Please update your web browser or disable Compatibility View.

Your Body and Alcohol

Your Body and Alcohol

When a person drinks alcohol, it can enter the bloodstream immediately. The molecular structure of alcohol is small, so the alcohol can be absorbed or transferred into the blood through the walls of the stomach and the small intestine. Once in the bloodstream, alcohol moves through the body and comes into contact with virtually every organ. However, some of the highest concentrations, and certainly the highest impact, is caused by the alcohol when it reaches the brain.

The body is quite efficient when it comes to dealing with alcohol. The liver is designed to metabolize the majority of alcohol as we drink it at a normal rate. Enzymes break down the alcohol into harmless products and then it is excreted. However, the liver can only handle so much alcohol at a time. The liver can handle alcohol at a rate of no more than one measure drink per hour. If a person drinks at a faster rate than one drink per hour, the alcohol simply stays in the bloodstream, waiting its turn to be metabolized. Since there is more alcohol in the blood than can be metabolized, the result is increasing levels of intoxication.

Drinking too much - on a single occasion or over time - can take a serious toll on your health.  Here's how alcohol can affect your body:

Alcohol interferes with the brain's communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination. Alcohol's effect on the outer layer of the frontal cortex region of the brain interferes with the conscious thought process contributing to loss of inhibitions.
Immune System:
Drinking too much can weaken your immune system, making your body a much easier target for disease.  Chronic drinkers are more liable to contract diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis than people who do not drink too much.  Drinking a lot on a single occasion slows your body's ability to ward off infections - even up to 24 hours after getting drunk.

Long Term Effects of Alcohol Use

Drinking a lot over a long time or too much on a single occasion can damage the heart, causing problems including:
Cardiomyopathy - Stretching and drooping of heart muscle
Arrhythmias - Irregular heart beat
StrokeHigh blood pressure
Heavy drinking takes a toll on the liver, and can lead to a variety of problems and liver inflammations including:
Steatosis, or fatty liver
Alcoholic hepatitis
Alcohol causes the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your risk of developing certain cancers, including cancers of the:

Above information is directly from the NIH