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Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol is an accepted part of modern culture and everyday life. It’s a tool for social connection, a facilitator for weekend partying and even a part of the culinary world. Millions of people consume alcohol on a regular basis, but most people don’t understand the adverse effects it can have on the human body.

Approximately 16 million Americans struggle with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), a chronic and compulsive drinking condition — but even a small amount of alcohol can have a negative impact on health. Whether you know someone struggling with Alcoholism or you’re looking for more information about substance use, here’s everything you need to know about the effects of alcohol.

What Are the Effects of Alcohol?

The more alcohol an individual consumes, the more it affects the body — but intoxication can have a variety of immediate and long-term effects. Here’s how alcohol affects you immediately as your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises:

  • .02-.03 BAC: Lightheadedness and relaxation
  • .05-.06 BAC: Heightened euphoria, decreased inhibition, impairments to reasoning and memory, exaggerated behavior
  • .08-.09 BAC: Impaired balance, slurred speech, decreased motor skills, impaired judgment, visual and hearing impairments
  • .1-.12 BAC: Further declined speech and motor capabilities, loss of judgment, male sexual dysfunction
  • .14-.17 BAC: Loss of balance, dysphoria, loss of physical control, blackouts, extremely low motor skills, high risk of accidental injury
  • .20 BAC: Nausea, blackouts, vomiting, trouble standing, decreased pain perception, suppressed gag reflex, high risk of aspiration injury
  • .25 BAC: Severe sensory and motor impairment, peak risk of accidental injury or asphyxiation
  • .30 BAC: Stupor, deep loss of consciousness
  • .35 BAC: Possible respiratory arrest or coma
  • .40 BAC: Possible coma or death

Typical effects of alcohol include reduced core body temperature, raised blood pressure and dulled perception, concentration and coordination — but the consequences can be much worse after extremely high consumption.

Physical Signs of Alcoholism

While the short-term effects of alcohol consumption can be damaging, continued heavy drinking can cause serious chronic problems. As regular, relapsing alcohol use becomes more pronounced, people may experience physical symptoms like:

  • Weight gain
  • Reproductive/sexual health problems
  • Stomach issues
  • Frequent illness
  • Tooth decay

Mental Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol doesn’t just affect the body — it has long-term adverse effects on the brain as well. As a depressant, alcohol alters the body’s brain chemistry, leading to immediate and chronic changes in mental capacity. Drinking has a significant effect on the following psychological factors:

  • Mental health: Though people often reach for a drink to lower their stress level and take the edge off, alcohol actually does more harm than good to overall mental health. Long-term consumption interferes with the brain’s neurotransmitters — which can lead to depression, anxiety and enhanced stress. Alcohol is even linked to severe mental illnesses like bipolar disorder, psychosis and self-harm.
  • Brain function: Alcohol slows brain processes and causes long-term damage to memory, speech, movement, thought and other normal functions.
  • Behavior: Heavy consumption alters the mood, induces regular mood swings and can lead to outbursts, psychotic episodes, harmful actions and even suicide.

Physiological Effects of Alcohol

In addition to its mental effects, long-term alcohol use can cause lasting damage to the following body systems:

  • Liver
  • Pancreas
  • Central nervous system
  • Cardiovascular system
  • Reproductive system
  • Bones
  • Digestive system

Diseases and health issues associated with Alcoholism include:

  • Liver issues
  • Oral cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colon cancer
  • Stroke
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Diminished gray and white matter in the brain — leading to decreased brain functionality
  • Difficulty learning
  • Heart problems
  • Reduced fertility
  • Osteoporosis
  • Impaired digestion
  • Diabetes
  • Pancreatitis
  • Tuberculosis
  • Pneumonia
  • And others

How 7 Summit Pathways Can Help

If you or someone you know is struggling with Alcoholism, you’re not alone. Here at 7 Summit Pathways, we know how hopeless addiction can feel — and we know how to lead you down the path to Recovery. Our expert clinical staff is dedicated to developing a customized treatment method for each individual’s rehabilitation. Change your life and reach beyond Alcohol Addiction — contact 7 Summit Pathways or schedule an appointment with us today.