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Why Holding Your Liquor Is a Bad Idea

There are people who gloat about being able to “hold their liquor,” drink more than anyone in the room, and function perfectly fine. The term means being able to drink more alcohol without getting too drunk. However, this is not the best thing to brag about. In fact, holding your liquor is bad for you.

Liquor in your system harms your organs, impairs your cognitive abilities, and skews your thinking and decision-making skills. It causes balance issues, creates a false sense of self, and you could unknowingly be on your way to developing an alcohol use disorder. 

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines a standard drink as one with 14 grams of pure alcohol. Examples of this are 12 fluid ounces of beer, 8 to 9 fluid ounces of malt liquor, 5 fluid ounces of table wine (half a regular wine glass) or 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits. A clearer picture of that can be found here.

Why Holding Your Liquor is Bad

Medically, holding your liquor can bring on several long-term health issues, such as liver and heart damage, cancer, bone disease, gout, type 2 diabetes, stomach, and pancreas inflammation. This practice can also cause or increase anxiety and depression.  

Drinking more alcohol in a short period taxes your brain and body more than you think. You may look and sound mostly sober, but the effect of liquor in your body is already taking place.

It is possible someone you know brags about being able to “outdrink” everyone else. These people claim to be still sober enough to function normally after several drinks. In reality, they will drink more and feel the effects harder later. 

How Alcohol Affects Men, Women

Men and women metabolize alcohol differently. In general, women are smaller than men and have more body fat and less water in their bodies than men. They also have less of an enzyme in their system that breaks down alcohol. This means they feel the effects of alcohol faster and longer than men.

Men are usually larger than women, have more water in the systems, less body fat, and are able to metabolize alcohol faster.


Binge drinking or excessive drinking of liquor can reduce the size of some regions in the brain. It can also cause liver damage faster than men, damage heart muscles, raise the chance of getting breast cancer, and skew menstrual cycles. Heavy drinking also can put the woman at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and HIV, and subject them to violent injury.

Heavy alcohol use mars the appearance of women, as well as men. It causes dark circles under the eyes, weight gain, a bloated appearance, including in the face, and dehydrates the body as a whole. If makeup is left on the face after going to bed drunk, it can create spots. 


Excessive drinking can shrink certain regions of the brain, cause liver, and heart damage. Alcohol affects men’s testosterone levels, sperm count, and sexual performance. It can also cause bone disease, an inflamed pancreas, and stomach irritation.

Heavy alcohol use can also alter a man’s physical appearance. It can wither the testicles, enlarge the breasts, and cause body hair loss and weight gain. It also can cause reddening of the face. Many people also believe the toxins in liquor can promote cellulite.

How Both Women, Men Are Affected

There are men and women who boast their alcohol drinking prowess. It is not safe, healthy, nor cool to tout how well you can hold your liquor. It is dangerous and can lead to injuries as most people think they are still sober.

Heavy drinking increases the chances of being injured or killed in automobile accidents, fatal burn accidents, severe traumas, sexual assaults, or a serious fall.

There is some evidence that people with a family history of alcohol abuse may have a stronger tolerance for alcohol than those who do not.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) notes in its 2017 survey:

  • 66.6 million binge drinkers who were aged 12 or older
  • 7.4 million current alcohol users
  • 4.5 binge alcohol users
  • 0.9 million heavy alcohol drinkers

No matter how well you think you are at holding your liquor, it is bad for you. And it could be bad for someone else.

Standard Drink Size Information

Admittedly, most people drink more than the standard amount of alcohol regularly. Some drink to excess. Others will still think it’s OK to keep on drinking and claim to be stellar at not showing the effects of alcohol. These drinkers may be on their way to an alcohol use disorder. People who do not feel the effects of alcohol quickly tend to drink more.

Holding your liquor is not something in which to brag. In many cases, it means you will drink more, which will wreak havoc on your body soon after and long into your future.


National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. What Is A Standard Drink from

National Institute on Drug Abuse. Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health from

Rethinking Drinking. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism from

Live Science. Holding Their Liquor Makes Women Much Sicker than Men. Maureen Salamon. November 19, 2010 from

Drinkaware. Alcohol and Men. (retrieved September 2019) from

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. What Is A Standard Drink from

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