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Long Term Effects of Alcohol

By: Sam Harrington-Lowe - Updated: 16 Oct 2016 | comments*Discuss
Long Term Drinking Effects Of Alcohol

Short term drinking can lead to all sorts of problems, like memory loss, terrible hangovers, unacceptable behaviour etc, but long term, the implications of continued heavy drinking are very serious indeed.

No prizes for guessing that, and pretty much everyone will be aware that long term alcohol abuse will lead to liver problems, but it can also lead to problems with high blood pressure, can cause serious heart disease, is a major factor in the incidence of breast cancer, and can cause strokes. Serious stuff.

The liver, fortunately, is a clever organ that has the power to regenerate and can mend itself, but the other problems can be irreparable if the alcoholic persists in continued heavy drinking.

What Happens to the Body?

On a daily or regular basis, waking up and finding yourself feeling dreadful after drinking too much the night before, and it can really drag you down. More often than not, the only way to feel better is to start drinking again.

So the hangover's gone? Everything OK now? Absolutely not. The damage being inflicted on the body by this habitual and continuous abuse is far reaching.

Weight Gain

Alcohol contains a lot of calories, due to its high sugar content, and this can and does very often lead to weight increase. It's not just the intake of alcohol though that causes the weight gain. Alcoholics are often guilty of having bad eating habits, as drinking removes the desire for food, and then gives it back in spades at inappropriate times. Late night eating is common as heavy drinkers will often find that eating during the day is impossible until they have a good few drinks under their belt, and the more extrovert and social alcohol abusers are often visitors to the late night kebab shop!


Alcohol dehydrates the body terribly and of course this is going to have an effect on your skin. It will become dull and dry, often giving the drinker a pasty or wrinkled appearance. But alcohol also dilates the body's capillaries, those tiny thread-like veins under the skin and they can then break, leading to redness and broken veins, particularly on the face. That big red nose that is the 'sign of a drinker' is no myth.


Just like the capillaries in your skin, the blood vessels in your eyes will suffer the same fate, leading to bloodshot eyes. Sometimes when the liver is affected the whites of the eyes can also take on a yellowish colour too.

Bad smell

On waking, that rather sour morning after smell is due to the liver struggling to process the overload of alcohol passed through it. It does this by excreting it through sweat and urine, and this leads to that all-over bad smell. Including your breath of course.

Cuts and Bruises

Alcoholics and alcohol abusers are very often aggressive and violent and will also be accident prone, falling over a lot and knocking into things. Their bodies will bear testimony to this, often being scarred, cut or bruised a lot.

In the Long Term

Apart from all the issues above, there are far more serious implications for the long term drinker.

  • Cirrhosis or cancer of the liver
  • Breast cancer
  • Damage to the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy)
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Infertility
  • Strokes (cerebral haemorrhage)
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Impotence or other sexual problems
  • Pancreatitis
  • Ulcers
  • Alcohol poisoning

But it's not just about physical symptoms either. The mental state is also affected long term

  • Depression
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Personality breakdown
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Affected sexual performance
  • Dementia
  • Hallucinations
  • Memory loss and blackouts
  • Mood swings

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I have been trying to decide if I should bring this up or not, but I have nothing to lose by talking, so here goes. My husband came out of alcohol rehab a few months ago.I feel very proud of him for finding the strength to do that.Life with him now is still difficult as he struggles to find his place in the world. What I wanted to talk about is something I feel is neglected in the field of rehab.Regaining a healthy sex life.Since coming out of rehab, my husband had withdrawn from me completely, sexually.I don't know how to approach this with him, but surely regaining that part of our relationship is an important part of it.It seems to me though that it is just not talked about. I would like to know if this is to be expected, and any advice would be welcomed.This is causing pain between us.
"B" - 30-Sep-12 @ 10:49 AM
My s3 yr old son is an alcoholic,he is 1 of life nice guys but drink is killing him+myself,he was warned to stop instantly last yr+did for 12 wks?he has been thru a lot in life,he was abused as a child by an uncle as was my younger sister who is only 2 yrs older than him,we dealt with this as a family+he seamed 2 get by this stage gradually,he was in his 1st job from age 16 till he was made unemployed at age 25 at which time his relationship ended due 2 the stress+drinking was getn worse,he was engaged 2 marry+ending the relationship almost drove him 2 a break down,he came back 2 stay with me but it wasnt like anything id ever known with my son,we got him a flat which he still has but he doesnt bother cleaning it much+neglecting himself+his hygiene which is horrible+nothing like my son b4 the drinking took over,he is agoraphobic,a total bag of nerves,has thyroid problemss+suffers deep severe depressions on+off,he is on flat benifits+is always near penniless b4 he even gets his money+12 days in the fortnight he is asking me 4 food+at times money 4 drink,if he has a few pounds to get him by he will still ask me for food+use his money 2 buy alcohol,we lost my mum just over a yr ago suddenly+my son was a terrific help+with his gran when she came off life support as were all her family+6 wks later my dad got told his lung cancer was back,my son helped me nurse my dad at home+he passed away peacefully with my sister my sons+i at his side,my mum+dad where the only people my son visited every cpl days+i know he feels lonely+heartbroken as i do without them,my grandkids love their uncle,his wee niece is 4+nephew 10 but they notice he keeps getn food from me+that he is here every morning to get a breakfast,im at my wits end+people seem to just say tell him 2 go buy his own food etc+i maybe ought to but the thought of losing him quicker with starving himself rather the eat or buy food so as to buy drink makes me angry,he had no father figure as a toddler or in growing up,i had to divorce his father as the violence thru his alcoholism was to say the least extreme+i was hospitalised twice,he even asked me to go back to him+let his sister take my beautiful baby boy so we could try make a life together,i cannot write what i told him,he has never bothered with his two lovely sons since they were aged 4+a newborn baby son,my sons father went on to meet someone else who was a heroin addict+became 1 himself which also caused my son some bullying when he was growing up+he was bullie at school for over twilo yrs b'cos cpl boys gave him a hard time for his dad being an addict,which was nothing to do with my sons or myself,i feel this will end in tragedy,my son+i talk+its breaking his heart when he gives me a hard time when wanting money for drink,he isnt a violent son but sometimes i feel its mental cruelty+it hurs+frustrates me so much,his brother is close to him+hasnt a clue what to do+is terrified he will lose his big brother,my son feels his world has collapsed i
carol331 - 26-Sep-12 @ 6:23 PM
Hi, I am suffering from this alcoholism now i am 33 i started alcoholismin the age 16 but on that time i was drinking once in a month but since from 5years i am drinking weekly thrice i will only not knowing how much i will going to drink but in the morning i will be laying somewhere else. after that i will mastrubute so many times when i drink,, now i am facing a problem in my stomach, heart and seviour back pain, i have done ECG and scanning also done but doctor says that everything is normal so please suggest me what to do even i want to quit this alcohol.I am trying quit this from past 2years but i am failing so please suggest me what to do. I am worried that my liver, kidney and my heart may be having problem. But doctor says that nothing to worry.
manju - 4-May-12 @ 8:30 AM
heres one for any readers who may see this...i am 31 years old.. from a long line of alcoholics... it began for me at age 15 with friends...then progressed!i was stabbed in my sleep over 20 times in 2003... since then its been nonstop..a 30 pack a day is a light day.. yet i can still PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY FUNCTION...? however the emotional impact has wreaked havoc on my life (or what was once a life) now im forever hopless... cant work... cant be a dad for my kids... i drink alone all day every day.. and now that is my life...
anothervictim! - 26-Dec-11 @ 12:43 AM
what happens to the body after drinking 4/5 pints of bitter every night for the last 17 years ?
dee - 5-Oct-11 @ 11:55 AM
I personally do drink. However the amount of people who sit around and binge drink is absolutely unbeleivable. It disgusts me when i'm driving to work in the morning, through the nearest town/village/city and the amount of people sleeping in bus stops and in the streets with pints and bottles of beer next to them.
Rev - 16-Sep-11 @ 12:12 PM
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