Drive Sober: How Being an Alcoholic can Affect your Health


It’s no shock that alcohol has become the poster child for substances that should not be used. There are many effects this substance has on the body, and on your life.


With Illegal Drugs

Alcohol and illegal drugs are both substances that can be abused. However, when taken together, they can become deadly. Take meth (or amphetamines in general) while drinking can pressure the heart, therefore causing death and cause dehydration. Aggression and paranoia can set in.

Using cannabis, otherwise known as marijuana, with alcohol can lead to a much bigger high from the drug. Dizziness, paranoia, panic, vomiting, and nausea can set it in this combination is used.

Cocaine and alcohol brings a dangerous side effect – the formation of toxic cocaethylene. This is simply much worse than either alone, and can cause fatal heart damage or damage to the liver. Aggressive and/or violent behavior can set in.

With ecstasy, alcohol can more easily dehydrate the body. The risk of death by dehydration is quite real here. As for when it comes to heroin (and possibly legal opiate based painkiller prescriptions), an overdose risk presents itself more readily.

On Becoming a Parent

Women metabolize alcohol much faster into their bodies, and take longer to get it out of their bodies. Men take it up slower and get it out faster. However, chronic alcohol abuse tends to take its toll in more areas than those that are more often talked about. Sexual organs also take a hit. Men can experience dysfunction, and women can become infertile. Women can also stop menstruating and can experience increased risks of stillbirth, premature delivery, and of miscarriages. If the baby does survive with a drinking mother, they can come out with problems that last a lifetime. The spectrum of issues is wide and varies from mother to mother, but the range of symptoms is called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, or FASD.

Furthermore, the guideline for pregnant women is to simply not drink at all. However, if they do choose to drink, they should not get sloppy drunk and should not drink more than one or two units of alcohol more than twice a week.

With Cancers

Cancer risks increase with drinking. Women’s risks for breast cancer sky-rockets when they drink, and science is telling us – at the moment, at least – that it has to do with how alcohol affects our sex hormones. The more the woman drinks, the higher her risk for breast cancer due to an increase in the hormone estrogen. Liver cancer risks are also higher when drinking, and a liver can take longer to repair in a woman than a man. However, alcoholics are much more predisposed to develop mouth or throat cancers.


Underage drinking is very serious. In countries where drinking alcohol is a normal behavior, children can get a very defined idea that it is okay to drink – maybe even heavily. However, the brain is not fully developed until the mid-20s and can be incredibly damaged by the drinking. Not only can the underage drinker prevent proper development of their own brain, but they raise their own risks of depression, cancer. On top of that, they cannot judge the amount of drinking they can handle. This may result in a crash, and the need for a DWI attorney.

Other Diseases

Heavy drinking can lead to other nasty side effects. Often a heavy drinker will have what’s known as a “beer belly”, a large pack of fat on the stomach. This predisposes them to higher risks of developing type II diabetes. The liver can be hurt invisibly, but many don’t realize it until it’s too late. Alcoholics have higher risks of heart disease as well.

Overall, drinking can affect every aspect of your life – not just your judgment abilities.

My name is Lizzie Weakley and I am a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. I went to college at The Ohio State University where I studied communications. I enjoy the outdoors and long walks in the park with my 3-year-old husky Snowball.

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