Health Effects of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
The physical effects of alcohol abuse depend on how many drinks are consumed and whether the alcohol is mixed with prescription drugs or illicit substances. As blood alcohol concentration rises, the effects of drinking become more pronounced. It’s not unusual for someone who’s been drinking alcohol for several hours to experience nausea, lack of coordination, vomiting or drowsiness. These are the short-term effects of heavy drinking.
People who engage in excessive drinking are at risk of developing long-term medical problems as a result of their alcohol use. Because alcohol is processed by the liver, people who drink regularly have an increased risk of liver disease. If someone with liver disease doesn’t change their drinking habits, they may eventually need a liver transplant. Alcohol abuse can also damage the heart, leading to stroke, heart attack or a condition known as cardiomyopathy. In people with cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle stretches, making it difficult for the organ to pump enough blood to other parts of the body.
Even if someone recognises that their drinking habits are harmful and tries to stop using alcohol, withdrawal symptoms can make it difficult to make a clean break. Headaches, nausea, tremors, vomiting and sweating are common. For some people, these symptoms are so severe that drinking more alcohol is the only way to get some relief.