How alcohol affects your health

How alcohol affects your health

Stress, anxiety and mental health 

Drinking less can improve your mood and energy levels.

Alcohol has a negative effect on our physical and mental health.

This is because:

  • Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. It slows breathing, heart rate and brain functioning.
  • Alcohol is associated with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety.
  • Drinking alcohol increases the level of cortisol in the blood, this affects our ability to deal effectively with stress.

There are many healthy ways to ease stress and anxiety.

The immune system

To protect your immune system one of the best and easiest things you can do is to avoid risky drinking.

A strong immune system helps to protect against infection. Alcohol affects the innate immune system, making infections more likely, and the adaptive immune system which limits our ability to develop immunity.

Sleep disturbance

Alcohol, even in small quantities, can affect your quality of sleep. 

If you do drink alcohol, have no more than four standard drinks on any one day – and no more than ten total in a week.

Here are some ideas for getting a good night’s sleep.

Short-term health problems

Drinking alcohol at risky levels can result in a range of short-term harm.

Intoxication can cause an adverse hangover and ‘hangxiety‘ consequences.

Injuries when intoxicated can be serious, resulting in head injury, broken bones and soft tissue injuries, and can place extra pressure on an already stretched health system.

Chronic health problems

Several serious chronic diseases are caused by consuming alcohol over the long term.

Alcohol increases your risk of developing eight types of cancer.

Consumption of alcohol can also lead to:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Liver disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Atrial fibrillation (a disorder of heart rhythm)
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Obesity

Pregnant or planning pregnancy?

Giving your baby the best start in life includes not drinking alcohol. 

Drinking alcohol during pregnancy, even in small amounts, can harm your baby and may have lifelong effects. Australia’s drinking guidelines state that women who are pregnant or planning pregnancy should not drink alcohol .  

If you have consumed alcohol while pregnant and are concerned, or are having trouble stopping drinking, you should talk to your doctor, midwife or obstetrician. For advice and support you can also call the NOFASD Helpline: 1800 860 613

For more information: 

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