Alcohol Addiction: How Alcohol Affects You in Different Ways

Administrator / Chief Clinical Officer
Certified cognitive-behavioral therapist, expert addiction and chemical dependency counselor, certified for more than twenty years of experience in adolescent, adult and family psychotherapy.
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Alcohol addiction develops differently for each individual. In order to recognize the signs of addiction and when to seek treatment, it is crucial to understand how alcohol might affect a person. Here’s what you need to know.

How Alcohol Affects You

Alcohol and Your Body

Alcohol has the ability to impede the functioning of the chemicals and processes in your brain that are responsible for controlling your body. The effects of this substance can have a significant impact on one’s mood, reflexes, cognitive abilities, and overall coordination.

Alcohol addiction or excessive alcohol consumption may result in major health concerns such as:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Liver problems
  • Digestive issues
  • Cancer
  • Increased risk of diseases due to a slowed immune system

The following are some of the long-term consequences of alcohol addiction or excessive use:

  • Heart disease
  • Brain damage
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Musculoskeletal diseases

Alcohol and Mental Health

Alcohol has an effect on the portion of your brain that regulates inhibition. While it may provide a brief sense of relaxation, the effects, however, are short-lived. Chemical changes in your brain may quickly lead to unanticipated mood swings, such as:

  • Reduced inhibition
  • A false sense of confidence
  • Aggression
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Suicidal ideation

Alcohol may make you feel emotional because it changes the signal transmitters in the brain that govern emotions, behaviors, and thought processes. Here’s how alcohol addiction might harm your mental health in particular:

  • Serotonin, endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin are some of the “happy chemicals” in the brain that alcohol may influence.
  • As the use of alcohol increases, so does the desire to consume more alcohol, which may lead to alcohol dependency.
  • The hippocampus, which plays a key role in emotional regulation, may be negatively impacted by chronic alcohol consumption.
  • Being intoxicated or having an alcohol addiction can dampen your problem-solving abilities.
  • The amygdala, a brain region involved in emotional reactivity and stress, may become active under the influence of alcohol.

Alcohol and Sleep

Alcohol has been known to potentially help with the onset of sleep by virtue of its sedative properties. However, drinking alcohol before bedtime can often lead to disruptions in the later stages of the sleep cycle, as liver enzymes work to metabolize the alcohol. This might cause problems the next day, including daytime tiredness and difficulty concentrating.

Additionally, it is important to note that:

  • Alcohol inhibits REM sleep throughout the first part of the night.
  • Alcohol may disrupt your circadian rhythm (normal sleep cycle).
  • Alcohol might cause an increase in the desire to urinate in the middle of the night.
  • Alcohol may cause neck muscles to overly relax and the airways to constrict, exacerbating sleep apnea symptoms, such as snoring.

Alcohol and Relationships

Alcohol has the ability to affect a person’s emotions, perception, and thought process, even in small quantities. This can lead to conflicts between an individual and their partner.

Alcohol addiction or excessive drinking in a romantic relationship can lead to a range of challenges, including intimacy issues, mistrust, communication problems, abuse, emotional unavailability, and financial burdens. These effects can be significant for both partners involved, as well as their children and other family members.

Factors Surrounding How Alcohol Affects You

Set, Setting, and Drug

There is something called a “Set, Setting, and Drug” system when evaluating the effects of alcohol or another substance in any social setting. According to this framework, the risk of adverse effects experienced by a drug or alcohol user depends on the interplay between the individual’s personal factors (set), the context of usage (setting), and the substance (drug).

  • Set refers to the whole context of the drug or alcohol user. Considerations may include the individual’s present physical and mental well-being, gender, sleep, body composition, diet, and if they are taking any medications.
  • Setting involves the environment in which the drug or alcohol use occurs. These elements may include the people or peers surrounding you, the place, the weather, the presence of police enforcement, and potentially harmful environmental risks.
  • Drug in this framework refers to all factors in relation to the substance being used. The amount used, the strength, the purity, the route of administration, and the presence of other substances are all examples of variables surrounding how the substance affects the user.

Frequency of Use

In terms of alcohol, one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for males is considered moderate consumption. One drink may count as one of the following:

  • Twelve ounces of beer
  • Five ounces of wine
  • One and a half ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits

One may also drink less than the amount of “one drink” and still be labeled a moderate drinker.

Excessive alcohol consumption or alcohol addiction can have a detrimental impact on your immune system, rendering your body more susceptible to various illnesses and diseases. Individuals who engage in chronic alcohol consumption are at a higher risk of developing diseases, such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, compared to those who consume alcohol in moderation or abstain from it altogether.


As you journey through life, your body undergoes various changes that can impact your alcohol tolerance. These changes can be attributed to factors such as reduced liver function and a decrease in muscle mass.

When you age, your liver’s ability to metabolize alcohol gradually declines, resulting in a slower breakdown process. As a result, even the same quantity of alcohol you might have used to consume now affects you more than it did before.

Medical History

Consuming alcohol has the potential to exacerbate pre-existing health conditions and can lead to hazardous interactions with certain medications. Additionally, alcohol consumption has the potential to worsen mental health conditions like depression while also potentially leading to the development of new conditions, such as severe memory loss or anxiety.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction in Los Angeles, CA

If you or someone close to you is struggling with alcohol addiction or misuse, know that there are several options for help.

At The Encino Detox Center, our dedicated team is fully prepared to assist individuals who are facing the challenges of alcohol addiction in Los Angeles, CA, and the surrounding areas. We understand that each person’s journey is unique, and we are committed to finding the perfect program that aligns with their specific needs.

Contact us today to learn more about our specific treatment programs.

Administrator / Chief Clinical Officer
Certified cognitive-behavioral therapist, expert addiction and chemical dependency counselor, certified for more than twenty years of experience in adolescent, adult and family psychotherapy.
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