The immediate effects of alcohol abuse are obvious. A heavy drinker can injure himself and others while he is intoxicated, and he will probably wake up with a bad hangover and other symptoms that mimic a bad flu. With any luck, an alcohol abuser will avoid injuries and recover from typical morning-after symptoms with nothing more than a few regrets. Repeated incidents of heavy drinking and regular excessive abuse of alcohol over a longer period of time can cause serious and potentially irreversible damage to a heavy drinker’s health and body systems. That damage is often not apparent until symptoms appear after many years of alcohol abuse. A person who is concerned over his own excessive drinking or with alcohol abuse by someone close to him should understand these risks and potential damages, as they can be the catalyst that a heavy drinker needs to curtail his abuse of alcohol.

Long Term Effects of Alcohol

Most people are at least passingly familiar with the long-term effects of alcohol on a heavy drinker’s liver. A person’s liver acts as a factory that removes toxic substances, including alcohol, from a person’s body and converts them into harmless byproducts. Heavy and repeated exposure to alcohol often leads to liver cirrhosis, a chronic disease marked by degeneration of cells, inflammation and fibrous thickening of liver tissue. Cirrhosis and other damage to a heavy drinker’s liver can be medically managed but not cured, and chronic liver disease will lead to a heavy drinker’s premature death.   

Long-term, heavy drinking will also damage brain and nerve cells. This brain damage leads to reduced motor skills, sleep and mood disorders, impairment of a heavy drinker’s cognitive and reasoning abilities, and increased sensitivity to temperature extremes. Heavy drinkers also frequently suffer from B-vitamin deficiencies. More extreme cases of these deficiencies can lead to brain disorders and conditions that lead to persistent mental confusion, muscle paralysis and weak muscle coordination. Heavy alcohol abuse can also affect those parts a heavy drinker’s brain that regulate emotions and psychological well-being.

Other secondary effects of long-term alcohol abuse include cardiac and intestinal problems, sexual performance problems, and throat and mouth cancer. As a heavy drinker sinks deeper into alcohol abuse, he will often ignore other health issues, resulting in secondary health problems from neglecting all care and treatment for those problems.

Alcohol Affects People Differently

Of course, not all drinkers suffer from these ailments and many alcohol abusers can take active steps to stop and even reverse the worse long-term damage. Some heavy drinkers begin to experience evidence of a reversal within a year of refraining from drinking. Others may not see improvements for much longer stretches. Regardless of how long it may take for a person to experience some improvement, the most important consideration is for a heavy drinker to making an initial commitment to stop drinking. That commitment should not and cannot be made in a vacuum or without the assistance of alcohol abuse counselors and therapists. Alcohol exerts extreme control over a heavy drinker and changes that drinker’s brain chemistry to create physical and psychological cravings that are difficult or impossible to stave off. No two people react to alcohol in the same way, and counselors and therapists can tailor a recovery program that optimizes a heavy drinker’s opportunity to reverse course of damages created by long-term alcohol abuse.      


The staff and counselors at Hired Power are always available to answer your questions about the long-term damage that heavy drinking can cause, and to help you take the critical first steps to end your alcohol abuse problems. Please call us at 800-910-9299 for more information and assistance.