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Short Term Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol abuse over a long period of time can cause alcoholism, health issues, and can, eventually, kill someone. However, the short term effects of alcohol can be problematic too. Consider even the short term effects of alcohol before abusing it.

The Slowing Down of Brain Activity

Alcohol use slows down the activity in the brain and, because the brain controls other functions in the body, everything else as well. According to the California courts’ website, those who are drunk on alcohol can experience “poor concentration, slow reaction time, and slower brain activity.” It can make a person’s “sensations and perceptions… less clear” and reduce their ability to coordinate their movements. Alcohol can make it hard to do something you normally do and can even make it dangerous. Things that drinking alcohol makes much more difficult can include:

  • Driving a car
  • Riding a bike
  • Thinking
  • Using good judgement

Because alcohol slows down the activity in the brain, everything else slows down too, making your reaction times slower and your ability to do certain things (like driving) compromised. People can get into accidents and become hurt after only one drink, depending on their tolerance level. The NIAAA states that, “even moderate drinking leads to short-term impairment, as shown by the extensive research on the impact of drinking on driving.”

Alcohol Poisoning

alcohol abuse

Alcohol causes confusion, and often leads to accidents.

A person can experience alcohol overdose, even if they have only been abusing the substance in the short term. Someone who drinks too much at one party can overdose on alcohol and die. “Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels” can occur even in short term use (CDC). The symptoms of alcohol poisoning are:

  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow or irregular breathing
  • Confusion
  • Coma
  • Stupor
  • Low body temperature that results in a blue tint to the skin
  • Paleness

Other Short Term Effects of Alcohol

There are actually many other short term effects caused by alcohol use. Many people, especially teens, who drink alcohol for the first time do not know how much to drink and can sometimes become very intoxicated. This can lead to many consequences caused by the slowing of brain activity mentioned above. Other short term effects of alcohol are:

  • Increased production of urine and, in high doses, “uncontrolled urination” and defecation (California courts)
  • Unconsciousness or passing out
    • This can be especially dangerous as someone can vomit and choke to death in this state. This is often the result of alcohol poisoning and the way it causes death.
  • Sleepiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Vision problems, blurry vision
  • “More blood flow to skin surface”
  • “Blackouts and memory lapses”
    • “Blackouts are much more common among social drinkers than previously assumed,” according to the NIAAA, and should be regarded as a potential effect of short term alcohol abuse.
  • “Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex” (CDC)
  • Miscarriage, stillbirth, or fetal alcohol syndrome when pregnant women drink alcohol

The short term effects of alcohol can sometimes be just as devastating as the long term effects. Make sure you know these consequences and that you remember the dangers of short term alcohol use.


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