How does alcohol affect you?

How does alcohol affect you, your body and your mind?

Alcohol is a drug that affects your body and your mind. It is a depressant drug, so it slows your body down. One drink might leave you feeling more sociable or chatty than usual, but if you have too much then your mind can feel foggy and you’ll find it difficult to control your emotions. You may end up doing or saying things you regret later.

Alcohol can affect your speech, your movement and your sense of touch. If you drink too much alcohol then your speech will become slurred, you’re not able to react to things as quickly. You’ll also find it harder to walk. When you’ve drunk too much alcohol then it’s harder to control your body. You may end up hurting yourself or getting into an accident.

How much is too much? Check out our page on how much it is safe to drink to find out.

What's a hangover? 

If you've drunk too much alcohol then you'll probably have a hangover the next morning. With a hangover you tend to feel sick, have a headache and feel generally unwell. You also may find that you don’t like bright lights and loud noises.

Hangovers are worse if you are dehydrated, so it’s best to drink water between each alcoholic drink and before going to bed. Darker drinks and those with lots of additives can make for bad hangovers.

How does alcohol affect your appearance? 

Drinking too much alcohol can affect how you look.

First of all, alcohol is fattening. Alcoholic drinks are full of calories so the more your drink, the more it’s going to affect your waistline. On top of that you’re also more likely to reach for those fattening snacks when you’ve had few drinks!

Drink can also affect your skin. Alcohol dehydrates your skin and can make it look pale and tired. If you drink a lot over a long period of time then it can lead to a skin disorder called Rosacea. This is where you get red spots and blotches on your face.

Watching your money? 

Alcohol can also affect your bank balance. When you’ve had a couple of drinks, you’re more likely to ignore your budget and buy more drinks. The costs soon add up. If you need information on handling debt or other money worries, have a look at the Young Scot Money Section.

What are the long-term effects of alcohol? 

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to a number of different health problems. One of the main ones is liver disease. Alcohol is processed by your liver and turned into less harmful substances. The more alcohol the liver has to process, the less able it is to do its job properly. That’s why drinking too much alcohol can lead to liver disease. 

Other health problems that are linked to drinking too much are

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Addiction and dependence on alcohol.

Alcohol and pregnancy

If you are pregnant, the general advice is to avoid alcohol altogether.

This is especially true in the first three months of pregnancy as you can hugely increase the chance of miscarriage.

As the liver is one of the last things to develop in the womb, your child cannot process the alcohol properly and can affect their development.

Drinking heavily during pregnancy can lead to your baby developing foetal alcohol syndrome, in which children have restricted growth, facial abnormalities as well as learning and behavioural difficulties 

More information

Drinkline - If you want to speak to someone about your own drinking, call Drinkline on 0800 7 314 314 (24hrs).

Al-anon- Support for the families affected by someone else's alcohol problems.

Alcolator- If you're worried about someone else's drinking or your own then you can get information here. If you live in Greater Glasgow and Clyde you can arrange an appointment with someone to get support with your drinking.

Talk to FrankFind out more about the effects of alcohol, the risks and the law.