The long and short term effects of alcohol are significant. They can affect people differently depending on various factors such as age, gender, and weight. Long-term drinking habits can lead to life-threatening, physical health issues. Short-term effects generally occur during a night of drinking either moderately or heavily. The choices made while under the influence don’t only affect the user’s body; they can also cause issues with the law, employment/school, and relationships. 

For more information about alcohol, click here for the overview.

Short-Term Effects Of Alcohol

  • Slurred speech
  • Slowed reaction times and reflexes, poor motor coordination, blurred vision.
  • Lowered inhibitions, increased risk factor, lowered reasoning ability, impaired judgment. This may cause users to engage in criminal acts or behave in ways they never would while sober. The intoxicated person is at risk of either running into problems with the law, or becoming a victim of assault. 
  • Slow heart rate, breathing rate, reduced blood pressure
  • Heavy sweating, dehydration
  • Coma
  • Death: this can either be through respiratory arrest or asphyxiation caused by choking on vomit. 

How can you get sober? Here is one article to help get you on the right path.

Long-Term Effects Of Alcohol

Heavy drinking can cause permanent damage to the user’s body and brain. Depending on the drinker’s age, gender, and duration/extent of the abuse, these physical damages may include:

  • Liver cancer, liver damage, and fatty liver
  • Cirrhosis: heavy scarring around the liver. This prevents blood flow and is usually fatal.
  • Alcoholic hepatitis: swelling of liver cells which usually causes blockage. This can be fatal.
  • Heart damage, high blood pressure, enlarged heart
  • Coronary disease: the narrowing of arteries which can lead to heart attack and death
  • Irregular heartbeat: Can lead to heart attack and death
  • Decreased blood flow to the arms and legs
  • Stroke: Blocked blood flow to the brain
  • Brain damage, destruction of brain cells, brain deterioration, atrophy
  • Mental disorders: increased aggression, antisocial behavior, depression, anxiety
  • Osteoporosis: Severe back pain, spine deformity, increased risk of fractures
  • Pancreas damage
  • Pancreatitis – inflammation of the pancreas, causing abdominal pain, weight loss, and sometimes death
  • Cancer
  • Alcoholism increases a person’s chances of developing a variety of cancers of the pancreas, liver, breasts, colon, rectum, mouth, pharynx, and esophagus.
  • Sexual problems:
    • Reduced sperm count and mobility, as well as sperm abnormality
    • Menstrual difficulties, irregular/absent cycles, and decreased fertility; early menopause
  • Drinking during pregnancy can cause permanent, severe damage, by putting the child at risk for Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
    • Birth defects

Other Alcohol-Related Problems

  • Premature aging (skin and brain)
  • Heartburn, nausea, gastritis, ulcers
  • Poor digestion and inflamed intestines
  • Malnutrition 
  • Water retention
  • Weakened vision
  • Skin disorders 
  • Korsakoff’s Syndrome: amnesia and delirium after long-term alcohol abuse

To learn more about the 12 signs of problematic drinking, click here.

Information Courtesy The University of Maryland. If you need help with alcohol or someone who is using check out Recovery Guidance for a free and safe resource to find professional help near you.


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