The Long Term Effects of Chronic Alcoholism

effects of alcoholism

Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) affects around 15.1 million adults in the United States. Though many might ignore the dangers of alcohol, side effects can be treated if caught early enough.

Alcohol abuse causes an array of long-term effects, and you shouldn’t ignore the effects of alcoholism. Keep reading if you think you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol.

What is AUD?

Alcohol Use Disorder is another term for alcohol addiction or abuse. You can determine the severity of alcohol use if you or someone else:

  • Have difficulty quitting
  • Have difficulty deciding when to stop
  • Have had sudden cravings for alcohol
  • Find drinking impairs your ability to work
  • Keep drinking even through a depression
  • Experience withdrawal when you try to quit

If you continue severe alcohol use, there will be long-term effects that can be very bad for your health.

Long-Term Effects of Alcoholism

Short term or occasional use of alcoholic drinks is not detrimental to your health. Yet, continuing to drink beyond limited consumption can have long-term effects.


One long-term effect of alcoholism can be obesity. With obesity comes other health problems, including heart trouble.

When we drink too much, we fill ourselves with too many calories and sugars. Alcohol also has a way of slowing your metabolism and inhibiting decision-making skills. Some people end up eating more as a result.

Cognitive Impairment

You’ve heard of people blacking out or having short-term memory loss during a binge.

The reason is that excess alcohol can affect the frontal lobe. That is the part of the brain that makes new memories. It also affects the part of the brain that makes decisions.

The amount of alcohol that causes this reaction differs among different people. But any amount of alcohol can still affect inhibition and decision-making.

Memory Loss

Studies have also linked long-term memory loss with overuse of alcohol.

Excessive alcohol consumption earlier in life can cause dementia and memory loss. Alcoholic beverages slow down chemicals in the brain and impair mobile skills.

Liver Damage

A lot of people have heard that too much medication and too much alcohol is bad for the liver. Here’s why:

The liver is in charge of the filtering of toxins and breaks down nutrients to send to the rest of the body. When it’s bogged down by alcohol, fat starts to build up.

The result of this build-up is “fatty liver disease” which can cause long-term damage. Inflammation can occur, and the liver can stop functioning the way it’s supposed to.

Along with fatter liver disease, you can also develop alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis.

Blood Pressure Problems

High blood pressure is yet another side effect of Alcohol Use Disorder.

When you bog down your system with too much alcohol, you cause the release of stress hormones. This causes a reaction in your blood vessels. Over time, this reaction can cause high blood pressure.

The Benefits of Reduced Alcohol Consumption

While these conditions can be scary and life-threatening, it doesn’t mean you can’t turn it around.

There are plenty of health conditions you can reverse by quitting alcohol.

Anti-aging Effects

One of the benefits of quitting alcohol is the effect it will have on your skin.

Alcohol drains the body of nutrients and hydration. Once you stop it, you allow your body to start restoring natural collagen in your skin. Collagen is the elasticity in your skin that keeps you looking younger.

Redness and the splotchy appearance will also diminish when you reduce alcohol consumption.

Healthier Heart

Along with high blood pressure, alcohol abuse can also lead to cardiomyopathy. It’s a condition in which the heart muscles become weak. When they are weak, they can no longer pump enough blood through your body.

When you decide to quit, blood pressure and heart health become better because of less strain.

Reverse Fatty Liver Disease

If you’ve developed a fatty liver disease, there’s still hope.

Stopping the consumption of alcohol early enough can help reverse the disease. It allows the liver to regenerate itself.

But keep in mind, too much alcohol in your system can cause other liver diseases that aren’t as easy to cure or reverse. Stopping the alcohol abuse as soon as you can is the best way to keep from damaging the liver beyond repair.

Saved Money

Not all the benefits of quitting drinking are medical.

When you stop drinking too much, you start to save money. No one realizes how much money goes into their addiction until they are no longer funding it.

You also stop dishing out funds for the medical conditions that go with the excessive use of alcohol.

Emotional Stability

For some, their addiction to alcohol starts when they rely on it for emotional well-being. But what they don’t realize is that alcohol abuse can also cause depression.

Alcohol is a depressant. When you quit, the brain is able to stabilize, and your serotonin levels can level out.

Not only will you be happier, but you will also be less stressed. Excessive drinking causes cortisol levels to spike which makes you feel more stressed.

Weight Loss

According to experts, cutting back on alcohol can also have a slimming effect on the body.

Too many empty calories will make you gain more weight than you realize. Alcohol also dehydrates and slows down metabolism. Studies show those who quit might experience weight loss without changing eating habits.

Not a Quick Fix

All these things can happen when you decide to quit or reduce alcohol consumption.

But it’s important to remember that you will not see these results overnight. A dedication to change your lifestyle is what will help you begin to see the effects of your good choices.

Help With Quitting

Now that you’ve read about the effects of alcoholism, you might be wondering how you can make a change.

Sign up for the free Quit Drinking Webinar to help kickstart your alcohol-free life.

You can read more about Alcohol Use Disorder in “The Signs of Alcohol Abuse: How to Know It’s Time to Act.”

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