Short Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse On The Body & Mind

Everyone is affected by alcohol differently. Depending on many variables, such as your tolerance to alcohol and your ability to control how you consume alcohol, the overall short- and long-term effects of alcohol on your physical and mental health conditions may differ.

However, it is evident that exceeding the advised limits of alcohol consumption can have severe short- and long-term impacts on your health.

Alcohol abuse and excessive alcohol consumption can result in alcoholism, a condition in which you require alcohol to function. This can put you at risk for serious illnesses such as liver disease, which may not manifest themselves until later in life.

Alcoholism is a general word that refers to any alcohol consumption that causes behavioural, mental, or physical issues, which is also known as having an alcohol use disorder (AUD). Alcohol abuse and alcohol dependency are two subtypes of alcoholism. Alcohol abuse is characterised by high-risk behaviour.

You are likely to have an increased tolerance if you have any type of alcoholism, and you may experience horrible withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking.

What is Alcohol addiction?

Alcohol dependency, often known as addiction, is a mental and physical illness characterised by unrestrained desires to use alcohol despite its negative effects on one’s relationships, money, and health. Since alcoholism disrupts brain functions and makes it difficult for a person to maintain control over their urges, it can damage their ability to fulfil their daily commitments.

What’s Alcohol Poisoning?

Alcohol poisoning is the potentially harmful result of taking large amounts of alcohol quickly. High alcohol consumption in a short period can have potentially fatal effects on your health. You can still become unwell from drinking if you aren’t careful, regardless of your tolerance levels, weight, age, gender, or general health.

Your blood alcohol content (BAC) will increase the more you consume. The physical, mental, and emotional functions of your body will eventually get impaired as a result of your BAC rising too high. Strangely, even after quitting drinking, a person who abuses alcohol excessively may still start to feel sick from alcohol. One reason for this is that up to 40 minutes after consuming alcohol, BAC levels frequently continue to rise.

If you think you may be suffering from alcohol poisoning, it’s advised against trying to treat yourself because the physical and emotional effects can be deadly and severe. Alcohol poisoning that is not adequately treated can have additional harmful impacts.

Who Is at Risk of The Alcohol Effects?

Alcohol poisoning is a severe condition and should not be taken lightly by anyone who has access to alcohol and drinks irresponsibly. Alcohol poisoning is a condition that can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or race, if they consume a lot of it quickly. However, some demographics are more prone to binge drinking and the risk of alcohol poisoning that comes with it. Both middle-aged individuals and college students frequently make up this group of people.

Most university students are living independently for the first time and enjoying independence. In our early years away from home, it’s crucial that we stay in touch with our families and responsible loved ones. We cannot survive without the love and support we require. Many people in this category are likely to misuse alcohol because of the sheer volume of social activities that take place in the college environment, including substantial alcohol intake and the potential for increased peer pressure.

Middle-aged males are a sizable portion of the population that is most at risk for alcohol poisoning mortality, particularly in the UK, the US, and some regions of Europe. Although many elements lead to alcohol consumption, those who start drinking in their teenage years have a higher chance of developing alcoholism in their later years. Substance misuse and perhaps alcohol poisoning can also be caused by stress and despair.

Underage drinkers run an exceptionally high risk of overdosing on alcohol. According to studies, people under the age of 20 frequently take up to five drinks at a time. The body’s natural ability to break down, metabolise, and eliminate alcohol can be overwhelmed by such a significant amount of alcohol.

What does it mean to drink in moderation?

Specialists currently recommend the following guidelines for moderate drinking:

  • For ladies, 1 drink maximum per day.
  • For men, 2 drinks maximum per day.

A daily drink poses a low danger of detrimental health impacts, according to previous advice on alcohol consumption, and may even have some positive aspects. However, more recent research contends that there is actually no “safe” level to drink alcohol because even moderate alcohol consumption can harm brain function.

What are the Short Term Effects of Alcohol?

You might feel the short-term effects of alcohol even after having a couple of glasses of wine or a pint of beer. You may experience difficulty concentrating in addition to decreased tension and inhibitions, as well as slowed reflexes and reaction times.

High alcohol consumption in a short time might cause several unfavourable short-term adverse effects.

Short-term effects of alcohol are:

  • Slurred speech
  • Decreased visual capacity
  • Unstable emotions
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Passing out
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Alcohol-induced psychosis

Dehydration from alcohol consumption can also cause headaches and nausea the next day.

When using medicines that change the mind while also drinking alcohol, these short-term effects may be amplified. It is advisable to confirm with your doctor that drinking while taking painkillers or medications to address mental health disorders is safe for you.

Alcohol Withdrawal

Alcohol withdrawal can be challenging and, in extreme circumstances, fatal. If you want to stop drinking, you might need support from a healthcare provider depending on how much and how often you drink.

It is always advisable to speak with your doctor before stopping drinking. Going “cold turkey” might not always be a good idea.

Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Nausea
  • Tremors
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Intense sweating

Severe withdrawal might result in seizures, hallucinations, and delirium.

You can stop drinking in a healthy way with the aid of medical detox. Depending on your risk for withdrawal symptoms, your doctor may advise treatment at home or in a clinic.

What are the Effects of Long-Term Alcohol use?

The long-term effects of excessive alcohol consumption can be concerning, especially if you ignore your body’s warning signals.

Long-term heavy drinking might increase your tolerance to the point where you no longer experience the short-term negative consequences that you might otherwise.

Your physical and mental capacities may be negatively impacted over time by alcoholism, including:

  • Depression
  • Liver damage
  • Cancer
  • Immune system issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Nerve damage
  • Long-term brain damage

Excessive intake has long-term impacts that extend beyond your body.

Alcoholism can have an impact on entire families and social groupings. Additionally, it will become more challenging for someone with an alcohol addiction to land or hold a job, which may result in periods of unemployment.

What Effect can Alcohol Have on my Mental Health?

Moderate alcohol use may lead to enhanced social interactions or general feelings of well-being. However, it’s critical to realise that alcohol usage can be dangerous to someone’s mental health, general mood, and daily cognitive performance because of its effects on brain chemicals. Alcohol abuse, especially binge drinking, can worsen comorbid mental conditions like depression and anxiety. Alcohol can also cause anxiety and depression in certain people.

In extreme cases, alcohol use’s cognitive impacts might include dementia, learning difficulties, memory loss, and severely impaired mental function.

The first step in preventing or minimising the harmful effects of alcohol on the brain is to seek treatment for alcohol addiction.

No matter how hopeless your circumstances may seem at the time, it’s never too late to change your life. You can regain control of your life and avoid or lessen many problems related to alcohol misuse by seeking addiction treatment. Get the attention you require by asking for assistance straight away.

Alcohol Safety Tips

Although there isn’t an entirely risk-free method to drink, following these guidelines can help minimise some of the risks:

  • Don’t forget to eat. Avoid drinking on an empty stomach to slow down the onset of intoxication.
  • Take in a lot of water. Make an effort to drink one glass of water for every standard beverage you consume.
  • Don’t go too fast. To allow your body enough time to digest the alcohol, sip gradually. One ounce of alcohol can be broken down by your liver each hour.
  • Avoid combining with other drugs. Caffeine might mask alcohol’s depressive effects, encouraging you to consume more alcohol than you otherwise could. You might feel more aware if you drink coffee to “sober up,” but you might also be more likely to try to drive after drinking and make a mistake. Additionally, mixing alcohol and other medications might be harmful.
  • Avoid drinking and driving. Don’t ever drink and drive. You might still have alcohol in your system, which can slow down your reaction time, even if you feel like you’ve sobered up.

Alcohol Addiction

What can I do if I’m addicted to alcohol?

It can get harder and harder to stop drinking alcohol if you struggle with alcoholism or know someone who does. This is true even when harmful side effects appear.

Although accepting help for alcoholism might be difficult, Compare Rehab UK provides a free alcohol addiction assessment with an expert at a hospital or clinic to help you learn more about your addiction and what you can do to take a step in the right direction towards recovery.

Call us on 0800 999 1083 for confidential help and to discuss treatment options.

Last Edited: September 19th, 2022
Clinically Reviewed: July 11, 2022
Clinical Reviewer


BACP accredited psychotherapist with 16 years experience working in mental health specialising in psychodynamic person-centred therapies treating those with a range of mental health disorders including anxiety, depression, OCD and Addiction.