Alcohol abuse effects can be far-reaching and devastating. The effects of alcohol abuse not only have consequences for the drinker but those around her or him as well. Alcohol abuse effects can be both psychological and physical. Alcohol consumption causes changes in behavior. The physical effects of alcohol abuse can be experienced with as little as one or two drinks. Impaired judgment and coordination needed to operate a car safely may result in the drinker having an accident.
Alcoholism is an illness where alcoholic beverage consumption is at a level that interferes with physical or mental health, and negatively impacts social, family or occupational responsibilities. Alcohol abusers are drinkers that may drink excessively at various times with resulting immediate alcohol abuse effects at the time of excess alcohol consumption.
The immediate physical effects of alcohol abuse can be experienced as soon as ten minutes after drinking begins. With continued alcohol consumption on that occasion, the immediate effects of alcohol abuse worsen and become more serious.
Here are five of the immediate physical alcohol abuse effects:
- Inhibitions Become Reduced – at a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05, changes in a person’s behavior begins to be noticable. Alcohol abuse effects and reduced inhibitions can put a person at higher risk for actions they would otherwise not participate in, such as sexual activity, continued drinking or illegal drug use.
- Loss of Muscle Control – at the level of 0.10, slurred speech will likely be evident. Impaired judgement and poor coordination are physical effects of alcohol abuse that can lead to falls and accidents.
- Memory Loss and/or Blackouts – since alcohol depresses the brain’s control mechanisms, as blood alcohol levels increase, periods of time and certain situations and events may not be remembered afterward.
- Stupor – at a blood alcohol concentration of 0.40, a person can hardly function, acting seriously dazed and confused.
- Coma – at a blood alcohol level of 0.50, a person is at risk for coma, which can be life-threatening. And at this level or higher, respiratory paralysis and death become very much a possibility.
Other alcohol abuse effects that are short-term include nausea, hangovers, headaches and fatigue. The longer a person abuses alcohol over time, the higher the chances of other alcohol abuse effects being experienced and alcohol dependency developing. The most severe form of alcoholism is ‘alcohol dependency’. Physical alcohol dependence is characterized by withdrawal symptoms when alcohol consumption is interrupted, by tolerance to the effects of alcohol abuse and by the presence of alcohol-related illnesses.
Malnutrition can develop from a reduced appetite plus inadequate absorption of nutrients in the intestinal tract and from consuming ’empty’ calories in alcohol. Calories from alcohol are called ’empty’ calories since alcohol contains no beneficial nutrients, vitamins or minerals.
And with continued alcohol consumption and abuse over years, many of the body organs will be affected. Alcohol is especially harmful to the liver since the liver does most of the work of breaking down alcohol. Alcohol destroys liver cells, and it destroys the ability of liver cells to regenerate. This condition leads to progressive imflammatory injury to the liver and eventually can result in cirrhosis of the liver.
Additional long term alcohol abuse effects include damage to the brain, high blood pressure, heart muscle damage, nerve damage, pancreatitis, bleeding in the esophagus, erectile dysfunction in men, fetal alcohol syndrome in the offspring of alcoholic women, insomnia, depression and increased cancer risks.
If you or someone you know may have problems with alcohol and you’d like to learn more about alcoholism and perhaps seek help, there are proven resources available. It is never too late to begin recovery from alcohol addiction and alcohol abuse effects.