Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the main causes of death and disability worldwide. Alcohol consumption is a heritable complex trait. Here we conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of alcohol consumption (g d−1) from the UK Biobank, the Alcohol Genome-Wide Consortium and the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology Plus consortia, collecting data from 480,842 people of European descent to decipher the genetic architecture of alcohol intake. We identified 46 new common loci and investigated their potential functional importance using magnetic resonance imaging data and gene expression studies. We identify genetic pathways associated with alcohol consumption and suggest genetic mechanisms that are shared with neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.