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The Effects of Alcohol on the Muscular System

By Rochelle Connery ; Updated July 27, 2017

Drinking alcoholic beverages is popular social behavior, especially at parties and festivals. However, drinking alcohol affects how your body reacts to certain situations and in many cases dulls your judgment and motor skills and affects your muscular system. Small amounts of alcohol have less detrimental effects on the muscular system than large amounts, but even the smallest amount can still show signs of a temporary change in reaction time while speaking, driving or working.

Alcohol Effects on Muscles Start with the Brain

Your brain tells each muscle in your body what to do and how to react to situations. Certain alcohol levels impair nerve functions that connect your brain's instructions to your muscles, thereby slowing down your muscular abilities and judgment. It also affects your muscular coordination, which can cause you to make fatal mistakes while driving or operating heavy machinery.

According to, the cerebellum in your brain coordinates all of your muscle movement. Alcohol affects the cerebellum, causing your muscles to become uncoordinated.

Alcohol Effects on Muscular Bodies

According to Virginia Tech, long-term alcohol consumption can lead to a loss of muscle mass. For fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders, alcohol consumption can reverse the hard work they've put into building up their body's muscle mass and tone. According to Dr. Michaele Dunlap of Oregon Counseling, women are more at risk for alcohol affecting their muscles as they are by nature less muscular than men.

Alcohol Effects on the Heart

Your heart is one of the most important muscles in your body. When alcohol weakens muscles and leads to deterioration, it especially takes a toll on your heart. According to Dr. Dunlap, the heart becomes sluggish after alcohol consumption and its effects are amplified when the user resorts to heavy drinking. When your heart cannot pump blood properly, your muscles and the rest of your body suffer.

Alcohol and Muscles the Morning After

Three common side effects of drinking alcohol are the hangover, tremors and morning shakes. Once your body stops consuming alcohol, it goes through alcohol withdrawal. This can result in physical muscle weakness coupled with a rapid heart rate. These two muscular disorders can lead to disturbed sleep, lack of mental acuity and difficulty in thinking clearly, in addition to shaking and the inability to maintain balance.

Muscular System Deterioration Depends on BAC

The blood alcohol content, or BAC, in your body can determine at what point your muscles start to lose function. According to, BAC levels under 0.05 percent report little or no behavioral differences while levels above this stage tend to increase sensory-motor impairment. Blood alcohol levels above 0.09 percent lead to your muscles' inability to maintain balance and can lead to a confused state of being and mind. Keep in mind that BAC levels above 0.08 percent are considered illegal as far as driving is concerned.

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