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The Impact of Drinking Alcohol in The Human Body

Updated on April 15, 2014
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Flaming Cocktails | Source
A store in the US
A store in the US | Source

The cells of the body are meant to keep a person alive. Put a heavy drinker into the equation and it spells disaster. It doesn't matter what type of drink, but what does matter is the alcohol content.

Alcohol is ethanol. Ethanol has fat-soluble and water-soluble components, which the small intestines and stomach absorb very quickly. Once the bloodstream picks up the alcohol, it moves more than 90 percent of these components to the liver. In the liver, enzymes quickly breakdown these components to a nontoxic form known as acetate or acetic acid. This process can only detoxify so much in any given hour.

One enzyme, catalase, fights against toxin attacks on the body. Catalase is known to help in alcohol dehydrogenase. When alcohol or ethanol enters the blood, these enzymes convert ethanol to acetaldehyde. The process doesn't end at this enzyme. Acetaldehyde is toxic to the human body at high levels.

The Human Liver

The largest gland in the human body happens to be the liver. The liver also is the second most vital organ in the human body. It's condition and activities impact everything in the body. It would be impossible to try to digest or absorb food without this gland. The cells of the body could not synthesize or take up carbohydrates, proteins, or lipids. A person cannot live without a functioning liver.

Plasma protein is made by the liver. These proteins are vital in blood clotting, maintaining fluid environment internally, immunity, and many other vital tasks. The liver also rids the body of many other toxic compounds.

Drinking alcohol in large quantities hinders the natural condition of the liver, which in many instances becomes fatal.

Continuous heavy drinking, over time, causes the liver's capacity to tolerate ethanol or alcohol to diminish because liver cells die, enzymes are fewer, therefore intoxication is hindered.

Alcoholic Cirrhosis happens from permanent scarring of the liver. Over time, the liver stops functioning and becomes fatal. In alcoholic hepatitis, widespread liver tissue damage and inflammation occurs.



Someone who misuses alcohol can develop any number of mental health issues. Cognitive functions can become altered and in some cases severely. Approximately 10% of dementia cases are related to alcohol consumption. It is the second leading cause of dementia. Excessively drinking alcohol can and will cause severe damage to the overall functioning of the brain.

A serious problem among campuses in the U.S. is binge drinking. Binge drinking is consuming very large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time. A recent survey shows that 44% of sutdents on campuses report drinking an average of five drinks a day.

Binge drinking can do much more damage than that of the liver. There are a reported 500,000 injuries, over 50,000 date rapes, and over 400,000 unprotected sex cases per year. Also binge drinking can cause a person's heart to just stop beating.

Social Effects

An individual who consumes acohol at a high rate continuously can suffer in many ways, including socially. These effects are caused by the intoxicating effect and pathological effects in the brain. A person who drinks excessively cannot hold a steady job, cannot maintain a relationship, and usually develops financial problems. Isolation can occur from family and friends causing a wide range of emotional problems. One of the many causes of divorce is alcoholism.

Alcohol problems are associated with a higher risk of commiting crimes such as theft, rape, child abuse or neglect, domestic violence, and assault. Many criminal charges and legal problems can be tied to alcohol.

Alcoholic problems can lead to deep drepression in the drinker or the family of the drinker.

What Are The Treatments Of Liver Damage?

  1. The first step is to stop drinking alcohol. Join AA and admit you have a serious problem. Continuing to drink after a diagnosis of liver disease is sealing your own fate.
  2. Physicians recommend a person lower their fat intake. Fatty intake interferes with alcohol metabolism. Doctors also recommend a supplement of vitamins and minerals, especially calcium and iron. A caloric-rich diet to help in the restoration of the liver. A diet high in protein is also recommended.
  3. Some medications can help. Corticosteroids is used for very severe cases. A drug such as anticytokines can be used to modify metabolism. A medicine known as colchicine is used to inhibit hepatic fibrosis.
  4. A liver transplant many be the only option. However, there aren't enough livers available for everyone suffering from liver failure. For a person to be placed on the list, there must be no alcohol consumption within six months.

If you need assistance in your journey to stop drinking please call Alcoholics anonymous at (212) 870-3400 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (212) 870-3400 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.


  1. Mihai, B.; Lăcătuşu, C.; Graur, M. (April–June 2008). "[Alcoholic ketoacidosis]". Rev Med Chir Soc Med Nat Iasi 112 (2): 321–6
  2. Schuckit MA (November 1983). "Alcoholism and other psychiatric disorders". Hosp Community Psychiatry 34 (11): 1022–7


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    • libby1970 profile image

      libby1970 5 years ago from KY

      Thanks for your comments. I appreciate everyone's input. Thanks again.

    • profile image

      Ginger Ruffles 5 years ago

      Very informative hub Libby!

    • michememe profile image

      Miche Wro 5 years ago

      I enjoyed reading this hub. It's very informative. I have been looking at reason's to cut down my drinking, socially well here it is. I have a young daughter and I must (if God decides) live to see her go through the phases of life. Thank you for sharing this information.

    • NarcononVistaBay profile image

      NarcononVistaBay 5 years ago from California

      This is a good hub that is just saying the truth about alcohol and that our society tries to ignore in every family or social gathering.

    • Ambyotic profile image

      Ambyotic 5 years ago from New Hampshire

      Thank you for this eye opening experience!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are preaching to the choir with this hub...close to six years sober and I'm one of the lucky alcoholics who didn't do much damage to his body or mind. Excellent hub!

    • annerivendell profile image

      annerivendell 5 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      I've been reading this while sitting in the sun and sipping a beer. Suddenly the beer just doesn't taste as good as it did a moment ago...Thank you for a well researched and interesting article.