Cancer of the esophagus, liver, colon, head and neck, breasts, and other areas.
Excessive drinking can also:
Make it harder to control high blood pressure with medicines if you already have high blood pressure.
Lead to heart problems in some people.
Alcohol can affect your thinking and judgment each time you drink. Long-term excessive alcohol use damages brain cells. This can lead to lasting damage to your memory, thinking, and the way you behave.
Numbness or a painful "pins and needles" feeling in your arms or legs.
Problems with erections in men.
Leaking urine or having a hard time passing urine.
Drinking during pregnancy can harm the growing baby. Severe birth defects or fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) may occur.
How Alcohol Use Can Affect Your Life
People often drink to make themselves feel better or to block feelings of sadness, depression, nervousness, or worry. But alcohol can:
Make these problems worse over time.
Cause sleep problems or make them worse.
Increase the risk for suicide.
Families are often affected when someone in the home uses alcohol. Violence and conflict in the home is much more likely when a family member is abusing alcohol. Children who grow up in a home where alcohol abuse is present are more likely to:
Do poorly in school.
Be depressed and have problems with anxiety and low self-esteem.
Have marriages that end in divorce.
Drinking too much alcohol even once can harm you or others. It can lead to any of the following:
Risky sex habits, which may lead to unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
Sherin K, Seikel S, Hale S. Alcohol use disorders. In: Rakel RE, Rakel DP, eds. Textbook of Family Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 48.
US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening and behavioral counseling interventions to reduce unhealthy alcohol use in adolescents and adults: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2018;320(18):1899–1909. PMID: 30422199 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30422199/.
Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Family Medicine, UW Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.