The effects of alcohol on the body start from the first sip, even if you don’t feel it right away.
So, the effects of alcohol are known to those who drink. It’s a journey, from the warm buzz to the nasty headache as a sign of a hangover.
If you don’t drink much, these effects won’t last, so you don’t need to worry as much about them.
A couple of beers or glasses of wine at lunch or special events do not pose a great risk for most people. However, it is worth mentioning that any amount of alcohol has unintended consequences for health.
Those who drink to excess should be careful, but also those who drink in moderation. Also, everyone who comes in contact with alcohol faces risks. Do you want to know which ones?
How to have moderation when drinking?
Moderate alcohol consumption implies one drink or less per day for women; and two or less a day for men.
In general, a daily drink of alcohol poses little health risk, and is even claimed to have some health benefits.
However, there is more recent research that mentions that there is no “safe” amount of alcohol. Even moderate consumption is said to have detrimental effects on health.
So, over time, alcohol use can have a negative effect on physical and mental health. If you drink regularly, the effects may be more noticeable.
Get the details on how the effects of alcohol can affect your body, brain and emotional health.
You can also get support if you want to reduce your alcohol consumption, we can give you some tips and warnings.
Short-term effects of alcohol on the body
While you drink alcohol (and after), you may notice the following temporary effects:
- Drowsiness or relaxation
- Euphoria or vertigo
- some mood swings
- reduction of inhibitions
- Slurred or slow voice
- vomiting and nausea
- Changes in perception, hearing and vision
- poor coordination
- Difficult to focus
- Fainting, loss of consciousness, or blackouts
Sometimes a drink is enough to show some of these effects, such as relaxation and disinhibition. But various drinks can cause unconsciousness or slurred speech.
Afterward, there may be dehydrating effects: nausea, headaches and dizziness. They take a few hours to show up, depending on the drink, how much you drink, and whether or not you also drink water.
These effects may not last long, but they are still significant. Some can negatively affect your judgment and behavior. Also, they can even lead to accidents, injuries, or unfortunate decisions. You can go from fun to regret very quickly.
The long-term effects of alcohol
Alcohol always affects a person’s health and mind, however, frequent and prolonged consumption can have the following effects:
- Anxiety and irritability
- Sleep disorders and insomnia
- Weakened immune system (you will get sicker)
- Changes in sexual function and libido
- Weight gain and increased appetite
- Memory and concentration problems
- Becoming more prone to live in tension and conflict in your social circle
The effects of alcohol on the body
Find out how alcohol affects internal organs:
Digestive and endocrine glands. If you expose yourself to excessive amounts of alcohol you could suffer from pancreatitis, with serious complications. It causes abdominal pain by activating pancreatic digestive enzymes.
Inflammation. The liver breaks down and removes toxins and harmful substances (such as alcohol). Prolonged use of alcohol interferes with this process. Also, there is a risk of liver disease and chronic inflammation of the liver. This can lead to cirrhosis.
Sugar levels. The pancreas controls insulin and glucose. If it doesn’t work well, imbalances such as hypoglycemia occur. Then you will need to control your sugar intake and conditions such as diabetes. If you already have these diseases, you should avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
Central Nervous System. Difficulty speaking is a sign of intoxication, as an effect of communication between the brain and the body. For this reason, it is more difficult to speak, drive and coordinate. Alcohol can damage your nervous system and frontal lobe in the long run. You will feel numbness and tingling in your hands and feet, plus you will not be able to think clearly. Also, you won’t be able to have long-term memories, make rational decisions, or regulate your emotions. You can suffer from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
Your digestive system and alcohol consumption may not immediately seem related. But you only see the damage when it’s done and the side effects appear. These symptoms can appear and get worse if you continue to drink.
You may not be able to properly digest food and poorly absorb vitamins and minerals. You can suffer from malnutrition over time.
In addition to these effects, excessive alcohol consumption causes:
- the feeling of fullness in the abdomen
- diarrhea or constipation
- ulcers or hemorrhoids (due to dehydration and constipation)
- If left untreated, ulcers can cause dangerous internal bleeding and even death
The effects of chronic alcohol use can increase the risk of heart disease. You can experience:
- high blood pressure
- irregular heartbeat
- Difficulty pumping blood through the body
- Heart attacks
- cardiovascular disease
- Heart failure
- Vitamin and mineral deficiency anemia
Sexual and reproductive health
Drinking alcohol can make you less inhibited, so you might think alcohol can increase your fun in the bedroom. However, excessive drinking can:
- Decrease the production of sex hormones
- lower your libido
- Prevent you from having or maintaining an erection
- complicate or eliminate orgasm
- Affect your menstrual cycle and potentially increase your risk of infertility
Effects of alcohol during pregnancy
It is not considered safe for pregnant women to consume any amount of alcohol. You can suffer premature births, stillbirths and miscarriages. The product in the uterus can also suffer from a variety of subsequent complications:
- learning difficulties
- long-term health problems
- increased emotional problems
- lack of development
Skeletal and muscular systems
The long-term effects of alcohol can affect bone density, that is, you have thinner bones and a higher risk of fractures. Also these injuries may take longer to heal.
Also, muscles can become weak, cramp, and eventually atrophy.
A habit of excessive drinking reduces the body’s natural immunity. It is more difficult to fight viruses and germs with this weakened immune system.
Tuberculosis or pneumonia may develop. Thus, alcohol consumption contributes to 8.1% of tuberculosis cases worldwide, according to the WHO.
There is an increased risk of cancer with alcohol consumption:
- You are more likely to develop cancer of the mouth, throat, breast, esophagus, colon, or liver.
- You are more likely to develop mouth or throat cancer if you drink alcohol and smoke at the same time.
Effects of alcohol on the mind
When you drink alcohol for a long time, your brain can undergo changes in your concentration and memory, the control of your impulses. Even hangovers can cause anxiety.
Alcohol damages your personality, emotions and mood. It can worsen various mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
Alcohol use can contribute to worsening your mental symptoms:
- Bipolar disorder
- Sleep disorder
- anxiety disorder
If you have these conditions, you will notice the symptoms when you are intoxicated.
You will notice a rapid improvement as soon as you abstain from alcohol consumption.
Effects of alcohol: Dependence
Alcohol tolerance develops in some people who drink too much. This causes them to drink more to achieve the same effects they once enjoyed.
Regular alcohol consumption can also lead to dependency, which means that the body and brain have become used to its effects.
If you stop drinking, you may experience physical, emotional, or mental health symptoms. They may go away when you start drinking again.
Alcohol use disorder is also called alcoholism. It is the mental health condition characterized by tolerance and dependence, when the body becomes dependent on alcohol.
The severity of this condition depends on the symptoms:
- feel the desire to drink
- drink more over time
- have trouble stopping after a drink
- inability to stop drinking when you try
- continue to drink alcohol, even when you feel a negative impact on your health or daily life
- spending a lot of time in activities related to alcohol consumption
Withdrawal can be challenging and in some cases even life-threatening. So, if you want to stop drinking you should see a health professional. It all depends on how often and how much you drink.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
- high blood pressure
- irregular heartbeat
- heavy sweating
- In severe cases, there are seizures, hallucinations, and delirium.
You can safely stop drinking with medical detox. Also, you may be prescribed treatment at home or in a clinic, depending on the severity of your symptoms.
Risk factors in the effects of alcohol
Certain factors can increase your chances of experiencing alcoholism:
- excessive alcohol consumption
- continuous stress
- having partners or family members who drink a lot too
- having genes that affect your sensitivity to alcohol
- having anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, or another mental health condition
- having a close relative, especially a parent, with alcoholism
Find treatment for alcohol use disorder
Thinking of cutting down on your alcohol intake or abstaining entirely?
You have many support and treatment options:
- free recovery support groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous
- online recovery platforms
- therapy to help address reasons for drinking and learn helpful coping skills
- medical treatment to address symptoms of alcohol use disorder and any related health problems
- medicines to reduce the craving to drink
Safety tips on the effects of alcohol
Although there is no completely safe way to drink, this can help you reduce some risks:
- Be sure to eat. It is better not to drink on an empty stomach to avoid intoxication.
- Drink plenty of water. For every standard drink you consume, try to drink a glass of water.
- Not so fast. Drink slowly to give your body enough time to process the alcohol. Your liver can process about an ounce of alcohol every hour.
- Do not mix with other substances. Mixing alcohol with caffeine can hide the depressing effects of alcohol, making you drink more than you otherwise would. Drinking coffee to sober up can make you feel more awake, but it can also make you more likely to make the mistake of trying to drive under the influence. The combination of alcohol with other drugs can also have adverse effects.
- Also, don’t drink and drive. Never drive while intoxicated. Even if you feel like you’ve sobered up, you may still have alcohol in your system that can affect your reaction time.
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