohol rehab center to start your journey towards sobriety in a supportive and compassionate environment.

Ardu was the very best place for me to get the help I needed.I was so lost, I had lost everything I had to my drinking problem that went way back. I was ready for my so called life to end. They helped me work through my emotions and past trauma…I’m sober and I’m doing pretty good. I did go to a treatment center before Ardu and on day 16 I left against medical advice because I was not helped at all. I’m grateful for everyone at Ardu I owe them my life. I would refer anyone I know to Ardu.

Waylon Blackburn


What Are the Key Signs of an Alcoholic?

Certain behaviors, traits, and patterns can signal that someone’s relationship with alcohol is becoming unhealthy and potentially dangerous. Be aware of the telltale indicators that suggest alcohol abuse.

If you notice these behavioral and psychological signs of alcoholism in yourself or someone you care about, contact us.

  • Drinking despite negative consequences
  • Drinking alone or in secrecy
  • Sneaking alcohol or hiding it from others
  • Gulping drinks, binge drinking, or drinking quickly
  • Feeling unable to quit or cut back
  • Developing a high tolerance to alcohol’s effects due to heavy drinking
  • Worrying about where to get alcohol next
  • Irrational decision making and risky behavior, such as drinking and driving
  • Unexplained mood swings—depression, anger, euphoria
  • Inability to stop drinking alcohol
  • Neglecting responsibilities at work, school or home
  • Dropping hobbies and activities to spend time drinking
  • Strained relationships
  • Financial difficulties

Our Utah rehab center will help you break the cycle of dependence on alcohol. At Ardu Recovery Center, we provide comprehensive treatment for alcohol addiction, including medically-monitored detox, counseling, group support, and aftercare planning. Our goal is to help you reclaim sobriety and lifelong wellness.

What Are the Physical Signs of Alcohol Addiction?

When a person is addicted to alcohol, the consequences emerge across nearly every system of the body. Organs central to survival like the brain, liver, and heart bear the brunt of alcohol’s toxins. But the havoc also appears externally through skin ailments, distinct facial changes, and declining physical coordination. 

Let’s look at some of the telltale physical symptoms that indicate a problem with alcohol addiction.

General Physical Effects

  • Sudden weight fluctuations
  • Deteriorated dental health
  • Difficulty healing from wounds and injuries
  • Hair loss, brittle nails and hair

Negative Effects on the Nervous System

  • Memory impairment, blackouts
  • Severe headaches
  • Hand tremors
  • Slurred, erratic speech
  • Disrupted sleep cycles, insomnia

Negative Effects on the Cardiovascular System

  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Visible broken capillaries

Effects Related to the Digestive System

  • Frequent nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or other digestive issues
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Impaired kidney function
  • Impaired liver function

Skin-Related Symptoms of Alcoholism

  • Clammy, jaundiced skin
  • Acne, eczema
  • Dehydrated, prematurely aged skin
  • Bloodshot, glassy eyes
  • Excessive sweating and body odor

Let’s explain these in greater detail.

General Physical Symptoms of Alcohol Addiction

Many symptoms of alcoholism are directly tied to specific organ damage. However, people addicted to alcohol also experience more general physical effects across the body. Weight fluctuations, dental erosion, impaired wound healing, and hair loss are often symptoms that your addiction is progressing. 

These manifestations demonstrate how chronic alcoholism throws the entire body off balance, depriving it of essential nutrients and inhibiting normal regenerative processes.

Sudden Weight Fluctuations

Alcoholism often causes erratic weight changes—both gains and losses. Weight loss is a result of poor nutrition, an unhealthy diet, and decreased appetite when sober. Heavy drinking often involves heavy vomiting, and that’s another reason why an alcoholic might be losing weight. 

Weight gain results from increased calorie intake via alcohol, fluid retention, and poor food choices. The more you drink, the more calories you’re consuming, which can lead to excess belly fat accumulation known as the “beer belly”. A 2015 study found that “alcohol intake may be a risk factor for obesity in some individuals.”

These fluctuations in weight reflect the body’s imbalance and unstable metabolism.

Deteriorated Dental Health

Heavy drinking accelerates dental problems and leads to:

  • Enamel erosion
  • Cavities
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay
  • Tooth staining
How alcohol and drug abuse affects dental health.
How alcohol and drug abuse affects dental health. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2850152/

Many of these dental issues occur because alcohol dehydrates the mouth, creating a dry environment conducive to bacteria. Frequent vomiting associated with drinking increases stomach acid, which further damages tooth enamel. 

Researchers revealed that people who abuse both alcohol and drugs had a 38% higher chance of having tooth decay compared to the group who only abused alcohol. They proposed that alcohol might have a “caries reducing” effect due to its fluoride content or by inhibiting harmful bacteria in the mouth. Alcoholics might consume more sugary foods, which could increase their risk of cavities. Previous research in the United States and Finland found that alcoholics tend to have more missing teeth and dental issues. 

Regular professional cleanings and abstinence from alcohol could help reverse some dental damage.

Difficulty Healing from Injuries

Alcohol weakens the immune system. When not functioning properly, your immune system makes healing from wounds, burns and injuries more difficult. Heavy alcohol use seems to suppress immune factors that help repair damaged tissue and form scabs.

Clinicians have long observed an association between excessive alcohol consumption and adverse immune-related health effects such as susceptibility to pneumonia. In recent decades, this association has been expanded to a greater likelihood of acute respiratory stress syndromes (ARDS), sepsis, alcoholic liver disease (ALD), and certain cancers; a higher incidence of postoperative complications; and slower and less complete recovery from infection and physical trauma, including poor wound healing. (Sarkar, et. al.)

Poor circulation and nutrient absorption hinder the body’s ability to regenerate cells and mend itself. Even small cuts and scrapes may take longer to heal. Your weakened immune system is a good reason to cut back or stay away from alcohol.

Hair Loss and Brittle Nails and Hair

Nutritional deficiencies from heavy drinking deprive the body of proteins, vitamins and minerals essential for healthy hair, nails and skin. Ethanol, the type of alcohol in alcoholic drinks, acts as a diuretic. It causes the body to lose more fluid through increased urination and sweating, but this diuretic effect also leads to dehydration of the body and hair. 

Dehydrated hair is extremely prone to damage, including:

  • Brittle, dry hair that is hard to style and manage
  • Split ends from lack of moisture
  • Increased hair breakage and fragility
  • Hair loss as follicles are stressed by dehydration
  • Flaky, itchy dandruff caused by a dry scalp
  • Overproduction of oils as the skin tries to overcompensate for dehydration

This dehydration exacerbates both hair and nail brittleness. The nails tend to peel, split, and break more readily. Nail beds separate from the cuticle, allowing infections. Once glossy nails become ragged and dull with white spots and ridges. Read more on the dehydrating effects of alcohol.

The good news is that with proper nutrition and hydration after alcohol detox, hair and nails can regenerate. 

Our alcohol detox center offers a safe space and skilled medical professionals who help you manage the symptoms of alcohol addiction and find your way back to vitality. 

How Does Your Nervous System Warn You of Alcohol Addiction?

Heavy drinking can take a toll on your nervous system. When that starts happening, your body will show symptoms to warn you. 

Alcohol impairs the function of neurotransmitters—the brain’s chemical messengers—so nerves fail to optimally communicate and function. This can manifest through cognitive decline, motor impairment, and sleep disturbances. 

According to research, alcohol hijacks the brain’s reward and stress pathways by altering neurotransmitter activity, which drives addictive behaviors that can eventually lead to alcoholism. 

Here are some ways your body may be telling you to hit the brakes on the drinking:

  • You experience frequent memory problems, blackouts, and impaired cognition as alcohol destroys brain cells.
  • You get severe headaches as brain neurotransmitters are disrupted.
  • You feel tremors in your hands and body from harm to neurons that coordinate movement.
  • You slur when you speak and lack muscular control over the mouth and tongue.
  • You experience disrupted sleep cycles and insomnia as alcohol alters sleep architecture.

All these physical symptoms reflect the underlying neurological havoc wreaked by alcoholism. They are your body’s way of telling you it’s time to stop drinking and seek help—because wonderful things can happen to your brain when you say goodbye to the bottle.

With alcohol abstinence, proper nutrition, and therapeutic support, some healing of the nervous system is possible over time. That’s why it’s important to seek help quickly before the damage becomes permanent. 

If you or a loved one are abusing alcohol or struggling with alcoholism, safe, effective, and customized care is available. Contact us today to discuss treatment options that can help you regain health, safety, and sobriety.

How Does Alcohol Abuse Impact the Heart?

Alcohol does a real number on your heart and cardiovascular system. Here are some of the ways that alcohol-related heart damage manifests:

  • High blood pressure, as alcohol increases constriction of blood vessels.
  • Irregular, rapid or fluttering heart rates are caused by changes to heart tissue.
  • Breathlessness and dizziness result from inadequate oxygenation of blood.
  • Chest pain indicates strained heart muscles struggling to pump.
  • Visible spider veins and broken capillaries as blood vessels rupture.
  • Swelling of feet and hands due to fluid retention.

Similarly to your nervous system, your cardiovascular system makes its distress visible. When your heart and your entire circulatory system start to suffer under heavy alcohol use, they won’t shy away from showing. 

Listen to your body and make the life-saving choice to stop drinking now.

What Symptoms of Alcoholism Does Your Digestive System Reveal?

The gastrointestinal system bears the initial burden of alcohol consumption, exhibiting both acute and chronic symptoms that indicate alcohol is harming the body. These include:

  • Nausea and vomiting, especially in the mornings as the body reacts to toxins or during periods of heavy drinking.
  • Diarrhea is common in alcoholics due to inflammation and irritation of the intestines. Steatorrhea (oily, foul-smelling stools) may occur as heavy alcohol use starts to cause damage to the pancreas. 
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss occur because alcohol suppresses nutrient absorption and disrupts hunger signals.
  • Bloating and abdominal pain stem from gut inflammation, gastritis, and ulcer formation.
  • Hematemesis refers to vomiting blood, often caused by alcohol-related gastrointestinal bleeding.

As part of the delicate digestive tract, the liver and kidneys seem to be particularly vulnerable to alcohol’s toxic effects. Here’s how your kidneys and liver warn you to stay off booze:

  • Regular heavy drinking can lead to fatty liver disease, causing a swollen, enlarged organ. This disrupts the liver’s ability to filter toxins and produce essential proteins.
  • As damage advances, alcoholic hepatitis may develop with liver inflammation. This can cause jaundice, abdominal fluid buildup, easy bruising, and vomiting blood.
  • Further progression leads to liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. Hard scar tissue replaces soft liver tissue, severely impairing function. This can result in total liver failure. (Your liver will thank you when you quit drinking.)
  • The kidneys suffer direct harm from alcohol’s caustic byproducts. Alcoholic kidney disease involves a loss of nephrons, the kidney’s filtering units. This causes an inability to remove waste from the blood.
  • Symptoms of kidney impairment include: 
    • Reduced urine output
    • Edema
    • Fatigue
    • High blood pressure
    • Kidney infections
    • Kidney stones
    • Kidney failure 

Listen closely to your body’s outcries. They relay a message you cannot afford to ignore. With treatment, organ deterioration can be stopped before it’s too late. 

If you abuse alcohol or are addicted to alcohol, consider a qualified alcohol rehab to guide you through the stages of alcohol recovery. It’s much easier than doing it on your own.

Learn more about our caring rehab center in the beautiful Wasatch Mountains of Provo, Utah.

What Other Physical Complications Can Alcohol Abuse Cause?

Alcohol abuse can lead to devastating health consequences beyond the well-known effects of intoxication. Two of the most serious dangers of heavy drinking are alcohol poisoning and alcohol withdrawal.

Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Prolonged alcohol use leads to the development of tolerance and physical dependence, which may result from compensatory functional changes by downregulation of GABA receptors and increased expression of NMDA receptors with production of more glutamate to maintain central nervous system (CNS) transmitter homeostasis. (Jesse, et al.)

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms occur when someone who is alcohol dependent stops or dramatically reduces their alcohol consumption. The body has become so accustomed to the presence of alcohol that it reacts intensely when alcohol is suddenly withdrawn. 

Read all about the effects of alcohol on GABA.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as two hours after the last drink and peak at 24 to 72 hours. Symptoms may include:

  • Tremors, shaking, and muscle spasms
  • Anxiety, irritability, and restlessness
  • Insomnia and sleep difficulties
  • Abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting
  • Elevated blood pressure and heart rate
  • Agitation and mood swings
  • Seizures in severe cases
  • Delirium tremens (DTs) involving hallucinations and confusion

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning occurs when there is excessive alcohol in the bloodstream, causing toxic effects throughout the body’s systems. Blood alcohol concentrations reach hazardous levels that can lead to coma and death if not treated promptly. The most common symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Confusion, stupor, loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting while unconscious, which can lead to choking on vomit
  • Slow, irregular, or troubled breathing
  • Hypothermia, or low body temperature
  • Seizures
  • Slow heart rate and low blood pressure

As alcohol affects the gag reflex, respiratory drive, heart rate, body temperature regulation, and brain function, these vital systems become severely impaired and depressed by high blood alcohol levels in alcohol poisoning cases.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism emphasizes that teenagers and new drinkers are at a particularly high risk of alcohol poisoning because drinking such large quantities of alcohol when you’re not used to it can overwhelm the body’s ability to break down and clear alcohol from the bloodstream. Recognizing the signs and acting quickly can save lives.

Seek medical help through detox, ease the discomfort, and safely manage the health risks of alcohol withdrawal. Our alcohol detox center offers a safe space and skilled medical professionals who can help you manage withdrawal symptoms.

What Are the Skin-Related Symptoms of Alcohol Alcoholism?

Skin is the largest organ in your body, and it can conspicuously manifest alcohol’s adverse effects. Chronic heavy drinking takes a visible toll on your skin, etched into your outward appearance through symptoms like:

Here are some common skin-related symptoms of alcoholism:

  • Flushed skin and visible capillaries (spider veins).
  • Jaundice: yellowing of skin and eyes, indicating liver dysfunction.
  • Dehydrated, dry, rough skin texture.
  • Premature aging, wrinkling, and sagging due to collagen loss and dehydration.
  • Acne, rosacea, eczema flare ups.
  • Skin infections like cellulitis.
  • Vitamin deficiencies lead to conditions like rashes and pellagra.
  • Spider angiomas: small blood vessels with central red spot.
  • Purplish, reddish veins are visible on cheeks, nose, chin.
  • Swollen blood vessels due to high blood pressure.
  • Poor wound healing from circulatory impairments.

In many ways, the skin reveals alcoholism’s progression through a sickly, lackluster tone and texture. But it also demonstrates the body’s remarkable ability to regenerate when supported. 

With proper hydration, nutrition, and reduced alcohol intake, the skin’s youthful radiance can be restored. 

What Are the Risk Factors for Alcoholism?

Certain factors can increase someone’s risk of developing alcoholism. These risk factors make a person more vulnerable to problematic drinking patterns that spiral into alcohol dependence. 

Childhood physical abuse and exposure to parental violence are associated with the development of alcohol-related problems in adulthood. (Caetano, et al.)

Major factors that increase the risk of alcohol abuse include:

  • Family history of alcoholism: genetic predisposition makes some more prone to addiction
  • Mental health conditions: co-occurring disorders like anxiety, depression, PTSD, and bipolar disorder
  • Early age of first alcoholic drink: drinking at younger ages raises lifetime risk
  • Drinking to cope with stress, trauma, or emotional distress—Using alcohol as a maladaptive coping mechanism
  • Access and availability of alcohol: easy access promotes increased drinking
  • Peer group acceptance of heavy drinking: social influences and acceptance of excessive alcohol use

Knowing the risk factors can help guide preventative strategies and early interventions when a concerning pattern of drinking emerges. Seeking help at the first sign of alcohol abuse can prevent the progression to addiction and its damaging effects on health and well-being.

We are here for you every step of the way on your journey to recovery from alcohol addiction. 

What Are the Stages of Alcoholism?

Alcohol addiction often unfolds in a progressive sequence, beginning with recreational use and evolving into dependence and life disruption. While the pace varies individually, common stages of alcoholism are:

  1. Experimentation: you drink socially without dependence.
  2. Increased use: you look forward to drinking more frequently, begin to crave alcohol, and pre-plan consumption.
  3. Problem drinking: you start to experience blackouts, injuries, or other alcohol-related issues; this is where the early signs of loss of control emerge.
  4. High-functioning alcoholism: you’re starting to struggle to maintain relationships, careers and obligations in the face of increased drinking; you become more tolerant of heavy consumption without obvious impairment.
  5. Physical dependence: you drink primarily to avoid withdrawal symptoms; you start using alcohol as “medicine” to steady the nerves.
  6. Hitting bottom: you experience severe life consequences from alcoholism, but you’re unable to abstain without help; your relationships, jobs, health and stability are suffering.
  7. Recovery: the realization finally sets in that alcohol use is problematic.

While addiction creates a downward spiral, recovery is an upward trajectory. Seeking help before reaching that devastating point leads to better outcomes. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and professional treatment centers offer essential support for maintaining recovery once the commitment to sobriety solidifies.

Our Utah rehab center will help you break the cycle of dependence on alcohol. At Ardu Recovery Center, we provide comprehensive treatment for alcohol addiction, including medically-monitored detox, counseling, group support, and aftercare planning. Our goal is to help you reclaim sobriety and lifelong wellness.

How to Treat Alcohol Abuse and Addiction?

Overcoming alcohol addiction is a challenging but courageous journey. With professional guidance, compassionate support, and proven treatments, a flourishing recovery is possible. At Ardu, we offer a full spectrum of alcohol treatment options to help you triumph over alcoholism.

I loved every moment I spent at Ardu. I really got the therapy and support I have been needing so badly over the years. They are so kind and loving that I came back to work and I love it even more as an employee. The environment is so peaceful. It’s beautiful place for healing. 💛✨

Chandler Lindley


Alcohol Detox

The first step in treating alcohol dependence is safely managing withdrawal symptoms through detox. We offer both medical detox and holistic detox supervised by caring experts.

Medical detox uses medications to relieve alcohol withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, tremors, insomnia, and seizures. Holistic detox relies on nutrition therapy, supplements, acupuncture, exercise therapy, and other non-pharmacological therapies to aid your body’s natural detoxification.

Ardu offers medical and holistic detox. With around-the-clock monitoring and supportive care, we ensure your comfort and safety during this pivotal transition.

Alcohol Rehab

Once detoxification is complete, the real work of rehabilitation begins through our comprehensive alcohol abuse and addiction treatment programs.

Inpatient treatment at our welcoming residential facilities surrounds you with 24/7 support. Outpatient treatment programs, such as partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, offer flexible solutions to maintain your home and work routines or receive treatment while in a sober living facility.

We use proven forms of psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, experiential therapies, and family therapy. Together we’ll uncover the root causes of your alcoholism and acquire the skills needed for recovery.

Patient care at Ardu goes beyond treating the addiction itself. We’ll help you improve all areas of health and wellness for complete healing of mind, body, and spirit. Our goal is to empower you to thrive in lifelong sobriety.

Alcohol Addiction and Mental Health Conditions

The close link between substance abuse and mental health disorders is well established. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), people  battling alcohol addiction often have a co-occurring mental illness like depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, or bipolar disorder.

We’re highly experienced in dual diagnosis treatment, simultaneously addressing both the addiction and associated psychiatric symptoms. Integrated care leads to better outcomes.

Our comprehensive psychiatric services and dual diagnosis treatment make Ardu Recovery Center the right choice for anyone struggling with substance abuse and mental health disorders. Contact us today to discuss your unique needs—help is always available.

Our dual diagnosis services include:

How to Enroll

Anyone struggling with alcohol abuse or addiction can enroll in our alcohol addiction treatment program. Our recovery center welcomes people with alcoholism seeking help to overcome their addiction. Our dedicated team of professionals is here to guide and support you in your addiction treatment process, laying the foundation for long-term sobriety and relapse prevention.

To enroll in an Ardu alcohol rehab program, contact Ardu Recovery Center online or via phone (801-810-1234). We will work with you to find a recovery path that works for you during the detox process and beyond. 

Read our admissions process page for additional information.

Brandon Okey

Brandon Okey is the co-founder of Ardu Recovery Center and is dedicated to empowering people on their journey to sobriety.

Alcohol Addiction FAQ

What are the 4 types of drinker?

The four types of drinkers are social drinkers, moderate drinkers, heavy drinkers, and problem drinkers.

  1. Social drinkers consume alcohol primarily in social settings and usually in moderation, without it negatively affecting their daily lives.
  2. Moderate drinkers consume alcohol occasionally and in moderate amounts and maintain a balanced approach to alcohol consumption.
  3. Heavy drinkers consume alcohol frequently and in larger quantities, which often leads to negative consequences on their health and personal life.
  4. Problem drinkers, also known as people with alcohol use disorder, struggle with controlling their alcohol intake, which leads to significant disruptions in their relationships, work, and overall well-being.

What can trigger an alcoholic?

Factors that can trigger an alcoholic to start drinking can include stress, trauma, and social influences. It’s best to avoid these triggers as best as you can, especially if you’re new to sobriety.

How much alcohol makes you an alcoholic?

The quantity of alcohol alone doesn’t determine alcoholism; it’s more about the relationship with alcohol and its impact on a person’s life. Stopping drinking can be challenging for someone with alcoholism, while people who are not addicted to alcohol can stop without many issues.

Can alcoholism cause health conditions such as cancer?

Alcoholism can increase the risk of developing health conditions like psoriasis, liver issues, and cancer (especially pancreatic cancer and liver cancer). Alcoholism can significantly increase the risk of developing cancer. Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol over many years damages cells and weakens the body’s ability to repair DNA damage, which can lead to uncontrolled cell growth and cancer.

Seek medical advice and guidance from healthcare providers when dealing with such medical conditions related to alcoholism.

What is alcohol use disorder (AUD)?

Alcohol use disorder (AUD), also known as alcoholism, is a medical condition characterized by a physical and emotional addiction to alcohol. It means a person has a strong dependence on alcohol, often leading to a loss of control over their drinking behavior. 

People with AUD may continue to drink despite experiencing negative consequences in their daily life, such as health problems, relationship issues, and difficulties at work or school. AUD can range from mild to severe, and it’s diagnosed based on specific criteria, including the presence of alcohol cravings, tolerance (needing more alcohol to achieve the desired effect), and withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. AUD is a serious health concern and often requires medical intervention and support to overcome.

What is a physical and emotional addiction to alcohol?

Physical addiction to alcohol means that a person’s body has become dependent on it. When they stop drinking, they experience withdrawal symptoms, which can include shaky hands, sweating, nausea, and anxiety. The body has adapted to having alcohol regularly, and it craves it to function normally.

Emotional addiction to alcohol, on the other hand, is a psychological dependence. It means that a person feels a strong emotional need for alcohol to cope with stress, anxiety, or other emotions. They may turn to alcohol as a way to escape from their problems or to feel better emotionally. This emotional attachment to alcohol can be just as powerful as the physical dependence and can make quitting alcohol particularly challenging.

What organ does alcohol affect the most?

Alcohol primarily affects the liver. The liver is responsible for processing alcohol in the body. When you drink alcohol, your liver works to break it down and remove it from your system. However, excessive and prolonged alcohol consumption can cause significant damage to the liver.

Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to various liver conditions, including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. These conditions can range from mild to severe and can result in liver inflammation, scarring, and impaired liver function. Severe liver damage, such as cirrhosis, can be life-threatening and may require a liver transplant.

How does alcohol affect you mentally?

Alcohol can have various effects on mental health, including:

  1. Mood swings. Alcohol can lead to mood swings, causing people to alternate between feeling happy and relaxed to irritable and angry.
  2. Depression. Excessive alcohol consumption can contribute to or worsen depression. It affects the brain’s chemistry and can lead to feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
  3. Anxiety. While alcohol can initially relieve anxiety temporarily, it often leads to increased anxiety and panic attacks, especially during withdrawal.
  4. Impaired judgment. Alcohol impairs cognitive functions, leading to poor decision-making and risky behaviors.
  5. Mental illness. Prolonged alcohol abuse can increase the risk of mental disorders such as bipolar disorder and exacerbate existing mental health conditions.
  6. Memory problems. Heavy drinking can cause memory issues, impacting both short-term and long-term memory.
  7. Cognitive decline. Chronic alcohol abuse may lead to cognitive decline and impairments in thinking and memory.

Every person experiences different effects on mental health from excessive drinking. Some people may be more vulnerable to its negative impact. It’s important to seek help for alcohol-related mental health issues, as treatment often involves both medical and psychological interventions.


Traversy, G., & Chaput, J. (2015, January 8). Alcohol Consumption and Obesity: An Update. Current Obesity Reports; Springer Science+Business Media. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13679-014-0129-4

Dasanayake, A. P., Warnakulasuriya, S., Harris, C. K., Cooper, D., Peters, T. J., & Gelbier, S. (2010, January 1). Tooth Decay in Alcohol Abusers Compared to Alcohol and Drug Abusers. International Journal of Dentistry; Hindawi Publishing Corporation. https://doi.org/10.1155/2010/786503

Sarkar, D. (2015). Alcohol and the Immune System. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4590612/

Valenzuela, C. F. (1997). Alcohol and Neurotransmitter Interactions. PubMed Central (PMC). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826822/#

Jesse, S., Bråthen, G., Ferrara, M., Keindl, M., Ben-Menachem, E., Tanasescu, R., Brodtkorb, E., Hillbom, M., Leone, M., & Ludolph, A. (2016, September 1). Alcohol withdrawal syndrome: mechanisms, manifestations, and management. Acta Neurologica Scandinavica, 135(1), 4–16. https://doi.org/10.1111/ane.12671

Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). (n.d.). https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/understanding-dangers-of-alcohol-overdose

Association Between Childhood Physical Abuse, Exposure to Parental Violence, and Alcohol Problems in Adulthood – Raul Caetano, Craig A. Field, Scott Nelson, 2003. (n.d.). Sage Journals. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0886260502250074

SAMHSA – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (n.d.). https://www.samhsa.gov/

Related Topics

Can alcohol affect birth control?

Alcohol abuse statistics in the United States

Is there such a thing as an alcoholic personality?

Is alcohol a drug?

How long does it take to detox from alcohol?

How to help a loved one struggling with alcohol addiction

Can you reverse the effects of alcoholism?

How much alcohol leads to addiction?