How does alcohol affect the blood?

Published by John Gillen | Last updated: 3rd April 2023 | All Sources

Here in the UK, alcohol is unfortunately a big part of our lives. We’ve adopted such a strong drinking culture, which has turned into the normalisation of binge drinking and alcohol misuse. While addiction rates are up, and while alcohol is consumed now more than ever, many users in fact lack awareness of how alcohol affects the body and mind.

Excessive alcohol consumption, while on the surface may offer positive effects, under the surface, it’s presence can result in many complex conditions, some of which can become untreatable.

Looking specifically at alcohol and blood, alone there are many concerns around the suppression of the body’s natural ability to function. From the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to a hypoglycaemia diagnosis, there are many negative implications of mixing alcohol with our blood, never mind the remaining elements of our body and brain.

Yet, as we’ve shared above, many users of alcohol lack an understanding of what happens to our bodies when consuming alcohol, and in turn, what happens through long-term alcohol abuse. If you’re unsure, here’s some insight by answering the commonly asked question of ‘how does alcohol affect the blood?’.

While we’re aware that the drinking culture will remain, we at Cassiobury Court are here to increase awareness of the addictive and dangerous traits within alcohol, along with risks of addiction, and rehabilitation capabilities. If you’re worried about how alcohol is impacting your life and health, we’re here for you.


The effects of alcohol abuse on the body and mind

As we’re so used to consuming alcohol, it’s likely that the majority of users overlook the impacts that its presence has. Of course, many users consider the risk of a hangover, linked to excessive alcohol misuse.

Yet very rarely is awareness high around how alcohol affects the body and mind. This alone is a worry, as excessive levels of alcohol consumption can result in many life-long conditions, can materialise into an addiction, and can cause many negative side effects which can be hard to undo.

Alcohol abuse is a complex subject, diagnosis and illness to consider. From brain functionality to fertility, to cardiovascular functioning and to immunity levels across common illnesses, the presence of alcohol on an excessive and long-term scale can amount to much more than a mere hangover.

Let’s break down the impacts of alcohol consumption by considering ‘how does alcohol affect the blood?’. Standing as one of the most vital areas of our bodies, our blood helps with functionality, regulation, stabilisation, immunity, nutrition and our ability to breath.

Here’s how the toxicity of alcohol can affect the blood, reducing its organic vital role in our internal system.


Alcohol’s Effects on Blood: Glucose and Insulin Levels

Blood is a necessary part of the body, by supporting functionality through the above roles on a 24/7 basis. Looking deeper into our blood’s capabilities, it contains a form of sugar known as glucose, which is produced in the liver.

Glucose is utilised in the body for cell growth and in meeting the body’s day-to-day energy needs. It is converted and stored in our muscles in the form of glycogen so that the body has a backup source of energy should organic glucose levels deplete.

Also, when blood sugar levels rise, insulin is released from the pancreas, to bring blood sugar levels down to healthy measures, by transferring glucose into our cells, to be used as energy. This alone shows how important blood health and capacity are.

Now considering the effects of alcohol on the blood, studies have indicated how excessive alcohol consumption interrupts the body’s natural ability to regulate blood sugar levels.

For instance, if you drink an excessive amount of alcohol, and do not eat enough carbohydrate to accompany the alcohol you consume, your body will quickly deplete its sources of glycogen from the muscles.

This is down to the fact that alcohol prevents the liver from producing glucose, which will trigger the body to utilise stored glycogen. To compensate through this process, the body will secrete insulin, resulting in low, unhealthy blood sugar levels.

Again, returning to the question of ‘how does alcohol affect the blood?’, if alcohol is abused over a prolonged period of time, the organic capabilities of insulin, to lower high blood sugar levels alone will weaken, increasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes is a common side effect of chronic pancreatitis, a disease synonymous amongst heavy drinkers, showcasing the dangerous link between alcohol and blood.

Also considering the dangerous link between alcohol and blood, binge drinking can prompt the pancreas to release insulin in dangerous quantities. In turn, excessive insulin levels will lower the body’s blood sugar levels to an unhealthy, dangerous status, posing the risk of developing a condition known as hypoglycaemia, carrying symptoms of sleepiness and dizziness.

Drinking on an empty stomach can increase the risk of such a condition, which is why diabetes sufferers are urged to eat while consuming alcohol, especially those with type 1 diabetes.

From suppressing the organic release of insulin and glucose to reducing the capacity of cell health, development and repair, to nutritional and hormonal concerns, alcohol can affect the blood in many different worrying ways.

This is exactly why greater awareness of ‘how does alcohol affect the blood, and in turn the body and brain?’ should be aimed for, as unknowingly, many users are weakening their health.


Drinking within recommended guidelines

To avoid damaging your body’s ability to regulate its blood sugar levels, you’re advised to drink within recommended daily limits of units. This is typically 3-4 units for men and 2-3 units for women.

Those who are diabetic are also advised to eat enough carbohydrates both before and after alcohol consumption, in order to promote optimal functionality.

To protect your health, drinking sensibly is recommended. Not only will this reduce the risk of many conditions but will also lower your chances of developing alcohol addiction.

Unfortunately, many individuals are living through alcoholism, along with attached alcohol-induced conditions. If you’re yet to reach this diagnosis, it’s time to consider your alcohol consumption levels and drinking habits.

We at Cassiobury Court are here to help you through this, by considering the place that alcohol has in your life.


John Gillen

John Gillen - Author Last updated: 3rd April 2023

John Gillen is a leading addiction treatment expert with over 15 years of experience providing evidence-based treatment methods for individuals throughout the UK. John also co-authors the book, The Secret Disease of Addiction, which delves into how the addictive mind works and what treatment techniques work best.