Regardless of addiction status, drinking large amounts of alcohol increases the risk of a variety of diseases. The harms of drinking large quantities of alcohol are associated with other issues, such as a bad diet, depression, and social problems. Alcohol damages the heart, pancreas and other vital organs. The liver, which plays a large role in the body’s detoxification from alcohol, often sees the worst effects of alcohol usage.
Alcohol is a carcinogen, meaning that it is capable of causing cancer. Alcohol can also cause other issues such as diabetes, hormonal imbalances and even sexual dysfunction.
Alcohol is particularly toxic to the brain. In adults, alcoholism causes brain shrinkage. Excessive use in older ages increases the risks of developing Alzheimer’s. Long-term alcoholism coupled with malnourishment can cause Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome, which can leave permanent brain damage with dementia and amnesia (inability to remember).
Many people with alcohol dependence also suffer from mental illnesses. Mental illnesses may increase the risk of developing alcohol dependence, just as alcohol dependence may increase the risk of developing a mental illness. Some people may drink as a result of their mental illness, while others could develop a mental illness as a result of their alcohol dependence. Often, mental illness and alcohol dependence can be thought of as co-occurring conditions, which is when the conditions occur simultaneously. Co-occurring conditions tend to aggravate each other. When one issue is ignored, the other often worsens.
Damage to employment, families and communities
Unhealthy relationships with alcohol often impact others. Addictions make it more difficult to hold down a job and can be damaging to relationships. Alcoholism, like any addiction, takes up time and resources, making it very difficult for homeless and vulnerable-housed people to improve their situation.
Association with crime and antisocial behaviour
When people are under the influence of alcohol, they are less able to act with good judgment or control violent impulses. The majority of assaults on young people that lead to hospitalization are related to alcohol consumption, and roughly half of domestic violence occurs after the perpetrator has been drinking. Drunkenness, even when non-violent, uses up police time, accounting for most arrests that occur at night. Very drunk offenders are particularly time-consuming, as they are more likely to be disruptive and uncooperative, and require supervision to ensure their safety.