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Articles » Society » Short Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Short Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body

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By StraightDUI Staff on 5/26/2008

People, who drink often, generally do so to feel different. They think it will relax them and allow them to have a better time during a party or an event. They also drink so they can laugh and have fun. It appears that alcohol serves to release inhibitions, but in truth, alcohol is classified as a sedative. It achieves a depressant effect on the functioning of the body and therefore the more alcohol a person consumes, the stronger the depressant result! Alcohol also has a psychological impact. After one or two drinks, a person who is generally quiet may become more outgoing and chattier. In addition, the heart speeds up and a person feels more sociable, which comes about as a result of the blood making small blood vessels in the skin expand. When this occurs it allows more blood to flow closer to the surface, which lowers blood pressure. Of course, the age of a person, the gender, as well as the overall health and state of mind of the person drinking can also impact on the way a person feels when drinking. But, alcohol actually acts somewhat like an anesthetic on the brain. In fact, one of the first types of anesthetics ever used was ether, which is based on alcohol. Naturally, the greater the intake of alcohol, the more the brain slows down.

When the Body Can’t Effectively Metabolize The Alcohol

As a person starts drinking, they will experience feelings of sociability and euphoria. Some people usually feel an increase in self-confidence and some report that alcohol removes feelings of tension or stress. However, since alcohol is actually a depressant, if a person is feeling lonely or depressed when they start to drink, it can cause even greater feelings of depression. After a few more drinks, the ability to make decisions slows down. If too much alcohol is taken in and the body cannot efficiently metabolize the content, the amount of alcohol in the blood stream (BAC) becomes elevated. Usually this happens with only one drink per hour. The Blood Alcohol Count (BAC) is used to determine the effects of alcohol on the body. Naturally, the higher the BAC, the more pronounced the effects. Anyone with a BAC of 0.10 is considered intoxicated, but even lower doses of alcohol can and do affect bodily functions.

Alcohol Causes Emotions to Become Exaggerated

It’s not uncommon to see a person who has been drinking start to cry because emotions become exaggerated. And while one initially feels less inhibited, the effect of alcohol is a result of the alcohol on nerve cells in the brain's cortex, the area responsible for reasoning, speech, and abstract thinking. Any interference with the nerve cells may lead to behaviors that are unlike the type of behavior generally displayed by the person, such as different sexual behavior or possibly even violence or aggression. It’s very clear that when inhibitions diminish there is usually impaired reasoning and potentially unpredictable acts can occur. There have been reports where the drinking of alcohol set off acts of robbery, rape, assault and murder. Conversely, drinking alcohol puts one at risk of becoming a victim of a crime. The reason? Because when judgment is impaired, a person may find that they put themselves in dangerous or vulnerable situations.

Alcohol & Injury

People who drink regularly can develop a tolerance to alcohol, which means more alcohol can be consumed without the person seeming to suffer the same results as someone who doesn’t drink very often. But, having a tolerance to alcohol does not protect a person from harm to the body. Having a high tolerance to alcohol indicates that a person is drinking far too much, which translates to the potential for more damage to the health and the body. With a very heavy bout of drinking, there is a greater risk of having a stroke or heart attack. It is also possible to drink so much alcohol that a person can fall into a coma and stop breathing. In fact, using alcohol is highly correlated with injury. It has been reported that many drownings, fire injuries and choking are connected to those who are drinking. And those who operate motorcycles, boats, cars and other types of equipment incur a much larger number of fatalities.

Other Short Term Effects of Alcohol on the Body

Overall, alcohol use impairs the functioning of the immune system as it weakens the body’s ability to fight off disease. One of the short-term effects of a weakened immune system is an increase in the number of colds a person experiences. And because it blocks the absorption of essential nutrients, alcohol consumption contributes to malnutrition. In addition, heavy drinking can affect a person’s physical appearance. For example, because alcohol is high in calories, a person can gain excess weight. In addition, because alcohol has a tendency to dehydrate the body, a person who drinks will have dry skin and broken veins.

The Overall Short Term Effects of Alcohol

So, while the result of a few drinks once in a while, won’t impact heavily on a person’s health, if they continue drinking heavily, the results to the body and health can be irreversible. If you or someone you know falls under any of these categories, it might be a good idea to take steps that can turn around the effect alcohol has on the health of the body.

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