Drinking alcohol affects people differently. Depending on factors such as your ability to limit your drinking and your tolerance to alcohol, the overall short and long term effects of alcohol can have on your physical and mental health may be different to another person.
What is clear, however, is that drinking alcohol beyond the recommended guidelines can have significant short and long term effects on your body.
Alcohol abuse and an increasing consumption of alcohol can lead to alcoholism, where you depend on it in order to function. This can put you at risk of serious conditions including liver damage, which may not become apparent until later in life.
What are the Short Term Effects of Alcohol?
Even when drinking a glass or two of wine or a pint of beer, you may notice the short-term effects of alcohol. Along with reduced tension and lowered inhibitions, you may have a problem concentrating while your reflexes and reaction time may slow down.
When drinking a high amount of alcohol over a short space of time, this can stimulate a series of unwanted short-term side effects.
Short term effects of alcohol are:
- Slurred speech
- Poor vision
- Fluctuating emotions
- Passing out
- Alcohol poisoning
- Alcohol induced psychosis
Dehydration from intoxication can also leave you with headaches and nausea the next day.
These short-term effects can be heightened when consuming alcohol alongside mind-altering drugs. It is best to check with your GP that you are safe to consume alcohol when taking medication for pain or treatment of mental health conditions.
Depending on how much alcohol has been consumed, the type of test used and some biological factors about the person drinking the alcohol, the amount of time alcohol can be detected in your system can vary.
But here are some typical results:
- Blood test – up to 6 hours after your last alcoholic drink
- Urine test – approximately 12-14 hours after alcohol was last consumed
- Breath test - approximately 12-14 hours after alcohol was last consumed
- Saliva test - approximately 12-14 hours after alcohol was last consumed
- Hair test – up to 90 after last consuming alcohol
What are the Effects of Long Term Alcohol use?
The longer term impact of excessive alcohol intake can be worrying, especially if you don’t take note of warning signs from your body.
Drinking a large amount over a long period can cause you to develop a higher tolerance to alcohol, where you no longer experience the short-term side effects that you might have otherwise.
Addiction and alcoholism can cause long-term effects on your mental and physical capacities, including:
- Liver damage
- Immune system problems
- High blood pressure
- Nerve damage
- Permanent brain damage
The long-term effects of excessive consumption aren’t limited solely to your body.
Entire family units and friendship groups can be affected by a person’s alcoholism. Someone with an alcohol addiction will also find it increasingly difficult to get or keep a job, which can lead to periods of unemployment.
What can I do if I’m addicted to alcohol?
If you are struggling with alcohol abuse, or know someone who is, it can become increasingly difficult to stop drinking, even when serious side effects arise.
While it can be hard to accept support for alcohol addiction, Priory offers a free alcohol addiction assessment with an experienced specialist at a Priory hospital or clinic to help you understand more about your addiction and what can be done to take a positive step towards recovery.