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The Concerning Correlation Between Alcohol and Muscle Growth

The Effects of Alcohol on Muscles & Joints

Alcohol is one such substance that can lead to lasting damage, posing a serious threat to a person’s physical and mental health.

Our muscles are especially prone to damage and inefficiency because they are essential for aiding our body’s movements. Serious consequences may result from the compromise of these essential elements, causing substantial difficulties in our day-to-day activities. Banyan Treatment Centers Heartland examines the negative relationship between alcohol and muscle growth, as well as the potential risks alcohol poses and how crucial it is to comprehend how it affects our physical health and performance.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Muscular System?

With time, alcohol can have a permanent negative effect on the muscular system in addition to short-term impairment. When alcohol is used regularly, the toxins it contains can gradually damage our muscles, leading to a variety of negative repercussions. The duration and severity of these issues are significantly influenced by the quantity and frequency of alcohol use.

Some of the possible alcohol effects on muscles include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Decreased muscle efficiency
  • Arthritis
  • Type II muscle fiber atrophy
  • Alcohol-induced rhabdomyolysis

Making wise choices about alcohol intake requires an understanding of the substantial effects that it can have on the musculoskeletal system. By being aware of the dangers and effects, people may take action to put their physical health first and, if necessary, get the support they need.

Does Alcohol Affect Muscle Growth?

Yes, drinking alcohol may hinder the growth of muscle. Alcohol can impede the body's capacity to develop and repair muscle tissue when ingested in excess. It primarily accomplishes this by interfering with protein synthesis, an essential procedure for the development of muscle. The synthesis of essential hormones and enzymes required for effective protein synthesis is inhibited by alcohol. This implies that the benefits of regular strength training activities may be offset if you drink alcohol in excess.

Moreover, alcohol and muscle growth correlate due to the lack of hydration and minerals needed to develop muscle mass. Alcohol increases the body's fluid loss due to its diuretic properties, raising the risk of dehydration. This could impair muscles' capacity to heal and perform. Additionally, alcohol consumption may hinder the body's absorption of certain nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, which are essential for keeping healthy muscles. Particularly, alcohol can interfere with the body's absorption of minerals, including calcium, vitamin D, and certain B vitamins that are necessary for normal muscular growth and function. Many are also susceptible to experiencing muscle pain after drinking alcohol.

Does Alcohol Relax Muscles?

Alcohol does have a calming impact on the muscles, although that is not necessarily a good thing. Alcohol consumption causes the central nervous system to slow down or become depressed. This may result in the body as a whole, including the muscles, feeling generally relaxed. As a result, after drinking alcohol, some people may notice a brief release of tenseness in their muscles and an increase in comfort. But, it's crucial to remember that although alcohol could make you feel calmer temporarily, it can also affect your fine motor skills and coordination, which could result in mishaps or injury. Furthermore, abusing alcohol as a muscle relaxant might be troublesome because excessive or prolonged alcohol use can have several detrimental impacts on one's health.

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Muscular System

The damage will depend a lot on the amount of alcohol regularly consumed, the presence of an alcohol abuse disorder, and the length of time of this condition. As a provider of Illinois addiction treatment for alcohol, we understand that for many alcoholics, these effects may seem harmless and worth it, but the long-term effects of alcohol on muscles can be much more severe.


For some people, alcohol’s effects on the joints and muscles may extend to arthritis. When alcohol and arthritis are combined, the result of inflamed joints can make movement painful. While moderate drinking has been found to reduce the risk of developing arthritis, heavy drinking can cause more alcohol joint inflammation that may irritate rheumatoid arthritis and gout. People with this condition may experience a substantial amount of joint pain after drinking alcohol in excess.

Type II Muscle Fiber Atrophy

A possible long-term effect of alcohol on the muscular system is type II muscle fiber atrophy. Type II muscle fibers are considered anaerobic fast-twitch muscle fibers. They are used for faster reactions but fatigue easily. Atrophy is the gradual decrease in muscle mass and strength that can make movements harder. In one study of chronic alcoholics, 33% of them had type II muscle fiber atrophy.4 This condition can lead to noticeably impaired movements, especially after an extended time of alcohol abuse.

Alcohol-Induced Rhabdomyolysis

Rhabdomyolysis is the breakdown of muscles. Because of alcohol’s effects on muscle tissues, one of the major causes of rhabdomyolysis is chronic alcohol use. In one study, as many as 67% of nontraumatic rhabdomyolysis cases involved alcohol.1 Not only does it leave a person weak, but this condition also includes the release of myoglobin, a damaging protein, into the bloodstream that can harm the kidneys. Early detection of rhabdomyolysis can minimize the damage.

Some signs of alcohol-induced rhabdomyolysis include:

  • Extreme muscle pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Dark urine
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness

If a person is experiencing a damaging correlation between muscular development and alcohol consumption, all facets of their condition must be properly addressed. Thankfully, some of the effects of alcohol on muscles may be reversed.

Does Quitting Alcohol Help Build Muscle?

Studies found that abstinence from drinking after an alcohol detox led to improvements in muscle functions in many subjects.2 This emphasizes how remarkably resilient the human body is when it has the chance to mend. Nonetheless, it's important to remember that the length and intensity of the drinking problem may have an impact on how successful this rehabilitation process is. The body may suffer more extensive harm, including injury to the muscles, and recovery may be more difficult in cases of severe and prolonged alcohol addiction.

For example, in the context of a condition like rhabdomyolysis, early detection and intervention are crucial.3 Timely treatment can help prevent further complications and mitigate potential long-term consequences. Unfortunately, if rhabdomyolysis is diagnosed late, it can lead to irreversible kidney damage, highlighting the importance of seeking medical attention promptly, especially for individuals with a history of alcohol misuse. This emphasizes the significance of not only abstaining from alcohol but also seeking appropriate medical care and support to maximize the chances of recovery and overall well-being.3

At our Heartland Treatment Center, we help people stop drinking or using drugs so they can move forward with their lives. Our Heartland detox program for alcohol is an excellent option to help patients navigate the dangerous and potentially life-threatening withdrawal symptoms of this disease. Addiction can have lasting negative physical effects on the body, so it is better to stop early.

If you or a loved one has a drinking or drug problem, act now. Call us today at 888-280-4763 to learn more about our programs at our Illinois rehabs.


  1. JABFM - Nontraumatic Rhabdomyolysis with Long-Term Alcohol Intoxication
  2. NCBI - Alcoholic skeletal myopathy, a clinical and pathological study.
  3. NCBI - Acute kidney injury due to rhabdomyolysis and renal replacement therapy: a critical review
  4. NCBI - Significance of type II fiber atrophy in chronic alcoholic myopathy.
  5. Medical News Today - How does alcohol affect rheumatoid arthritis?
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
The Concerning Correlation Between Alcohol and Muscle Growth
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