effects of alcoholism

Alcoholism, the Effects of Alcohol Addiction and Rehabilitation

Understanding alcohol addiction and how it affects the body allows us to know how best to provide alcohol support rehabilitation.

Alcohol is a depressant which slows down the messages travelling between your brain and your body. This affects everything from how you think and feel to how you behave.

Alcoholism or alcohol addiction is when a person becomes reliant on alcohol and continues to use it, despite the negative and damaging behaviours associated with it. This dangerous drinking pattern can cause serious problems in the persons physical and mental health, relationships, finances, and social behaviours.

Alcohol Rehabilitation begins here. Call Seahaven today.

At Seahaven, our alcohol rehabilitation program will establish the necessary skills, education and a sober community to best support recovery and relapse prevention. We provide accessible, evidence-based tools to help manage addictive behaviours, make healthy choices, and move toward resilience, peace, and success in life. We believe that change and growth are possible in all individuals if they choose to recover.

Physical Effects

Many physical changes can occur from alcohol addiction:

  • Ataxia (the loss of control of bodily movements)
  • Cancer
  • Stomach problems
  • Pancreatitis
  • Rapid weight gain or loss
  • Depleted grey matter in the brain

Every cell in the body needs Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) in order to function. It converts food into energy in the brain, nerves, and heart. It helps the body process fats and proteins and aid in the breakdown of carbohydrates. Your body cannot produce Thiamine on its own, it must be ingested through your diet. People who struggle with alcoholism are at risk of Thiamine deficiency as alcohol reduces the body’s ability to absorb vitamins. Those with alcoholism often only get their daily calorie intake through alcohol consumption instead of food.

Without Thiamine, the brain cannot process glucose, robbing the brain of energy and functioning abilities. This can lead to a serious neurological disorder know as ‘wet brain syndrome’, better known in the medical community as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

(Betty Ford Clinic).

Mental Effects

Some psychological effects from alcohol addiction:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Tolerance and increased use
  • Impaired learning and memory capabilities
  • Interrupted brain development
  • Alcohol-induced bipolar disorder
  • Alcohol-induced sleep disorder

One of the main problems associated with using alcohol to deal with mental health problems is that regular consumption of alcohol changes the chemistry of the brain. It decreases the levels of the brain chemical Serotonin – a key chemical in depression. As a result of this depletion, a cyclical process begins where one drinks to relieve depression, which causes Serotonin levels in the brain to be depleted, leading to one feeling even more depressed, and thus necessitating even more alcohol to then medicate this depression


Financial Effects

You may not realise that your drinking is causing financial problems, until the problems are severe. The total direct costs associated with alcohol use in Australia in 2010 amounted to $13.4 billion. This includes the decreased productivity and absenteeism at work, road traffic accidents, healthcare costs and crime (aihw.gov.au).

The direct personal financial problems drinking can cause are:

  • Loss of employment
  • Large amount of money spent on alcohol
  • Purchasing unnecessary food items
  • Impulse online shopping
  • Spending money you should not such as rent/mortgage
  • Legal fees


Alcohol can reduce your inhibitions leading you to behave in ways you usually would not. You may wake up the next day full of regret for what you did the night before. Alcohol can have side effects that affect someone other than the drinker, such as drink driving accidents and physical aggression.

Some common social behaviours that can occur due to problem drinking are:

  • Committing a crime
  • Doing something embarrassing
  • Starting a physical fight
  • Engaging in risky sexual behaviour
  • Behaving in an anti-social way
  • Drinking and driving


When addiction takes hold of you, your partner can feel betrayed. The lies, broken promises, false hope, conflict, financial insecurity, and dysfunction that come with active addiction cause chaos and emotional upheaval. There is a ‘walking on ice’ sense about what is going to happen next. Living with such uncertainty and being with a partner who is in active addiction can be a lonely experience. The person they have committed to, is not able to be fully present in the relationship. Your partner is pretty much sidelined (hazeldonbettyford.org).

Alcohol also plays a role in a substantial number of domestic violence incidents. Often both the offender and the victim have been drinking. Heavy drinking has been strongly linked to violence between partners (greenfacts.org). Large numbers of children are also being substantially affected by other drinking, such as experiencing alcohol-related child abuse and neglect (fare.org.au).

The Stages of Alcohol Addiction and Rehabilitation: Recognising the Signs

Alcohol addiction is a progression and there is a vicious cycle associated with obsessive drinking, with much to lose along the way if people do not seek help. Life can get worse if the cycle of dependence is not broken, however it can also get much better through recovery.

Step 1: Pre-Alcoholic

Do you drink to feel better about yourself? Do you drink to dull the pain?

Do you drink to forget, stop worrying, or eliminate anxiety?

If so, your drinking could escalate without help.

Step 2: Early Alcoholic

Blacking out from drinking too much is a warning sign of this stage.

Along with lying about drinking, drinking excessively, and thinking obsessively about drinking.

Stage 3: Middle Alcoholic

At this point, it is obvious to those close to you that you are struggling.

You might miss work, forget to pick up the kids and become irritable easily.

Physical signs of alcohol abuse become obvious – facial redness, weight gain or loss, Sluggishness and stomach bloating.

Support groups can be highly beneficial in this stage.

Stage 4: Late Alcoholic

At this stage, drinking has become everything in your life, even at the expense of your livelihood, your health, and your relationships.

Attempts to stop drinking can result in tremors or hallucinations, however therapy, detox and rehab can help you get your life back.

Stage 5: Alcohol Rehabilitation

Once stabilised, the goal is to transition from detox, to treatment, to maintenance (practicing sober living by changing your life), to transcendence – the final step in the path to recovery and beating alcohol addiction.

Table provided by hazeldonbettyford.com


According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in 2017 there were 4,186 alcohol related deaths in Australia (aihw.gov.au)

Alcohol rehabilitation is possible.

If you think you or a loved one may be showing signs of alcoholism, it will not go away on its own. The brain chemistry is changing and may be causing irreparable damage.

At Seahaven Private, we want to build your skills and your community to best support your recovery journey. We provide clients with accessible, evidence-based tools to help manage addictive behaviours, make healthy choices, and move towards resilience, peace, and success in life.

We believe that change and growth are possible in all individuals as long as they choose to recover. We acknowledge the diversity in the nature of individuals and many aspects of their lives; physical, psychological, spiritual and social beliefs and attributes

All programs are tailored to meet the needs of each client individually and aim to deal in a holistic way with the underlying issues driving the addiction

Looking for Alcohol Rehab in Melbourne?

If you or a loved one are suffering from addiction, let Seahaven guide you to a place of safety, sanctuary, a refuge from the turmoil of addiction and substance abuse.
We are here to help.

Call: (03) 8738-4252

Contact Us Today