Did you know that more than a quarter of Americans engage in binge drinking? Casual and cavalier consumption of alcohol is commonplace. And yet, for all this drinking, very few people are well versed in the short-term effects of alcohol. 

You can balance moderate consumption of alcohol with a healthy lifestyle. However, as with any substance, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re putting in your body. Understanding the effects of alcohol is part of making an informed choice about your diet and habits. 

If you’ve ever wondered what the short-term effects of alcohol are, read on. In this article, we’ll be discussing the wide range of physical and mental effects. 

Alcohol Absorption

Your body absorbs alcohol into the bloodstream almost immediately through small blood vessels in the digestive tract. Alcohol reaches your brain in about 5 minutes, and the effects are visible in about 10 minutes. 

However, it takes a little bit of time for your body to finish processing the alcohol. You might have heard the rule of thumb that your liver can process one alcoholic drink per hour. Drinking at a higher rate than that will lead to intoxication and raise your blood alcohol levels. 

The effects of alcohol depend on a few factors. The more alcohol that is consumed, and the quicker it’s consumed, the greater the effects.

Furthermore, weight and gender can also influence the effects. The lighter the individual, the quicker and more intense the effects. The effects are also usually lighter in men than in women.

In addition, drinking alongside or shortly after a meal can also result in fewer side effects. 

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol

The effects of alcohol consumption begin very mildly, with flushed skin, relaxation, and increased self-confidence. 

After further drinking, the negative effects of alcohol begin. Alcohol is a depressant which means it slows your body’s normal function. It’s also difficult to process.

Because of this, it has effects on the liver, heart, and other functions. These include: 

  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor social and critical judgment
  • Loss of concentration
  • Loss of coordination
  • Dulled perception
  • Blurred vision
  • Mood swings
  • Lower core body temperature
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Vomiting
  • Anemia
  • Blackouts

In a blackout, the drinker will suffer a memory lapse, where they won’t be able to remember what happens while they were under the influence of alcohol. A blackout is usually followed by a loss of consciousness. 

After consuming alcohol, it takes some time for the effects to wear off. Although the severe effects wear off pretty quickly, it takes up to 48 hours for alcohol to fully leave your system.  

The Stages of Intoxication

While alcohol impacts your whole body, the effects of alcohol on the brain are the most severe. These effects impact your brain’s ability to communicate with and control the body. Your brain will also have difficulty processing information. 

Intoxication occurs in several stages:

  • Subliminal intoxication
  • Euphoria
  • Excitement
  • Confusion 
  • Stupor
  • Coma
  • Death

The negative effects of alcohol consumption vary based on the stage of intoxication and blood alcohol level. 

Subliminal Intoxication (Blood Alcohol Content: 0.01-0.05)

The first stage of intoxication generally occurs after just one drink. While the immediate effects of alcohol are not yet visible, tests will reveal that behavior, judgment, and even reaction time have been impacted. 

Euphoria (Blood Alcohol Content: 0.02-0.12)

The euphoric phase is also referred to as “tipsy.” 

During the first few drinks, your brain releases dopamine. Dopamine is your “feel-good hormone,” which is why drinking is often considered a pleasurable activity. Dopamine makes you feel good, confident, and relaxed. 

It is because of these feelings that many people fall victim to alcohol use disorder. 

However, at this point judgment, reasoning, memory, and body control are impaired. 

Excitement (Blood Alcohol Content: 0.09-0.25)

After 0.08, you are considered legally intoxicated. At this point, you are certain to be given a DUI if arrested while driving. However, even one drink impacts your ability to drive. 

At this stage of intoxication, your occipital, temporal, and frontal lobes are impacted. Your vision will be blurred and your speech will be slurred.

The parietal lobe processes sensory information, and will also be impacted. This means your reaction time and motor skills will be severely impacted. Studies show that this level of intoxication results in severely higher automobile accident rates. 

Other symptoms include vomiting, nausea, and mood swings.

Confusion (Blood Alcohol Content: 0.18-0.3)

At this stage, confusion and disorientation are common. The alcohol will have impacted your cerebellum, which controls your coordination. Walking and standing will become difficult. 

The hippocampus, the memory control center of the brain, is also affected. Blackouts and loss of consciousness are common at this stage. In addition, you will experience less pain, resulting in an increased risk of injury. 

Stupor (Blood Alcohol Content: 0.25)

If your alcohol level reaches this height, you’re at risk of alcohol poisoning. All mental and physical functions are impaired. 

Loss of consciousness, vomiting, and suffocation are all very likely. Medical attention may be necessary.

Coma (Blood Alcohol Content: 0.35)

At this level, you are at risk of going into a coma. The lungs, heart, and motor function are all severely impacted. Death is also a risk. 

Medical attention is necessary and recommended.  

Death (Blood Alcohol Content: 0.45) 

When the blood alcohol level passes 0.45, death is likely due to brain failure or alcohol poisoning. At this stage, immediate medical intervention is essential. 

Be Proactive About Healthy Living Today

Remember, part of being proactive about your health is being aware of the substances you consume. You can enjoy moderate amounts of alcohol from time to time, but it’s important to evaluate the risks and short-term effects of alcohol consumption.

If you feel alcohol is negatively impacting your life or you just want to take a few steps towards a healthier life, reach out to us today! At Healthy Life, we offer many solutions to help you reach your goals. 

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