What Health Problems Can Alcohol Cause?


What health problems can excessive alcohol and problem drinking cause?

Regrettably, a number of both short-term and long term alcohol effects and drinking problems can be caused by alcohol abuse or by alcohol addiction.

Indeed, problem drinking can lead to a host of diseases and illnesses.

For people who have a drinking problem and who are not alcohol dependent, the best course of action is to get a drinking assessment and a complete physical exam from their doctor.

And if it is determined that these individuals have a drinking problem that they cannot handle, then alcohol treatment is probably the best course of action.

Alcoholism Problems. Conversely, for those individuals who have a drinking problem and who are alcohol dependent and exhibit an alcoholism problem, the best course of action is to get alcohol treatment as soon as possible.


A type of "proactive thinking" that is often ignored is this: if you have alcohol drinking problems that point to alcohol abuse rather than to alcoholism, why risk the chance of becoming alcohol dependent by continuing your hazardous and excessive drinking?

In short, before you exhibit an alcoholism problem, get professional alcohol treatment as soon as you can.

Short-Term and Long-Term Health Problems Caused By Excessive Alcohol

Short Term Alcohol Effects. Some alcohol drinking problems, such as driving impairment, interpersonal relationship issues, and negative interactions with medications can manifest themselves after drinking over a relatively short period of time.

Long Term Alcohol Effects. Other alcohol drinking problems, conversely, can develop more gradually over time and may become noticeable only after heavy drinking for an extended period of time.

These are the problems that represent the long-term alcohol effects and help answer the following question: what health problems can excessive alcohol cause?

It is important to note that women may develop alcohol-related health problems after consuming less alcohol than men over a shorter time period.

Since alcohol affects many organs in the body, long-term excessive drinking puts a problem drinker at risk for developing serious health problems that are directly or indirectly related to alcohol abuse problems and/or alcoholism problems.

Stated differently, the long term effects of excessive alcohol can lead to a gradual breakdown of different organs and systems in the body that can result in serious, if not fatal, health problems and issues experienced by the person with a drinking problem.

Alcohol Related Pancreatitis

Long Term Alcohol Effects: Pancreatitis. The pancreas helps regulate the body's blood sugar levels by producing insulin. In addition, the pancreas is instrumental in digesting the food people eat.

Long-term hazardous and excessive drinking can lead to pancreatitis (that is, an inflammation of the pancreas).

Pancreatitis is associated with excessive weight loss and severe abdominal pain and can lead to death.

Alcohol Related Heart Disease

One of the few verifiable positive aspects of drinking alcohol is that drinking in moderation can actually have positive effects on the heart, especially with individuals who are at the greatest risk for heart attacks, such as women after menopause and men over the age of 45.

Chronic and hazardous drinking, on the other hand, increases the risk for long term alcohol effects like certain kinds of stroke, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Alcohol Related Cancer

Long-term heavy drinking and excessive alcohol increases the risk of developing certain types of cancer, especially cancer of the esophagus, mouth, throat, and the voice box.

Excessive alcohol may also increase the risk of long term alcohol effects such as developing cancer of the colon and of the rectum.

Clearly, people with a chronic alcohol abuse or alcoholism problem run the risk of developing other serious medical conditions such as alcohol-related cancer.


Research has shown, moreover, that women who drink two or more drinks per day slightly increases their risk for developing breast cancer.

Alcohol Related Liver Disease

Long Term Alcohol Effects: Liver Disease. More than 2 million U.S. problem drinkers suffer from alcohol-related liver disease.

Some people who exhibit problem drinking develop alcoholic hepatitis (that is, an inflammation of the liver) as a consequence of long-term heavy drinking.

The symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis include the following: fever, jaundice (an abnormal yellowing of the urine, skin, and the eyeballs), and abdominal pain.

If the problem drinker persists in drinking, moreover, alcoholic hepatitis can be fatal. If the individual with the drinking problem stops drinking, however, alcoholic hepatitis is frequently reversible.

Long Term Alcohol Effects: Cirrhosis. Approximately 10 to 20 % of the problem drinkers who drink excessively develop cirrhosis of the liver (that is, a scarring of the liver).

Alcoholic cirrhosis can be fatal if the problem drinker continues to drink. Even though cirrhosis is irreversible, if the affected person stops the problem drinking, his or her chances of survival can improve dramatically.

Although some problem drinkers may eventually need a liver transplant as a last resort, numerous people with cirrhosis who abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages can receive treatment and may never require liver transplantation.

Other Long Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

In addition to the diseases outlined above, excessive alcohol consumption over time is also associated with the following long term alcohol effects and serious alcohol drinking problems:

  • Loss of brain cells

  • Nerve damage

  • Irritated stomach lining and bleeding from stomach ulcers

  • Epilepsy

Excessive alcohol and long term problem drinking have also been linked to the following long term alcohol effects, alcohol abuse problems, and alcoholism problems:

  • Vitamin deficiency

  • Skin problems

  • Muscle disease

  • Infertility

  • Sexual problems

  • Obesity

Conclusion: What Health Problems Can Alcohol Cause?

Drinking Problems. Based on the information presented above, it can be concluded that chronic, problem drinking can often result in long term alcohol effects such as physical damage, increasing the risk of getting various diseases, and making existing medical conditions and diseases worse.

Stated differently, excessive and irresponsible problem drinking can and does result in serious alcohol drinking problems and short term and long term alcohol effects.

Earlier, we asked the following question: what health problems can excessive alcohol cause?


Now that you know the answer to this question, you are in a significantly better position to understand the basic, if not critical message of alcohol addiction and alcohol abuse prevention and treatment.

That is, if you want to avoid the long term alcohol effects of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, such as unnecessary alcohol-related health issues later in life that are associated with chronic alcohol abuse problems and/or alcoholism problems, drink in moderation or not at all.

On the other hand, if you cannot always drink in moderation or abstain from drinking, consider making it a priority to talk with an alcohol abuse and alcoholism professional about getting alcohol treatment as soon as you can.