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Effects of Alcohol Abuse

The effects of alcohol on your brain and body will start from the first sip you take. Although taking the occasional beer or glass of wine with your dinner might not always be concerning, you can be sure that the cumulative effects of consuming this substance can end up causing issues in your life.

Regardless of whether you have received a diagnosis for an alcohol use disorder or you only drink socially, there are many psychological and physical consequences that arise due to drinking. Read on to find out more:

Understanding Alcohol Abuse

Various sources have pointed out that consuming alcohol moderately comes with some health benefits. For instance, some studies show that drinking lightly to moderately can decrease your risk of heart disease, sudden cardiac death, peripheral vascular disease, clot-caused (ischemic) stroke, and heart attack.

Even so, you need to understand that it is not just the amount of alcohol that you consume that will play a role in increasing your risk of suffering various adverse effects. In fact, the amount you drink at any given time will have a role to place.

For instance, drinking 5 alcoholic beverages over the weekend cannot be equated to having a single drink every day of the week. The health benefits of moderate drinking, to this end, are often linked to consuming alcohol in small amounts on a regular basis.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, for instance, says that moderate drinking involves taking 1 to 2 drinks if you are a man and 1 drink if you are a woman (on a daily basis). This single drink generally refers to:

  • 12 ounces (beer)
  • 5 ounces (wine)
  • 5-ounce shot (hard liquor)

That said, different studies have different definitions of moderate drinking. The important thing to keep in mind is that the risks that are associated with drinking often end up outweighing any potential benefits.

If you drink heavily on a regular basis, however, there is a high risk that you could end up suffering the following negative consequences:

  • Certain cancers
  • Depression
  • Fatal traffic accidents
  • Heart problems
  • Legal problems
  • Liver damage
  • Violent behavior
  • Unintended pregnancy.
  • Sexually transmitted diseases

If you continue abusing alcohol on a regular basis for the long term, you may also develop an alcohol use disorder, or alcoholism. Every time you engage in binge drinking will increase your risk of developing this condition. Once you develop it, you will no longer be able to stop consuming alcohol irrespective of the negative effects that you suffer as a result.

Short Term Effects

Even though you may not choose to abuse alcohol on a regular basis, there is still a high risk that you could experience some of the short term effects of this substance. These effects will be both psychological and physical.

The liver, when it is healthy, can metabolize around 1 standard alcoholic drink per hour. However, this may vary based on various factors, including your gender, the functioning of your liver, your weight, and age.

It is for this reason that you may become intoxicated if you consume over 1 standard alcoholic beverage in a hour. This is because it will raise your BAC, or blood alcohol content with every drink you take.

The common side-effects of drinking alcohol will often range from the mild to the severe. However, in the short term, you can expect to experience any combination of the following effects:

  • Anemia (or losing red blood cells)
  • Blackouts
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Coma
  • Decreased perception
  • Diarrhea
  • Distorted vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Dulled perception
  • Headaches
  • Hearing difficulties
  • Impaired judgment
  • Issues with coordination
  • Issues with vision
  • Loss of coordination
  • Loss of judgment
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Memory lapses, where you cannot remember the events that transpired while you were intoxicated
  • Mood swings.
  • Passing out
  • Poor social judgment
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Reduced body temperature
  • Skin flushing
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Unconsciousness
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting

Long Term Effects

On the other hand, if you continue drinking excessively over the long term, there is a high probability that you will develop chronic mental and physical health issues. Ongoing heavy drinking might, for instance, lead to the following long term effects:

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Amnesia
  • Apathy
  • Broken relationships
  • Cancers of the throat and mouth
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diminished white and gray matter in your brain
  • Disorientation
  • Gastritis (or the inflammation of the stomach walls)
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased family problems
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Liver damage
  • Liver disease
  • Liver fibrosis
  • Loss of productivity
  • Loss of regular attention span
  • Malnutrition
  • Memory loss
  • Nerve damage
  • Permanent brain damage
  • Sexual problems
  • Steatosis (or fatty liver)
  • Stroke
  • Throat, larynx, mouth, breast, colorectal, liver, or esophageal cancer
  • Trouble learning
  • Ulcers
  • Unintentional injuries, including drowning, car crashes, burns, falls, firearm injuries, domestic violence, and sexual assault
  • Vitamin B1 deficiency

Effects of Alcohol Poisoning

Finally, binge drinking on a regular basis could increase your risk of suffering alcohol poisoning, a type of drug overdose. This will happen if you exceed BAC levels of 0.08 g/dL. This amounts to drinking more than 5 drinks if you are male or 4 drinks if you are female in a few hours. When this happens, it could lead to the following symptoms of alcohol poisoning:

  • Confusion
  • Cyanosis, or a blue tint to the skin
  • Irregular breathing
  • Low body temperature (or hypothermia)
  • Nausea
  • Pale skin
  • Seizures
  • Slowed breathing
  • Unconsciousness
  • Vomiting

If you experience any of these symptoms after drinking excessively, you should call 911 immediately. This is because alcohol poisoning or overdose can lead to adverse outcomes, including permanent brain damage and death.

Getting Help

All of these negative effects of alcohol abuse can cause you to suffer in various ways. To ensure that this does not continue happening, check into an inpatient or outpatient alcohol addiction treatment and rehabilitation center to get started on the road to recovery.


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