The physical effects of alcohol depend a lot on how much alcohol has been consumed and a person’s individual tolerance.
Short term effects of alcohol can range from uninhibited, even irritating, behavior to serious illness or even death.
Moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages, as little as two drinks, can impair cognitive ability, leading to poor judgment. It can also lower inhibitions just enough to cause behavioral changes ranging from becoming more talkative and outgoing to engaging in sexual relationships when one wouldn’t ordinarily do so.
An example of serious physical effects of alcohol is the loss of coordination and reaction time when driving a vehicle. Someone who has had a few drinks may feel fine and quite capable of driving.
Yet, their reflexes and mental abilities have been compromised by the alcoholic beverage consumption. This is the primary cause of a significant number of car accidents, about 40 % of all accidents in the USA, for example.
The bloodstream absorbs alcohol quickly, although the rate of absorption does depend on how many drinks you have had over what period of time and the type and amount of food you have eaten.
For example, if you have been eating foods high in carbohydrates and fats, the alcohol will generally be absorbed into the bloodstream more slowly. This doesn’t apply to sparkling alcoholic beverages like champagne though. These are actually absorbed faster.
Usually people will experience the physical effects of alcohol within ten minutes of having a drink and blood alcohol content (BAC) will be at a maximum usually forty to sixty minutes later.
The BAC will remain steady until the liver is able to metabolize the alcohol which will be at the rate of about one drink per hour. Short term effects of alcohol intoxication are the direct result of increases in the BAC levels.
There are seven main short term effects of alcohol on human beings:
• 1- Lowered Inhibitions – once a person’s BAC reaches 0.05, their behavior begins to change noticeably. When we drink, our behavior is affected. Physical effects of alcohol include a tendency to engage in behaviors not typical of the drinker including sexual promiscuity, driving under the influence, illegal drug use, even violence and further intoxication.
• 2- Poor Coordination – once BAC levels reach 0.10, one of the most obvious physical effects of alcohol is slurred speech. Other short term effects of alcohol intoxication are the inability to think clearly and lack of coordination. These consequences can easily cause falls and other accidents.
• 3- Blackouts and Loss of Memory – alcohol consumption affects brain function. As more is absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to the brain, people can experience significant gaps in their memory. They do not know where they have been, what they have said or done.
• 4- Nausea Sickness – alcohol is a poison. When you drink too much of it, the body may attempt to get rid of it by causing the drinker to vomit. At other times, a person who has been drinking can feel nauseous because the alcohol has interfered with the body’s sense of balance.
• 5- Hangovers and Headaches – it is surprising that hangovers are considered short term effects of alcohol since they are usually assumed to occur the next day. However, hangovers can be felt only a few hours after consuming alcohol, especially if the person has become dehydrated as a result of drinking. Headaches are also a common consequence of drinking too much.
• 6- Stupor – once blood alcohol reaches 0.40, a person is in serious trouble. They are likely to be extremely disoriented, confused and uncoordinated. Their brain and muscular functions will be seriously impaired.
• 7- Coma – once alcohol in the blood has reached a concentration of 0.50, there is a serious risk that a person will enter a coma. This is extremely dangerous as many coma patients do not recover. There is a high risk of respiratory failure and death.
Long term drinking can increase the risk of long-term physical effects of alcohol occurring. Alcoholism is one of these risks. Other health risks include liver disease, diabetes, obesity and related issues.
Alcoholism tends to be diagnosed when a person’s drinking interferes with their ability to function well, negatively impacts physical or mental health, and harms family and other relationships.
‘Alcohol dependency’ is the term used to describe the most severe form of alcoholism. It is recognized by higher levels of tolerance to the short term effects of alcohol as well as withdrawal symptoms when it is not available. It can also be indicated by the presence of serious diseases that have clearly been caused by long term, excessive drinking.
If you recognize yourself or someone close to you in these descriptions, you can take positive steps to learn more about alcoholism and to begin the journey of recovery from addiction and the physical effects of alcohol.
Becoming Sober For Good – Drinking Problems Solutions & Advice from Those Who Succeeded by Author Anne Fletcher.
This resource consists of recovered alcoholic’s personal stories about beginning drinking, how much alcohol they drank, the affect on their lives, why they made the decision to stop drinking, what had been tried and what ultimately worked for them.
The author uses sometimes controversial phrases such as alcohol problems or problems with drinking instead of the term ‘alcoholic’. She views ‘alcoholic’ as an out of date label. Some of the persons in the book achieved sobriety through Alcoholics Anonymous while others found that alternative programs worked best for them.