Short and Long Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

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Part of the complete guide to understanding addiction

Watching a loved one suffering from addiction can be extremely difficult for family members, and it’s all too common that they make excuses, turn a blind eye, or minimize the situation. No one wants to believe that there’s a true issue, but this denial only makes the situation worse. Alcoholism is a serious problem, and the short and long term effects of alcohol abuse can be disastrous. 

Read on to learn how a drinking problem can wreak havoc in a person’s life, and why it’s essential to identify and treat it as soon as possible.

5 Serious Short and Long Term Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Because of the grave consequences of alcohol use, if you think you or a loved one has a drinking problem it’s important not to ignore the signs and to seek help immediately. Signs of alcohol use can include blackouts, mood swings, excuses for drinking, neglecting responsibilities, lying about drinking or hiding it, and a serious change in physical appearance. If you suspect someone has a problem with alcohol use, it’s time to seek help. 

Here are five reasons why you shouldn’t overlook the signs of alcohol abuse:

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1. Physical Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholism causes numerous short and long term effects on the body.

Long Term Effects of Alcohol Use

There are numerous health risks involved with alcohol abuse, many of which can lead to death [1]

As reported by Medical News Today, the most common health risks associated with alcoholism are:


  • Liver disease
  • Brain damage
  • Pancreatitis, and
  • Seriously compromised immune system. 

Additionally, alcohol has been associated with more than 60 health conditions. Alcohol affects brain cells, your liver, stomach and kidneys, causing severe damage. If the addiction is left untreated, alcoholism can lead to death. 

When a person drinks heavily, it alters how much their body can metabolize, and alcohol builds up in the bloodstream. The heart then circulates a mix of blood and alcohol throughout your body to your organs. Through extensive research to learn which organs are affected by alcohol, it is clear  that the liver suffers the most , because that is where the body attempts to metabolize alcohol. Overall, the physical signs of an alcoholic will vary, but the health risks are serious.

Short Term Effects of Alcohol Use

The effects of drinking will vary depending on the intake amount and the level of tolerance the person has acquired.
Some short term effects of alcohol include:

  • Lethargy and fatigue
  • Injuries
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth
  • Vomiting, diarrhea and stomach upset
  • Headaches
  • Breathing difficulties 
  • Distorted vision, hearing and slurred speech
  • Impaired judgment 
  • Unconsciousness
  • Coma
  • Anemia 
  • Blackouts

2. Alcohol Makes Lives Fall Apart

Alcohol abuse not only has a major health impact, but it impacts every facet of someone’s life including the ability to hold a job and provide for their family or themselves. When someone has an addiction, their entire life becomes solely about that addiction and feeding it. This means that daily responsibilities such as a job or career, family, and other obligations fall to the wayside. While some people who abuse alcohol may have a high tolerance, they are still not fully functioning, and this often leads to job loss. 

3. Effects on Relationships

Addiction doesn’t just affect the individual. Their families and friends also suffer as they watch their loved one struggle with the disease. Addiction changes people; it changes their personality, how they communicate, and how they live. Alcohol effects on social life are unavoidable, and when an addict’s social circle dwindles as a result of their addiction, it can cause further emotional issues.

Signs of alcoholism vary from person to person, and each one may react to addiction in a different way. Some may become docile and sleep for long periods, whereas others become argumentative and engage in destructive behaviors. As a family member, watching someone you love struggle with an addiction is extremely difficult. But the longer the signs exist, the worse the disease will become, so it’s so important to try to get an alcoholic the help they desperately need.

4. Legal Consequences of Alcohol Abuse

Alcoholism can cause the individual to run the risk of developing legal issues [2]. Many addictions lead to serious criminal behavior, because substances can alter a person’s way of thinking and dealing with situations. 

Some of the most common alcohol-related offenses include:

  • Theft
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Illegal Driving
  • Property damage
  • Assault

If an individual is charged with a crime that resulted from them abusing a substance, that could further exacerbate their legal troubles. The only way to prevent these legal troubles is to seek help.

5. Alcoholism Progressively Gets Worse

Alcohol addiction is a progressive disease that only gets worse if left untreated. The effects of chronic alcohol abuse on the body are dangerous and potentially fatal. When someone continues to abuse alcohol for a long period, they are essentially poisoning their body. The medical term for untreated alcohol addiction is “alcohol poisoning” due to the level of toxic poisons that have wreaked havoc on the mind and body. When an addiction goes unchecked, it only leads down a darker path where the individual continues to consume dangerous levels while their health deteriorates.

Summary: The Short Term and Long Term Effects of Alcohol Addiction

Now that you understand the grave consequences of alcoholism, it’s important not to delay getting help if you have a drinking problem. Every day under the control of alcohol addiction will increase the damage to your body and life. Seeking help immediately can prevent serious short and long term effects of alcohol abuse, and reduce irreparable damage to you and your loved ones.

Alcoholism won’t get better over time or taper off; it needs to be dealt with by professionals who know the best way to help. Don’t put off treatment because of fear; substance abuse professionals won’t judge you and they genuinely have your best interest in mind.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about getting on the path to recovery, please contact our team today.

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