Alcohol abuse can negatively affect a person’s health, but consuming alcohol in moderation can actually improve quality and length of life. Alcohol is known to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. Because of this, moderate drinkers tend to live longer than those who abstain from drinking or abuse alcohol.
The Department of Health says that it is safe, relatively speaking, for men to drink up to 3 units of alcohol per day and for women to drink up to 2 units of alcohol per day. The average human can break down 1 unit of alcohol per hour. To give an idea of how much this is, one pint of lager or cider holds 2 units, and a small glass of wine holds 1.5 units.
However, many people do not or cannot draw the line at a couple of drinks. For heavy drinkers, the possibility of developing serious health problems is high. Alcohol affects the body internally and externally, along with a person’s mental and psychological well-being.
Alcohol consumption can lead to addiction. If the need to drink is constant, then a person may be addicted to alcohol or on the road to addiction. Alcohol can also cause depression. Although initially drinkers may feel a sense of euphoria, it is short lived. In the long-term, heavy drinkers are more likely to suffer from depression because alcohol alters the brain’s chemistry. Alcohol also affects memory, even at moderate levels of consumption.
Alcohol affects nearly every organ in the body; it increases a person’s chances of developing certain types of cancer, including bowel, mouth, breast, and food pipe cancer. Despite the fact that drinking can decrease a person’s likelihood of developing heart disease, excessive drinking can actually damage the heart and lead to high blood pressure.
The liver is an organ that is particularly prone to alcohol damage. The first stage of liver damage is fatty liver, and more serious conditions include hepatitis and cirrhosis. Alcohol can also cause inflammation of the stomach lining, causing a person to feel nauseous and experience stomach pain. Furthermore, alcohol is toxic to sperm, so men run the risk of infertility.
On the body’s exterior, excessive drinking can permanently enlarge skin blood vessels, resulting in a permanent flushed look. It inflames the skin, making certain skin conditions, such as rosacea and psoriasis, worsen. Alcohol also is high in calories and can lead to weight gain. Many people, mostly men, develop what is known as a “”beer belly.”" Being overweight has its own health risks (e.g., diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure).