The use of alcohol in a dependent or even a regular heavy pattern predisposes the drinker to a range of adverse consequences. These include a risk of direct harm from alcohol, including organ damage, mental health disorders and a range of social and legal problems associated with behaviours due to alcohol's effects. The range of organ damage associated with regular heavy alcohol consumption is well described. Much new information on the mechanisms by which damage occurs is available and is reviewed in this paper. New knowledge can assist in the development of more appropriate management strategies for those affected by the medical complications of alcohol use. Genetic susceptibility to tissue injury is explored and the reasons why many heavy drinkers do not appear to experience organ damage are considered. Approaches to the management of certain alcohol-related disorders are outlined.
Drug and Alcohol Review Vol. 24, no. 3, p. 253-265