Alcohol is one of the most widely abused substances on the market, but it is a drug that can cause permanent injury and death.

With much of the current drug focus dedicated to opioids like fentanyl and stimulant drugs like meth, it’s easy to forget about the other dangerous drugs people use. It’s even easier to forget about substances we might not think of as drugs. However, alcohol is a drug, and it continues to be one of the most widely abused substances on the market. This is a fact we can’t afford to ignore. Here’s how dangerous alcohol use disorder is and why it matters.

What Is Alcohol Use Disorder?

With alcohol’s widespread availability, it’s a much more complicated substance compared to pills that require a doctor’s prescription and substances that are illegal to have in any circumstance. As a social and cultural substance, alcohol’s presence is common at celebrations and dining events. Additionally, it doesn’t require anything besides a valid ID for those of legal drinking age. Because of these factors and more, alcohol is one of the most widely abused substances worldwide. Alcohol use disorder (AUD), also called alcoholism and alcohol addiction, is a chronic brain disease that occurs when one can no longer stop or control their alcohol intake. A person with AUD continues to drink despite the negative effects and can experience a negative emotional state and other complications when not drinking. Statistically, one in every 12 U.S. adults meets the criteria for alcohol addiction, and it ranks as the third leading preventable cause of death.

Alcohol is a depressant, a drug that decreases activity in the central nervous system (CNS). It does this by affecting two neurotransmitters in the brain—excitatory and inhibitory transmitters. The result of this is the imbalance of the CNS, releasing dopamine to feel good and blocking communication between the brain and the body. As users experience alcohol’s effects, their bodies begin to build up a tolerance to it, and their brains’ reward systems begin to crave alcohol for its euphoric and depressant effects. Over time, this requires more alcohol use to achieve the same effects. People will commonly experience withdrawals when they either can’t access alcohol or don’t use enough of it to overcome their tolerance. Because of these factors, alcohol can quickly become habit-forming.


What Are AUD’s Short- and Long-Term Dangers?

As with any drug, alcohol has short- and long-term effects when people abuse it. Some of AUD’s immediate short-term effects include mood swings, memory decline, drowsiness, and reduced heart rate. Short-term effects should not be downplayed because they can result in death, especially if someone blacks out from drinking too much alcohol and experiences a dangerous decline in organ functions due to the brain’s inability to communicate with the body. In fact, many deaths attributed to alcohol are because of the short-term effect of suppressed gag reflexes, causing users to die from asphyxiation. However, most short-term effects will go away once alcohol exits the body. What’s more, if we avoid abusing alcohol, we have the best chance of fully recovering from the negative impact of these short-term effects.

On the other hand, AUD’s long-term effects  are much more dangerous, not only because of the damage they cause but because of their potentially permanent status. These can include severe stomach cramping, changes in weight, dry skin, changes in the brain, chronic high blood pressure, and yellowing eyes due to liver damage. Not only do these effects wreak havoc on the body, but they are also signs that permanent damage has been done. This is because alcohol has continually suppressed the central nervous system to the point that the brain has been rewired and modified to depend on alcohol. Organs can suffer the damage of this rewiring, and the body begins to show signs of permanent damage. While recovery is vital for anyone who wishes to avoid further damage, this stage of AUD could be irreversible, depending on the case.

How to Recover From AUD

Since alcohol use disorder is considered a brain disease that cannot be easily overcome by willpower alone, the best action is to undergo alcohol detox under medical professionals’ supervision. This option is an effective road to recovery and the greatest protection against relapse. Alcohol affects everyone differently, so each individual may experience the withdrawal process differently. Professional detox offers a safe environment in which to heal. When the brain is recovering and correcting itself from the rewiring process, the body can be pushed into overdrive. This can include seizures, changes in heart and lung function, and depression.


When people with AUD experience these symptoms, users may be tempted to return to alcohol use because they don’t know how to respond to or manage them. Professionals can help relieve these symptoms or avoid them altogether. Additionally, a dedicated team of professionals is an incentive to keep going through the detox process. A person trying to detox alone at home won’t have this support system. If you or anyone you know has alcohol use disorder, it’s important to seek professional help and choose the option that represents the best chance at recovery.


Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). Alcohol Abuse and Addiction Treatment Guide. Retrieved

Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). How to Quickly Recover After an Alcohol Binge. Retrieved

NIH. (n.d.). Alcohol and the Brain: An Overview. Retrieved's,injuries%20and%20other%20negative%20outcomes.

CDC. (n.d.) Alcohol Use and Your Health. Retrieved from

Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). Guide to Drug Addiction: Symptoms, Signs, and Treatment. Retrieved

Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). Alcohol Overdose- Symptoms, Effects on the Body, and Risk of Death. Retrieved

Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). How to Identify Signs of Alcohol Abuse and Addiction. Retrieved

American Heart Association. (2016, Oct. 31). Limiting Alcohol to Manage High Blood Pressure. Retrieved

Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). Symptoms of Alcohol Brain Damage: Is It Reversible? Retrieved

Delphi Health Group. (n.d.). Guide to Alcohol Detox: Severity, Dangers, and Timeline. Retrieved

Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Alcohol use Disorder. Retrieved

What's your reaction?

You may also like


0 comment

Write the first comment for this!

Facebook Conversations

Website Screenshots by PagePeeker