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Short Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol consumption has become an acceptable pastime in today’s society. Nowadays, a person can be abusing alcohol on a regular basis without being noticed until he or she does something out of the ordinary while intoxicated.

For casual drinkers, the short term effects of alcohol come and go with little to no repercussions to be expected. For regular drinkers, the short term effects of alcohol become more pronounced. For heavy drinkers, the short term effects of alcohol can be life-altering to say the least.

As with any mind-altering substance, alcohol’s short term effects produce both physical and behavioral changes. These changes become more pronounced the longer a person engages in alcohol abuse, meaning the short term effects of alcohol will likely “evolve” over time.

Short-Term Physical Effects

As a central nervous system depressant, the most notable short term effects of alcohol have to do with its ability to slow down the body’s major systems. According to the University of Notre Dame, within the first few hours of drinking, a person can expect to experience one or more of the following symptoms –

  • Less sensitive to pain sensations
  • Slurred speech patterns
  • Impaired motor coordination
  • Blurry vision

People who consume large quantities of alcohol at a time may experience even more severe symptoms, some of which include –

  • Inability to perceive heights and distances
  • Dizziness
  • Inability to maintain balance or coordination for any length of time

Short-Term Behavioral Effects

alcohol use disorders

Alcohol can have many immediate consequences.

According to the University of California, incidents involving alcohol-related violence between intimate partners make up 66 percent of all domestic violence reports. As one of the highly desired short term effects of alcohol, alcohol’s ability to reduce a person’s inhibitions drives many an unsuspecting drinker to behave inappropriately, sometimes to the extreme. This short term effect applies for the casual, regular and heavy drinker alike.

People with a long-time history of heavy drinking will likely experience other more serious effects from alcohol, such as blackouts and memory lapses. According to the National Institute on Alcoholism & Alcohol Abuse, the effects of alcohol over time cause considerable damage to brain cells and brain functions overall. As heavy drinkers have reached a point where consuming large quantities of alcohol is commonplace, these drinkers all but shut down their cognitive functions with each drinking session.

Inability to Stop or Control Drinking Behaviors

The brain develops an ongoing tolerance for alcohol’s effects, so people who drink on a regular basis will require increasingly greater quantities of alcohol to experience its desired effects. Over time, a person can actually lose track of the amounts of alcohol he or she consumes once the brain develops a high tolerance level. This short term effect of alcohol takes shape once the brain has become physically dependent on alcohol’s effects.

Withdrawal Effects

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, a physical dependency on alcohol leaves the brain unable to regulate bodily functions as normal in the absence of alcohol. For chronic alcoholics, tolerance levels have reached a point where no amount of alcohol can keep brain functions running normally.

Under these conditions, withdrawal becomes a frequent short term effect of alcohol. For most people, withdrawal effects take the form of –

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Profuse sweating
  • Cravings for alcohol
  • Loss of appetite
  • Tremors

In effect, continued alcohol abuse results in widespread brain chemical imbalances. The greater the imbalance the more severe alcohol’s short term effects will be.

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