What goes on in the head and body of an alcoholic?


One dimension of alcoholism is often forgotten: its psychological and physical consequences on the addicted person.

Table of contents

Beyond the fact that alcohol changes perceptions in everyday life, the physical and psychological consequences of drinking go far beyond a change in perception in an alcohol addict.

We know of many damages caused by alcoholism, especially those on health. What happens in the head and body of an alcoholic? Can one reconcile friends, family and work when one has fallen into alcoholism? Let's remember that alcohol addiction is not only reserved to men, women are also concerned.

The downward spiral of alcoholism

Alcohol causes visible emotional instability, and the alcoholic will usually surround himself with people who also drink, or isolate himself completely.

The person addicted to drink will stock up on alcohol, always with the fear of running out and having it available. It is a survival reflex to avoid running out of the object of their addiction.

The alcoholic will tend to hide more and more and to stay alone to drink because he knows that it is a shameful thing. And confiding in a family member or a doctor becomes impossible when it becomes necessary.

There is then another way for these people to get around this feeling of shame, by drinking during parties, or during various activities such as games of bowls, cards, games, these moments are then used as pretexts.

In the personal sphere, divorce is usually the outcome given when faced with an alcoholic partner. The spouse will finally choose to flee after having tried to save the other on many occasions.

The family, the close relations, are not left out, facing the incomprehension, the fear, the impossibility to save the other, and will gradually move away. But what does alcohol change in a person?

Excessive alcohol consumption is often the only recourse for the individual who feels lost in his or her life, a simple way to numb himself or herself so as not to think about his or her problems.

Shame and low self-esteem will often bog down the individual in their distress.

Psychological consequences of alcohol dependence

With time, alcohol will change the personality of the person, where anger and excessive weariness are the rule. Moreover, alcoholism is sometimes accompanied by psychiatric disorders.

The change in the person's behavior will increase conflicts, verbal and/or physical violence, and risky behavior. Aggression or inappropriate behavior is more often expressed because alcohol disinhibits.

Often, alcohol is present in conflicts that lead to violence such as fights in a discotheque, in the street, domestic violence, aggressive driving, etc.

Drinking alcohol results in feeling depressed, sad, and even listless. In fact, depression is often underlying in alcoholics.

Anxiety disorders can also arise, and the person will then want to drink to calm them, except that in the vast majority of cases (80%) it is the intake of alcohol that induces the anxiety disorder.

It would be enough to stop drinking alcohol to see these disorders disappear. But the mechanism is too powerful, depression = alcohol = anxiety.

It is important to note that a woman who is addicted to alcohol during her pregnancy is very deleterious and will affect her baby.

Cognitive disorders appear with the consumption of alcohol and will take a greater proportion with time, such as:

  • Short-term memory disorders,
  • Concentration disorders,
  • Reasoning disorders with difficulties in evaluating situations,
  • Few motor reactions, which makes the person vulnerable to falls,
  • Accidents in driving and therefore becomes dangerous for himself and for others.

What about disease? Does a person who drinks expose himself to more diseases?

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What about the physical effects of alcohol?

Don't be fooled by the fact that a glass of wine every day would be beneficial for your health, no scientist has been able to prove it until today. On the other hand, above-average alcohol consumption is the cause of various diseases.

Cirrhosis is a disease caused mainly by alcohol. It is an irreversible and chronic disease, which progressively destroys the cells and replaces them with fibrous tissue. The liver will no longer function properly, which will lead to complications that can be fatal. In the medium and long term, cirrhosis can turn into liver cancer.

The possibility of getting cancer increases with alcohol consumption. The cancers concerned are present in all areas of the body in which alcohol circulates, whether it is the mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colon or rectum.

Alcohol is the second cause of premature death by cancer.

Alcohol is also a source of cardiovascular problems. Drinking alcohol regularly increases blood pressure and the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart attack.

Similarly, heavy drinking on an occasion can lead to heart rhythm disturbances and a risk of sudden death.

In the long term, alcohol also has effects on the brain such as the appearance of attention, concentration, memory, abstraction and executive function disorders.

Korsqkoff's syndrome is a complication of this problem, this brain disease alters the memory, mood disorders appear, and the subject tends to fabricate. A decrease in gray matter has been observed in alcoholics, and it is even more important when the alcoholism started at an early age.

When alcohol dependence has set in, the state of health deteriorates on both a physical and psychological level. Family and professional life are also affected, which will accentuate the alcoholic's malaise.

The family and/or professional rupture becomes almost inevitable. To get out of it, think of a withdrawal, an external help is essential, a therapist specialized in the matter can bring you his support and his help. A multidisciplinary therapeutic approach is highly recommended.


It is important to know that the alcoholic addict will have to be motivated to get out of it, because the deleterious effects of this addiction are very powerful, and the will of the individual is very weakened. So do not wait to consult if you feel the beginnings of this addiction.

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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative, I have no authority to make a diagnosis or recommend treatment. I invite you to visit a psychologist to treat your particular case.