One sip… a bottle… another few and suddenly it becomes a daily routine of over consuming to much alcohol, which can then lead to an addiction. Alcohol has so many effects on a person, on the way they look, their personality and the days they have to live shorten.

It’s ok to have a glass of wine with your dinner, or drink on a special occasion, but you have to know when your consuming to much.

Alcohol is a powerful chemical that can have damaging effects on almost every part of the body, including brain, bones and heart.

The short terms effects of alcohol consumption: 1 to 2 units- After drinking this, your heart rate will speed up and your blood vessels will expand, giving you the warm, sociable and talkative feeling associated with moderate drinking.

4 to 6 units- Your brain and your nervous system starts to be affected. It begins to affect the part of your brain associated with decision making, causing you to be more reckless. It’ll make you feel light-headed and affect your reaction time and co-ordination.

8 to 9 units- your reaction time will be a lot slower, speech will slur and vision will loose focus. The liver will be unable to remove all of the alcohol overnight, so it’s likely you’ll wake up with a hangover.

10 to 12 units- Your co-ordination will be impaired, placing you at serious risk of having an accident. Having high levels of consumption will have a depressing effects on both your mind, body, which will make you drowsy.

This amount of alcohol will begin to reach toxic levels. Your body will quickly attempt to pass out urine. This will then leave your body feeling dehydrated in the morning, which can cause you to have a serious headache.

It can upset your digestion, you can have nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and indigestion.

Drinking more than 12 units of alcohol, you’re at risk of alcohol positioning. It usually takes the liver about an hour to remove one unit of alcohol from the body. Alcohol poisoning occurs when excessive amounts of alcohol start to interfere with the body’s functions, such as: breathing, heart rate, gag reflex (prevents choking).

It can lead to a person falling into a coma or death.

The long term effects of alcohol misuse, after many years will take its toll on many of the body’s organs and may cause organ damage. These include brain, nervous system, heart, liver and pancreas. Heavy drinking can increase blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels, which are major risk factors for heart attacks and strokes.

Makes you more vulnerable to serious infections, weaken your bones, placing you at a greater risk of breaking them. As well as health risks such as: Stroke, liver disease, mouth cancer, breast cancer, bowel cancer, depression, dementia and infertility.

It can have serious negative impacts on social implications such as: family break-ups and divorce, domestic abuse, homelessness and financial problems.

Effects on mental health

Alcohol is an important part of society and culture for many centuries. Across the UK, people of all ages drink various amounts of alcohol. It can have a huge impact on our mental health.

Alcohol can temporarily alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression. Drinking to deal with difficult feelings or symptoms of mental health illnesses is sometimes called ‘self medication’. This can often be why people with mental health issues drink. Drinking lowers your inhibition.

Alcohol can disrupt our body’s ability to rest, resulting in our body needing to work harder to break down the alcohol in our system. Alcohol also depresses the central nervous system, this can make our moods fluctuate. It can also help ‘numb’ emotions, so we an avoid issues in our lives.

It can reveal underlying feelings, evoking past memories of trauma or repressed feelings which are associated to a painful past. The memories of it, can be so overwhelming and create anxiety, depression or shame. These memories and dark feelings, can pose a threat to personal safety as well as the safety of others.

A problem associated with using alcohol to deal with mental health problems is regular consumption of alcohol changes the chemistry of the brain. It will decrease the levels of the brain chemical serotonin- a key chemical in depression.

Alcohol has a sedative effect on your brain. While a few beers or a glass of wine can seem to relieve stress and make you feel more relaxed and calm, they can put you at an increased risk of depression. It is a depressant that can cause problems to seem worse than they actually are and can then make you feel even more depressed than before you had a drink.

It can then worsen your symptoms of depression. Alcohol can enhance the duration of many common depression symptoms, which include:

  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability and restlessness
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Pains- headaches, cramps, or digestive problems

Studies have shown that, among people abusing alcohol, somewhere between 30 percent and 50 percent suffer depressive symptoms at any given time.

When a person becomes addicted, they will loose self-control. Cravings will increase and they will have a desire to drink in excess. Things will no longer remain the same, not only do the alcoholism affect the individual, including friends, family members and co-workers.

Alcoholism can have serious health effects on unborn children. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is caused from a mother drinking heavily while pregnant. The fetus will suffer physical and behavioural abnormalities.

If children are involved, an addict may no longer be able to be part of their lives. Alcoholism will have a negative effect on their relationship in the work environment. People with an addiction will not be able to get along with co-workers, which can lead to the loss of the job.

How to support a loved one if they’re going through this:

  • Don’t drink around your friend or loved one.
  • Don’t take on all their responsibilities.
  • Don’t provide financial support unless the money is going directly to treatment.
  • Don’t tell them what to do or what’s best for them.

Treating alcoholism isn’t easy, and it doesn’t always work the first time around. Patience is necessary. The most successful treatment happens when a person wants to change.

Alcohol can take over people’s lifes. It can become something that will ruin your life completely. If you feel like you’re drinking to much, or you know someone that is suffering, get them help. Talk to a councillor or a doctor or call a helpline.

The best thing to do is reach out and get help, as hard as it is, it’s best to come to terms with the fact there’s a problem and overcome it!

Numbers to call:

Call Talk to Frank on 0300 123 6600 or email

Call Alcoholics Anonymous on 0800 9177 650 or email

Call Drinkline on 0300 123 1110 or you can email them on the enquiry form on their website.

Student Journalist