The Physical Effects & Health Risks of Alcohol

Written by Abby Doty

& Medically Reviewed by Benjamin Caleb Williams, RN

Medically Reviewed

Up to Date

This article was reviewed by a medical professional to guarantee the delivery of accurate and up-to- date information. View our research policy.
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Many people underestimate the potential risks of alcohol consumption. Alcohol can affect your physical and mental health, ranging from the worsening of mental health conditions to liver damage..

Is Alcohol Bad for You?

The physical effects of alcohol can depend on how often and how much you drink, as well as your overall health status. While moderate alcohol use may have some potential health benefits for certain people, the risks and negative consequences linked to excessive alcohol use are well-documented.

Some physical effects of excessive alcohol use include:

  • Liver damage (e.g., fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis) 
  • Heart disease (e.g., high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and irregular heartbeat)
  • Cancer
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Weakened immune system

These risks are further amplified when alcohol is consumed in tandem with unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyles or smoking.

Excessive alcohol use is also linked to negative mental health effects, such as an increased risk of developing anxiety, depression and other psychiatric disorders.

What Is “Moderate Drinking”?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans describe moderate drinking as a maximum of one daily alcoholic beverage for women and two for men. A standard alcoholic drink typically contains 14 grams (0.6 ounces) of pure alcohol, equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.

Is Moderate Drinking Safe? 

Some studies suggest that moderate alcohol intake, particularly red wine, can have potential health benefits. These include reducing the risk of heart disease, lowering the risk of stroke and improving overall cognitive function in older adults. More recent research, however, suggests that there is actually no benefit to any regular alcohol use, even if it is moderate. 

In fact, even moderate alcohol use can pose health risks. Those with specific medical conditions, pregnant people, individuals with a family history of alcohol dependency or addiction or those taking medications that interact negatively with alcohol can be at risk.

The Dangers of Daily Alcohol Consumption

With prolonged and excessive alcohol consumption can come the escalation of alcohol tolerance. As a person continues to drink alcohol regularly, their body adapts to the presence of alcohol, and they require more to achieve the same level of intoxication. This increased tolerance can encourage even greater consumption and further worsen the dangers of daily alcohol use.

Evidence-Based Alcohol Addiction Treatment at The Recovery Village Columbus

The physical effects of alcohol can be devastating for those struggling with an alcohol use disorder. To address and conquer an addiction to alcohol, it is crucial to find a comprehensive and supportive alcohol rehab program.

Alcohol rehab at The Recovery Village Columbus provides a holistic approach to alcohol addiction treatment, focusing on the unique needs of each individual. Their dedicated team of professionals works diligently to create personalized treatment plans that address the physical, mental and emotional aspects of addiction. 

Programs available at our facility include:

  • Detox
  • Inpatient care
  • Outpatient care
  • Individual and group therapy
  • Recreational therapies

The Recovery Village Columbus designs its treatment to address the underlying causes of addiction. Provided with tools and coping strategies, patients can find long-lasting recovery and a healthier, sober lifestyle. Contact a Recovery Advocate to start your recovery journey today.

View Sources

MedlinePlus. “Alcohol.” ​​March 22, 2022. Accessed May 18, 2023.

American Heart Association News. “Drinking red wine for heart health? Read this before you toast.” May 24, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2023.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “What is Excessive Drinking?” May 25, 2022. Accessed May 18, 2023.

U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.” December, 2020. Accessed May 18, 2023.

MedlinePlus. “Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).” October 29, 2019. Accessed May 18, 2023.


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