Alcohol’s Negative Impact On Athletes

As a popular social drink, the negative impact of alcohol on athletic performance is seriously underestimated. In most countries alcohol advertising in sport is severely limited, or restricted. However, there is still a strong social imperative for people to drink alcohol. Athletes need to be aware of the negative impact of alcohol abuse on athletic performance and make an informed decision not to drink alcohol if they want to achieve optimal athletic results. Athletes know that regulation of sleep, good food intake, and specialized workout routines are crucial to the high level of performance that is demanded of athletes – both as a personal best, and for the good of the team. Athletes and others can be surprised at the many ways in which alcohol drinking impairs athletic performance. A brochure published by Princeton University identifies the main negative impacts that alcohol drinking has on athletes.

Effects of Alcohol after Workout

Athletes might think that a post workout drink is ok – relaxing and restorative – but this is not the case. Alcohol prevents muscle repair and recovery. After a strenuous workout, you need nutrition and a good sleep. Alcohol impairs the ability of the body to repair muscles while at rest by depleting human growth hormone (HGH) needed for muscle repair. Alcohol can reduce HGH levels by as much as 70%. Also by-products of alcohol metabolism in the liver are toxic to testosterone, a hormone needed to bulk up muscles. Alcohol metabolism calls upon water reserves in the body – alcohol effects are dehydrating to all of the cells in the body. Loss of water can upset chemical balance and equilibrium – the healing capacity of the body is diminished when the body is excessively dehydrated. Alcohol also upsets the water content of cells, disabling them from being able to produce adenosine tri phosphate – a source of energy for our muscles. Worse still, alcohol prevents the body from sourcing glucose for energy from other chemicals in the body – to supplement any glucose deficiency that we might have. Loss of energy sources to feed our muscles leads to lack of stamina, loss of endurance.Other negative impacts of alcohol abuse upon athletic performance include loss of conditioning because alcohol is a high calorie beverage, with minimal nutritional content.

Alcohol and B Vitamines

Alcohol also prevents important vitamins and minerals from being properly absorbed by the body – in particular thiamin (B1), vitamin B12, Folic Acid and Zinc. The tremors and shakiness that is associated with too much alcohol drinking is caused by nervous depletion, and a lack of B group vitamins. Alcoholics with severe nutritional deficiencies are sometimes given injections of Vitamin B12 to restore their vital functions. The vitamin B12 is called cobalamin, and its deficiency causes macrocytic anemia and a range of neuro-psychiatric disorders. Disorders caused by B12 deficiency can be reversed by early detection and treatment. Athletes impair their performance potential when lacking in vital B group vitamins.

Effects on Coordination and Balance

Alcohol effects on athletes can involve problems with new learning, retention and accessing memory. The organization, Drug Free Sport, dedicated to eradicating drug use by athletes points out that alcohol use causes loss of motor co-ordination, a slower reaction time, faulty judgment and thinking processes, loss of balance, and problems with vision and speech.


An NCAA study reports that around 30% of a student population at least once attended a practice or a game, impaired by prior alcohol or drug use – the good news is that 23% of the college athletes didn’t drink at all, and 13% were abstinent during the playing season. None of the athletes used alcohol as a means to enhance their performance.

Alcohol and Emotional Problems

Such are the major depressive effects of alcohol on the system, that using alcohol is always detrimental to a top athletic performance. Alcohol effects can linger on for several hours after a drinking session. Regular alcohol drinking will cause continual under performance, compared with performance that could be achieved if abstinent from alcohol.

It is sometimes found with top level athletes that they are into drug use – generally of the type thought to enhance performance. Sometimes however athletes will use depressants – that provide chemical relief from feelings of tension and pressure.

Athletes who feel under pressure to the extent that they drink alcohol to excess, need to assess their attitude towards sport, their performance and the need to drink. Athletes struggling with emotional problems, whether or not related to sport, to the extent that they are drinking alcohol might find a resolution of their issues by attending a comprehensive alcohol and drug addiction recovery program conducted by Narconon.

Drug and Alcohol Use is a Sign that Things Are not in Order Narconon understands the demands made upon athletes, the demands that they place on themselves. Drug use is a sign that things are not in order – mind and body must work together to create and maintain optimal performance. The Narconon alcohol abuse rehab program provides a high standard of treatment for people with addiction that comprehensively resolves all substance abuse problems. Athletes who have turned to alcohol or drug use and who want to get completely clean and drug-free, can get help at any Narconon rehab center. Their detoxification and rehabilitation program is 100% drug-free and supportive of optimal athletic endeavor.