Alcohol affects the complex structures of the brain. It blocks chemical signals between brain cells, causing slurred speech, poor memory, and slow reflexes. These symptoms occur with intoxication and can become part of everyday behavior when too much alcohol is consumed regularly.
The liver has a hard time processing excessive amounts of alcohol. The overworked liver cells may become damaged, leading to conditions like fibrosis (scarring of the liver), cirrhosis (serious liver damage), or fatty liver disease.
Alcohol causes the body to release endorphins, setting off the reward center of the brain. People become addicted to this endorphin release and feel they need to drink as a reward for a hard day’s work or to cope with stress. Once addiction occurs, it can get in the way of productivity, family relationships, and everyday functioning.
Additional effects of excessive drinking include:
- Increased risk of certain cancers
- Weakened immune system, increasing the risk of disease
- Higher risk of heart disease
- Mood swings that negatively affect relationships and mental wellbeing
Signs That Drinking is Becoming Excessive
Several signs indicate how much alcohol consumption is too much:
- Hangovers: Waking up daily with hangovers may be a sign of excessive drinking.
- Drinking every day: Consuming more than one drink a day could be a sign of excessive drinking.
- Drinking more than intended: If one finds themselves going out for one drink but ends up drinking heavily, it may be the sign of a larger issue.
- Memory gaps: Memory gaps may indicate that the brain is becoming affected by excessive consumption of alcohol.
- Drinking alone: Social drinking is common, but continuously drinking alone and at home may be a sign of excessive drinking.