There are certain risks associated with drinking too much:
- Blacking out and not remembering what you did while you were drunk
- Passing out in an unfamiliar place or a place where your safety could be at risk
- Decreased inhibitions resulting in embarrassing and dangerous behavior
- A hangover which includes: nausea, fatigue, upset stomach, headache, sore muscles, "cotton mouth," and/or a lack of motivation
- Alcohol-related injuries resulting from loss of inhibitions and coordination
- Death by nervous system failure, injury, and choking (on own vomit)
Alcohol disrupts brain functions. The normal communication pathways no longer work. This causes a lack of coordination, mood swings, and changed behavior. Depression, anxiety, and insomnia are likely.
Other effects of alcohol on the brain are neuropathy, dementia, impaired balance, and memory damage.
Your heart can also be damaged. Heart muscle becomes stretched out and droopy, called cardiomyopathy. Your heart beat can become irregular, which is called an arrhythmia. Stroke and high blood pressure can also occur.
Drinking alcohol affects the liver. You can develop fatty liver, cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, or fibrosis. Your pancreas can get swollen and inflamed blood vessels, which becomes pancreatitis. Your kidney can become enlarged, leading to changes in hormone functions. Your risk of kidney failure also increases.
The cancers caused by alcohol include mouth, upper throat, food pipe, voice box, esophagus, liver, bowel, and breast cancer. Excessive drinking at any one occasion reduces your body's immune system for up to 24 hours. Every two units of alcohol consumed each day raises your risk of bowel cancer by 8 percent.
Last Reviewed: October 2013