The Dangers of Alcohol

The dangers of alcohol begin at the first sip of the first drink. Although most responsible drinking habits shouldn’t be cause for major concern, everyone who drinks runs the risk of encountering the negative effects of alcohol.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans defines moderate drinking as up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men.  A single drink is considered as:

  • 12 ounces of beer (5% alcohol content)
  • 8 ounces of malt liquor (7% alcohol content)
  • 5 ounces of wine (12% alcohol content)
  • 1.5 ounces of 80-proof (40% alcohol content) distilled spirits or liquor (e.g., gin, rum, vodka, whiskey)

The Dangers of Alcohol to the Body


Alcohol severely impacts the way the brain works. Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, which can cause mood changes, behavioral changes, poor decision-making, poor coordination, slurred speech, hallucinations, blackouts, blurry vision, and lowered inhibitions.


Drinking alcohol can cause damage to the internal organs, such as:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Fatty liver
  • Fibrosis
  • Pancreatitis
  • Stomach and digestive issues
  • Liver damage and failure
  • Issues with the throat, mouth, and esophagus

Frequent binge-drinking, or drinking regularly over a long period of time, can cause severe irreversible damage to these organs. It can also lead to failure of vital organs which leads to coma or death.


For young people, drinking can disrupt normal hormonal changes. This disruption can affect bone growth, puberty, brain development, maturity development, memory problems, poor judgment, and poor decision-making skills for life.


The National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists alcohol consumption as a known human carcinogen. This research also indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks — particularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time — the higher his or her risk of developing alcohol-associated cancer.

Some cancers related to alcohol consumption include:

  • Head and neck cancers, such as oral cancer, throat cancer, esophageal cancer, and cancer of the voice box.
  • Liver cancer is primarily caused by alcohol consumption, making it one of the most avoidable types of cancer.
  • Breast cancer can be caused by long-term alcohol consumption. Studies have consistently found an increased risk of breast cancer associated with alcohol.
  • Cancer of the colon and rectum are largely linked to alcohol consumption. Drinkers run 1.5 times the risk of developing these types of cancers than non-drinkers.

Mental and Behavioral Dangers of Alcohol

As mentioned, one of the major dangers of alcohol is damage to the brain. In addition, alcohol is a factor in more than half of fatal burn injuries, homicides, drownings, and is involved in over 40 percent of fatal vehicle accidents.

In addition, one of the many side effects of alcohol is suffering from a mental health condition. These can include increased stress, anxiety, and depression, which could lead to self-harm and suicide. Many individuals drink in an effort to escape these negative emotions; however, alcohol exacerbates the very emotions they are trying to avoid. The only way to break this cycle is to receive help for the underlying mental health condition while abstaining from alcohol concurrently.

The Dangers of Alcohol While Pregnant

There are many individuals who should never drink under any circumstances, including:

  • Individuals under legal drinking age
  • Taking certain medications that should not be mixed with alcohol
  • Before driving
  • Those who suffer from certain medical and mental health conditions, including alcoholism
  • Pregnant women

Women who drink while pregnant run the risk of passing alcohol to the baby through the umbilical cord. This can lead to fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, or FASD. The only way to avoid a baby becoming diagnosed with an FASD is by complete abstinence of alcohol throughout pregnancy — there is no “safe” time to drink during pregnancy. The CDC outlines the characteristics of FASD as:

  • Abnormal facial features, such as a smooth ridge between the nose and upper lip (this ridge is called the philtrum)
  • Small head size
  • Shorter-than-average height
  • Low body weight
  • Poor coordination
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Difficulty with attention
  • Poor memory
  • Difficulty in school (especially with math)
  • Learning disabilities
  • Speech and language delays
  • Intellectual disability or low IQ
  • Poor reasoning and judgment skills
  • Sleep and sucking problems as a baby
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Problems with the heart, kidney, or bones

About Cliffside Malibu

For some individuals, abstaining from alcohol is difficult and requires professional alcohol treatment. Cliffside Malibu offers individualized treatment for those who need specialized care while overcoming alcohol or substance use addiction. We are committed to providing evidence-based treatment through a continuum of care model including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment, and outpatient services. Our program also includes family therapy and holistic therapy, as well. Whether an individual is suffering from substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction, our programs are structured to create a supportive environment where healing can begin.

In addition to world-class treatment, Cliffside Malibu offers luxury accommodations, a serene environment, five-star dining, and plentiful amenities. We understand that addiction treatment is a rigorous process. Therefore, we provide for your comfort and relaxation at every turn, allowing you to rejuvenate, and meet the demands of treatment with your greatest energy and attention.

For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit