Effects of Alcohol on Your Body
Short-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body
Although a person may not be abusing alcohol regularly, they can still experience its short-term effects on the mind and body. The liver can metabolize about one standard drink of alcohol per hour.3 However, this can vary depending on a number of factors, including the individual’s age, weight, liver function, and gender.9 Typically, consuming more than one beverage per hour can lead to intoxication, raising an individual’s blood alcohol content (BAC) with each drink.3
The effects of alcohol can range from mild, such as skin flushing, to more severe symptoms such as passing out or vomiting.
Long-Term Effects Of Alcohol on the Body
Drinking too much over time can cause chronic physical and mental health issues. Heavy drinking can cause or contribute to liver damage, cardiovascular disease, and multiple types of cancer.5,7,13
Long-term effects of excessive drinking may include: 5,11,13,16
- Diminished gray matter and white matter in the brain.
- Memory loss.
- Loss of attention span.
- Trouble learning.
- Alcoholic hepatitis.
- Liver fibrosis.
- Steatosis (i.e., fatty liver disease).
- Throat, mouth, larynx, breast, liver, colorectal, or esophageal cancer.
- High blood pressure.
- Irregular heart beat.
What is Binge Drinking?
Binge drinking is a dangerous practice that can cause physical harm. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) classifies binge drinking as a drinking pattern that leads to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08 g/dL and above.6 For adult women, that’s typically around 4 drinks (5 for adult men) within a couple of hours of each other.6
Binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning occurs when the body has consumed more alcohol in a short period of time than it can process. The toxic effects of alcohol overwhelm the body and can lead to impairment and some even more serious medical side effects, including death in severe cases.
It is extremely important to call 911 if you feel a person is experiencing alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning can cause permanent brain damage and even death. A person’s BAC can keep rising after they stop drinking and even after they pass out.18
Effects of Alcoholism on the Body
Alcoholism and chronic heavy drinking are associated with many serious health problems.5
Psychological Effects of Alcohol
When it comes to the brain, alcohol acts as a depressant to the CNS. However, it can have inconsistent effects, exciting users under some conditions and sedating users under other conditions. Excitement, typically at lower doses, may be due to alcohol suppressing the inhibitory parts of the brain.
Excessive alcohol use, even if not chronic, can lead to alcohol-induced psychiatric syndromes, such as alcohol-induced depressive disorder, alcohol-induced bipolar disorder, alcohol-induced sleep disorder, alcohol-induced psychotic disorder, and more.17,22 These disorders are temporary and can occur after significant intoxication and/or withdrawal.22
Alcohol use disorder is also linked to several mental illnesses.
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Finding Treatment for Alcohol Addiction
Alcohol use disorders occur on a spectrum, and each person is unique. If you or someone you know is ready to discuss treatment, our admissions navigators are available 24/7 to speak with you today at . The type of treatment that will be most suitable for you will likely be influenced by your alcohol history, other substance use history, previous attempts at treatment, any co-occurring medical and/or mental health conditions, and your current situation.
As the leader in addiction treatment American Addiction Centers specializes in helping people recover from alcohol addiction. If you are looking for more information about alcohol addiction, find some useful information for those seeking guidance; or you can learn more about insurance coverage and instantly verify insurance with an AAC facility.