How Alcoholism Ages Your Body Inside and Out

Content medically reviewed by Vicky Magobet, PMHNP-BC, on November 24, 2020.

Most people realize that excessive alcohol consumption is not good for you. There is a link between long-term use of this highly addictive substance and a variety of health concerns, from liver damage to cardiovascular disease. What few people know is how alcoholism impacts your body in terms of premature aging. Alcohol misuse can make you look and feel older than you should. Here are just a few of the ways alcohol addiction ages your body — inside and out.

1. Your Skin Can Become Aggravated

If one night of heavy drinking dries out your skin, just imagine the impact of alcoholism on your complexion in the long term. Alcohol can potentially cause a variety of irreversible skin conditions and worsen existing skin issues. For example, you may notice the following:

  • Dry skin: Alcohol is a known diuretic and can dehydrate you, causing your skin to appear dry, ashy or lusterless.
  • Premature wrinkles: Alcohol depletes your body of vitamin A, which helps skin appear more firm and youthful. Without this essential vitamin, you may be more prone to wrinkles.
  • Visible blood vessels: Alcohol causes blood vessels at the skin’s surface to dilate. Over time, alcohol misuse can cause the capillaries to expand to the point that they burst, leaving visible red and purple veins across the face and cheeks.
  • Worsened skin issues: Sugar in alcohol can cause an imbalance of the bacteria and other microbes in your body. This disruption can aggravate existing skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis.

2. Your Body Can Become Stressed 

Your body’s stress system works hard to maintain a delicate equilibrium, expertly controlling levels of cortisol and other stress-related hormones. Alcohol consumption throws off this balance, and excessive use can put your body at greater risk of stress-related harm. Because alcohol stimulates the release of high amounts of cortisol, this hormonal shift changes the way your body perceives and responds to stress.

The stress alcohol puts on your body can manifest in a variety of different ways over time. Some people experience the following issues:

  • Fatigue or difficulty concentrating
  • Insomnia and other sleep problems
  • Bloating
  • Ulcers
  • Impaired immune function
  • High blood pressure

3. You May Experience Weight Gain 

In a very short amount of time, heavy drinking can lead to weight gain. Almost all alcoholic beverages can cause you to gain unwanted weight. Alcohol contains a surplus of calories, plus its ability to decrease self-control and promote appetite could encourage you to do some unnecessary snacking while under the influence. Excessive drinking also causes your body to redistribute fat.

4. Your Risk of Dementia and Associated Neurological Disorders May Heighten 

Alcohol addiction’s impact on the brain cannot be underestimated. It puts you at high risk for dementia and promotes shrinkage of the brain’s overall volume. There’s also a link between alcoholismand a serious neurological disorder called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, or wet brain. These factors can lead to a premature decline of cognitive ability characterized by confusion, agitation and extreme memory loss.

Find Better Health in Recovery at Diamond House Detox

If your drinking has escalated or you notice that someone you care about is finding it difficult to control their alcohol consumption, you or your loved one may be struggling with alcohol addiction. The services available at Diamond House Detox will help you break free from addiction and reclaim your health. To learn how we can help, contact Diamond House Detox today.

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at Diamond House Detox
Vicky is a board certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. She began her nursing career in healthcare by working in the intensive care unit, and then an inpatient psychiatric hospital. After realizing the mental health needs of both the patients and the families she served, she became a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Throughout her experience working with clients, she has developed a passion for those with dual diagnoses and specializes in helping individuals recognize the issues driving their substance use. This recognition has been crucial to the individual’s success in treatment. Vicky opened Diamond House Detox so that she can address these issues early on in a therapeutic environment to allow clients to transition to the next level in their recovery.
Vicky Magobet
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