The Short & Long-Term Effects of Alcohol

By Caleb

If you are a frequent drinker, you are probably well aware that alcohol, when consumed in great quantities over long periods of time, is very bad for your body and your long and short-term health. However, for someone with an alcohol dependency, it’s not quite as easy as keeping that knowledge in the back of your head.

If you are looking to reverse course, then it’s important to know your “why”. Part of that “why” should be your physical and mental well-being over the course of the rest of your life. Knowing what alcohol can do to your body can serve as a needed reminder as to why you want to reduce your alcohol consumption.

In this post, we are going to cover some of the long and short-term effects of alcohol consumption and give you insight into the health impact that you are having by consuming it on a daily basis.

Overview of Short-Term & Long-Term: The Effects of Alcohol

Don’t want to read our analysis below? Here is a short overview of what you can expect to happen when you drink alcohol in the short-term and long-term and what impacts on your health are inevitable by doing so.

Short-Term Effects:

• Slurred speech and slowed reaction times

• Increased risk of injury due to impaired coordination

• Nausea and vomiting

• Lowered inhibitions and increased aggression

Long-Term Effects:

• Liver damage, cirrhosis, or cancer

• Heart problems, including stroke and high blood pressure

• Increased risk of cancer, particularly in the mouth and throat

• Damage to brain cells that leads to poor coordination, memory issues, or difficulty with concentration

• Nutritional deficiencies

• Weakened immune system

• Depression and anxiety disorders

• Sexual dysfunction

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol Consumption

Though many people are very concerned with the long-term impacts of alcohol dependence, which are formidable, there are also some short-term impacts that you will need to be on the lookout for.

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Physiological Impacts

Alcohol consumption has been linked to a wide range of short-term physiological impacts that can cause health challenges when it comes to the way excessive alcohol affects your body and how binge drinking can contribute to alcohol-related disease.

While alcohol’s short-term effects will vary depending on the person and the amount consumed, some of the most commonly reported physiological effects are elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, decreased coordination, altered motor skills, and reflexes, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration. Additionally, heavy alcohol consumption can lead to cognitive impairments such as confusion, difficulty concentrating, and impaired judgment. 

The body is also more susceptible to infections after consuming large amounts of alcohol as it impairs the immune system’s ability to fight illnesses. Drinking excessively can also increase the risk for gastritis and ulcers in the stomach lining due to irritation from alcohol exposure. Long-term heavy drinking can damage different parts of the stomach and intestines which can lead to nutritional deficiencies through malabsorption syndrome and other GI tract problems. 

Symptoms Include:

  • Slurred speech & impaired coordination
  • Disruption in normal sleep patterns
  • Decreased production of anti-diuretic hormones resulting in dehydration
  • Damage to blood vessels from excessive alcohol use

Psychological Impacts

Alcohol dependence can have a significant psychological impact on individuals, especially in the short-term. The brain is particularly vulnerable to alcohol’s effects, which can cause changes in mood, cognition and even personality. Common short-term psychological symptoms of alcohol dependence include impaired judgement, reduced impulse control, inhibited self-awareness and decreased inhibition. In addition, drinking too much alcohol often leads to aggression and violence, as well as an increased risk of accidents or injury due to impaired physical performance. 

These negative psychological effects can be compounded by other health challenges prompted by alcohol use disorder. For instance, chronic alcohol consumption can lead to nutrient deficiencies that will further impair cognitive functioning and increase the risk of mental health disorders such as depression or anxiety. Furthermore, alcohol intoxication is associated with increased stress levels and increased risk of suicide. And finally, there may be a greater risk for other diseases related to alcohol abuse like liver cirrhosis or stroke. 

Symptoms Include:

  • Memory loss & reduced decision making ability
  • Mood changes including aggression, anxiety, depression or giddiness Social Impacts
  • Poor concentration & focus on tasks at home or work
  • Increased risk-taking behaviors such as unsafe sex

Long-Term Effects of Alcohol

Physical Health

Alcohol dependence can have severe long-term impacts on an individual’s physical health. Studies have shown that heavy alcohol consumption can lead to cirrhosis of the liver and other forms of organ damage, increases the risk of certain types of cancer, and raises blood pressure which can eventually lead to stroke or heart attack. Furthermore, heavy drinking has been linked to poorer immune system functioning, resulting in a higher susceptibility to infectious diseases. It can also lead to nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorption, vitamin deficiencies, and poor dietary choices while drinking.

Alcohol dependence can even impact bone health as well. Studies have found that alcohol consumption decreases the amount of calcium stored in bones and decreases their mineral density, leading to a greater risk for osteoporosis and fractures. Additionally, it has been linked to an increased risk for pancreatitis as well as mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Symptoms Include:

  • Liver damage due to cirrhosis and fatty liver disease
  • Cardiovascular issues including hypertension, arrhythmia, stroke, and heart attack
  • Malnutrition due to malnutrition from inadequate nutrition

Mental Health

The long-term impacts of alcohol dependence on mental health can be severe and have serious consequences. Over time, heavy drinking can lead to an increase in brain cell death and shrinkage in certain parts of the brain. This can cause cognitive impairments, including difficulty with memory and concentration, as well as changes in mood or personality. It is also associated with an increased risk for developing depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. In addition, it can worsen existing mental health conditions or make it more difficult to treat them.

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Furthermore, alcohol dependence can have serious implications for social functioning as well. People who are addicted to alcohol often experience strain on their relationships with family and friends due to the changes that occur in their personalities while under the influence. They may also struggle financially due to the high costs of addiction treatment or due to the negative consequences associated with impaired judgement from intoxication (e.g., legal problems). 

Symptoms Include:

  • Depression & anxiety disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • Impaired cognitive functioning leads to memory loss, confusion

Want to Avoid These Effects?

If you are ready to start putting yourself on the right track to avoiding these impacts on your health, then you should pursue a plan through The Alcohol Coach. The Alcohol Coach has helped countless women overcome issues stemming from alcohol dependence and the program can help you as well!

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Hi, I'm Michela

I’m a leader in the science of transformational freedom for women, and someone previously addicted to alcohol. I have walked the path. I understand your concerns and fears. Here you will find some of my thoughts and insights. Happy browsing!

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