Alcohol’s Effects on the Body National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism NIAAA

Although severe alcohol problems get the most public attention, even mild to moderate problems cause substantial damage to individuals, their families and the community. Instead, these are groups of people who have alcohol use disorder. Examples include Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, and other programs.

What is the outlook for people who have alcohol use disorder?

Societal factors include level of economic development, culture, social norms, availability of alcohol, and implementation and enforcement of alcohol policies. Adverse health impacts and social harm from a given level and pattern of drinking are greater for poorer societies. Several evidence-based treatment approaches are available for AUD. One size does not fit all and a treatment approach that may work for one person may not work for another. Treatment can be outpatient and/or inpatient and be provided by specialty programs, therapists, and health care providers.

  • However, as they consume more drinks, an individual is likely to become sedated.
  • Treatment can include counseling, medications, residential programs, and support groups.
  • NIAAA and other organizations are conducting research to identify genes and other factors that can predict how well someone will respond to a particular treatment.
  • Some individuals drink to cope with or “medicate” emotional problems.
  • Because a person may experience one or more relapses and return to problem drinking, it can be crucial to have a trusted psychologist or other health professional with whom that person can discuss and learn from these events.
  • For more information on symptoms, causes, and treatment of alcohol use disorder see our Diagnosis Dictionary.

What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder?

An interview with Vasavi Kumar and Jyoti Chand on substance abuse in the South Asian community, and barriers to getting help. People with alcohol use disorder or those who come to the ER intoxicated face higher odds of death Sober House within a year than the general population. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a degenerative brain disorder that causes mental confusion, vision problems, lack of coordination, and memory problems, among other symptoms.

Causes and Risk Factors of Alcohol Use Disorder

  • Your healthcare provider can help you evaluate the pros and cons of each.
  • Adolescents are also likely to binge drink, which can lead to serious consequences, including injury and death.
  • Individuals with alcohol dependence may drink partly to reduce or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  • And there are a few approaches that can identify and combat drinking at an early stage.
  • Alcohol use disorder is considered a progressive disease, meaning that the effects of drinking alcohol become increasingly more severe over time.
  • Some of these are inpatient or residential programs, where you stay at a treatment center for a while.

Once you’re well enough to leave, you’ll need to continue to receive treatment on an outpatient basis. You may want to take a family member or friend along, if possible. The two manuals use similar but not identical nomenclature to classify alcohol problems. In some people, the initial reaction may feel like an increase in energy.


  • The presence of this -OH group allows the alcohols to form hydrogen bonds with their neighbouring atoms.
  • The condition can range from mild to severe and is diagnosed when a patient answers “yes” to two or more of the following questions.
  • They are led by health professionals and supported by studies showing they can be beneficial.
  • A  causal relationship has been established between harmful drinking and incidence or outcomes of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV.

Who can I call for help with alcohol use disorder?

  • Long-term alcohol use can produce changes in the brain that can cause people to crave alcohol, lose control of their drinking and require greater quantities of alcohol to achieve its desired effects.
  • We usually experience failures along the way, learn from them, and then keep going.
  • Medications can make detoxification safe while avoiding the worst symptoms of withdrawal.