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Long-term Negative Effects of Alcohol Consumption

Moderate alcohol consumption, such as occasional social drinking, can provide temporary relief from the stresses of our daily lives, and even some health benefits.

Long-term alcohol abuse is another matter entirely. Chronic heavy drinking can adversely affect one’s physiological and psychological well being and lead to major health problems such as chronic diseases, permanent brain damage, and even violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol use is the 3rd-leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S. Many serious health conditions associated with alcoholism and alcohol abuse can be prevented by understanding the potential consequences of long-term alcohol consumption.


Promotes swelling and joint inflammation; however, recent research suggests that rheumatoid arthritis patients who drink alcohol tend to experience less severe symptoms than those of non-drinkers


Causes lesions and neurological problems that include dementia, stroke, and neuropathy


Enhances risk of liver, pancreas, mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus, breast, colorectal, and other cancers

Digestive System

Gastrointestinal problems include pancreatitis and gastritis


Hastens shrinkage of important regions in the brain and can result in memory loss and other dementia symptoms

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

May harm the fetus and result in permanent physical and behavioral abnormalities


Aggravates existing conditions of gout, a form of arthritis

Heart Attack

Platelets are more likely to clump together and create blood clots, which can lead to heart attack or stroke

Heart Disease

Raises blood pressure, blood lipids, and the risk of stroke and heart disease


Elevates blood glucose levels


Lowers blood glucose levels

Kidney Disease

Enlarges the kidneys, increases risk of kidney disease and failure, and affects hormone production, which can result in reproductive problems

Liver Disease

May cause liver deterioration (fatty liver) and lead to alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver failure, and death


Damages cells lining the stomach and intestines, and blocks the absorption and breakdown of nutrients; interferes with the body’s ability to metabolize nutrients; and suppresses appetite


Diminishes protein synthesis and results in decreased muscle build-up

Nerve Damage

Compromises nerve function and produces pain or numbness in the extremities, and causes muscle weakness, incontinence, constipation, erectile dysfunction, and other problems

Nervous Disorders

Impairs balance and memory (dementia)


Reduces the body’s ability to burn fat, which can lead to weight gain


Reduces the body’s production of vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium uptake



Causes depression, anxiety, craving, irritability, and insomnia


Can cause epilepsy and trigger seizures even in individuals with no history of  epilepsy, and interferes with medications used to treat convulsions

Skin and Premature Aging

Dilates blood vessels and gives the skin a ruddy appearance