Short-Term Effects of Alcohol Use and Alcoholism

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It is important for everyone to think carefully about how much alcohol they consume. While there are lots of people who use alcohol as a social lubricant, and some people are able to drink in moderation with their family members, friends, and co-workers, there are a variety of short-term effects that alcohol use can have as well.

If someone decides to drink alcohol and drink too much, even these short-term effects can be incredibly dangerous. For these reasons, it is important for everyone to understand the risks of drinking alcohol, and it is critical for people to know what to do if they feel like they need help controlling how much they drink.

Numerous Factors Impact The Short-Term Effects Of Alcohol Use

First, it is critical to understand some of the factors that could play a role in the short-term effects of alcohol use.

Factors that may play a role in the side effects alcohol have on someone include:

  • How old the person was when they drank alcohol for the first time
  • How long they have been drinking alcohol, in terms of years
  • How long they have been drinking alcohol for that evening, in terms of hours 
  • How much alcohol the person has consumed
  • How often the person drinks alcohol
  • Whether the individual has any chronic health conditions that could impact the ability of their body to metabolize alcohol properly 

Because these factors vary significantly from person to person, the way one person responds to alcohol may not be anything like the way the other person responds to alcohol. Some may not be okay to drive after only drinking two drinks, while other people might still be okay to drive after drinking four or five drinks. 

It is critical for everyone to understand how alcohol will impact them before they decide to drink alcohol, as it will have a major impact on how their body responds to alcohol.

What Are The Short-Term Effects Of Alcohol?

It is not unusual for someone to start feeling the effects of alcohol after only one or two standard drinks. Some of the first impacts someone may feel after drinking an alcoholic beverage include:

  • They might start to feel a bit warmer than usual
  • They may notice that their skin turns red and flushed 
  • They might feel a bit loose and relaxed
  • Their inhibitions might be a bit lower than usual
  • They might be more willing to talk to other people around them 

For many people, these effects might be pleasant, and that is why a lot of people enjoy drinking socially. After only the first drink, people will also notice that they need to go to the bathroom a bit more. That is because alcohol is a diuretic, and it causes the kidneys to produce more urine. 

If someone continues to drink past this point, the effects alcohol causes will begin to change.

Some of the most common short-term effects of alcohol that someone may notice if they continue drinking include:

  • They may notice that their reflexes begin to slow.
  • Their coordination will begin to suffer.
  • They might have a difficult time forming words, so their speech might begin to slur.
  • Their emotions might become a bit unpredictable. Some people might become irritable and angry, while other people might become sad and depressed.
  • People will often have a difficult time seeing clearly as they continue drinking. 

Alcohol can have a significant impact on someone’s brain function, which is why even short-term alcohol use can be dangerous. If someone continues to drink alcohol past this point, they may start to develop more serious symptoms. 

For example, alcohol can cause people to lose consciousness, called blackouts. Alcohol can also cause someone to feel incredibly nauseous, and they may even start vomiting. People who drink alcohol may have a difficult time breathing, and it could lead to something known as alcohol poisoning. 

The Symptoms Of Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is incredibly dangerous, and it can develop if someone continues to drink past the point of being drunk (having a blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, over 0.08).

Some of the most common signs of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Acute mental confusion, which could include hallucinations and delusions
  • An inability to remain conscious, which means that people with alcohol poisoning often pass out
  • Acute, intractable vomiting, to the point where someone may end up choking on their own vomit
  • Seizures
  • Severe respiratory depression, which happens when someone breathes very slowly
  • A very slow and light heart rate
  • Skin that appears incredibly sweaty and cold
  • A complete lack of gag reflex, which makes it easy for someone to choke
  • A very low body temperature 

Alcohol poisoning can be life-threatening, so if someone around you has any of the symptoms listed above, it is important to call 911 to ask for emergency support right away. The sooner someone gets help for alcohol poisoning, the better the prognosis will be. 

What Are The Signs That Someone Has A Drinking Problem?

Individuals who are unable to control their drinking need to get help. Clearly, alcohol has a variety of short-term impacts, but it can also have long-term impacts on your health as well.

Some of the signs that someone may have a drinking problem include: 

  • Complaining: If you find that others around you are complaining about your drinking, it may be a sign that you are drinking too much. You may want to think back on scenarios when you have been drinking and what the reactions of other people look like. 
  • More Than Planned: When someone goes out, they generally have a plan for how much they can drink, as they want to be okay to drive home or go to work the next day. If you have noticed that you often drink more than you had planned, it could be a sign that there is a drinking problem.
  • Guilt: Individuals with a drinking problem often feel guilty about how much they drink. They might feel so guilty that they try to hide evidence of how much alcohol they have consumed, which is a dangerous sign.
  • Relationships: Some people with a drinking problem will also struggle to maintain close relationships with their family members and friends. That is because they spend all of their time drinking, so they miss out on important events.
  • Tolerance: People with a drinking problem develop a tolerance to alcohol, so they typically have to drink more to achieve the same effects.
  • Health Issues: The long-term effects of alcohol can also lead to a variety of health problems. The health risks of heavy drinking can be severe, and individuals who drink over many years are at an increased risk of developing a variety of health issues, including pancreatitis (issues with your pancreas) and memory loss.

These are just a few of the many signs that someone could have a drinking problem. It is critical to reach out and ask for help from a professional.

How A Mental Health Professional Can Address Alcohol Use Disorder

Alcohol-related health effects can be severe. Alcohol use disorder can have an impact on your blood pressure, and alcohol affects not only the individual but also his or her family members and friends. Drinking alcohol, particularly binge drinking, can eventually lead to cirrhosis (liver disease) as well.

Because alcohol affects so many parts of your body, it is important to ask for help with alcohol addiction. A mental health professional can address alcohol dependence and help someone figure out why they have been drinking.

Common treatment options for alcohol use disorder include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT
  • Inpatient treatment options
  • Group therapy
  • One-on-one therapy
  • Medication-assisted therapy
  • Intensive outpatient programs 

Get Alcohol Addiction Treatment From Riverside Recovery In Tampa, FL

The short-term effects of alcohol use can be harmful to an individual’s health and overall well-being. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to impaired judgment, slowed reflexes, and increased risk of accidents and injuries. Additionally, alcohol use can cause digestive problems, headaches, and dehydration, leading to a range of unpleasant short-term effects. For those struggling with alcohol addiction, seeking professional help is often necessary to overcome the condition and improve their quality of life. 

At Riverside Recovery of Tampa, we offer comprehensive alcohol use disorder treatment programs designed to address the unique needs and challenges of each individual. Our facility provides a full continuum of care, including medical detoxification individual and group therapy, relapse prevention, and various therapies, all under one roof. 

Contact our admissions team today to learn more about alcohol use disorder and our treatment options available. 

  1. Rehm, J. (2010). The Risks Associated With Alcohol Use and Alcoholism. Alcohol Research & Health, 34(2), 135-143.

  2. Health risks and benefits of alcohol consumption. Alcohol Res Health. 2000;24(1):5-11.