What Alcohol Does to Your Body: Harvard’s Dr. Sarah Wakeman With the Medical Facts You Need to Know


The Mel Robbins Podcast with Dr. Sarah Wakeman


Listen to the Mel Robbins Podcast twice per week, every Monday and Thursday, to achieve the life of your dreams.


Today you’re getting a masterclass from one of the most renowned and respected experts on alcohol.

She’s here to give you the latest research and science of how alcohol impacts your body, brain, and mind. She’s going to give you facts, dispel myths, and help you be informed about the decisions you are making when it comes to your mental, physical, and emotional health when it comes to alcohol consumption.

Dr. Sarah Wakeman is Senior Medical Director of Substance Use Disorder at Mass General Brigham, home to nationally recognized hospitals and cutting-edge research. She's also an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Program Director of Mass General Substance Use Addiction Services.

How much is TOO much alcohol?

Is some alcohol healthy?

What happens to your brain when you drink?

And how do you help someone you love who drinks too much?

Get the latest research so that you make the most informed decisions about the role alcohol plays in your life.

Connect with Mel:

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • 4:40: What is alcohol and what does it do when we drink it?
  • 5:30: How is alcohol formed in the first place?
  • 5:55: Wait. Alcohol that we drink is the same as WHAT?
  • 7:20: Are there negative impacts to having a drink every night?
  • 9:30: Know THIS about alcohol, especially if cancer runs in your family.
  • 10:30: What alcohol does to your liver, and how you can change that.
  • 12:25: This recent event increased alcohol use in the U.S.
  • 12:45: What does alcohol impact your kidneys?
  • 13:30: Does alcohol damage your gut microbiome and does it matter?
  • 14:50: Ask yourself these 3 questions to assess the role alcohol plays in your life.
  • 17:45: How much drinking is too much, from a medical perspective?
  • 19:00: Here’s why many people don’t share their alcohol habits with doctors.
  • 20:30: 7 questions to ask if you or someone you love has a problem.
  • 25:15: Physical symptoms of alcohol overuse. 
  • 26:00: 7 benefits you’ll see pretty quickly once you stop drinking. 
  • 27:10: How does drinking make menopause worse?
  • 28:00: Think alcohol makes you sleep better? This is what actually happens.
  • 29:00: What’s a hangover and what happens in your body?
  • 31:00: This is how alcohol increases anxiety. 
  • 33:05: If you’re living with depression, this might actually be the reason.
  • 34:00: Keep forgetting names and important information? 
  • 37:00: What to do and NOT do when talking to someone about alcohol.
  • 40:00: Why a tough love approach doesn’t work for alcoholics.
  • 42:30: Why most people avoid seeking help with their relationship to alcohol.
  • 45:00: What’s the most effective way to talk to your kids about drug use?
  • 46:30: The 5 most important things to communicate to someone you love.
  • 47:50: The 3 important first steps when you’re the one who wants to quit.
  • 49:50: Set yourself up for success so that you stick to your alcohol-free goal.
  • 50:30: How can you get the support you need?
  • 52:22: What to know if you have an alcohol use disorder.

Resources and go deeper:

Sarah Wakeman References & Research

  • Follow her on X here
  • See Sarah’s medical profile here.

More Episodes For You

Health & Wellness

Listen, watch, or subscribe

In The Mel Robbins Podcast, Mel takes you behind the scenes in real-time. Every episode is packed with tactical advice, hilarious screwups, compelling conversations, and the tools and inspiration you need to create a better life.