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Short-term Effects of Alcohol You Must Know About

Rashida Khilawala Oct 27, 2018
It is very common for people to resort to drinking when they have a bad day at work or when they are feeling low. They tend to overlook consequences of consuming alcohol. We give you information about the short-term effects of alcohol.
The laws governing the production and sale of alcohol differ from country to country. Likewise, the minimum age for consumption of alcohol is also different across the world.

Some alcoholic beverages like Absinthe, are banned in many countries due to its effects on the drinker.
When alcohol is consumed, a person feels lightheaded, drowsy, happy, sometimes sad, lethargic and so on, because of its psychoactive properties.

It is also classified as a depressant due to its effect on the central nervous system. Alcohol is addictive, therefore most countries have very strict rules regarding its consumption.

Short-term Effects on Vital Organs


  • Alcohol has both positive and negative effects on the heart. Taken in small doses, alcohol works like a medicine. However in larger doses, it works like a slow poison, gradually damaging the organs of the body.
  • As mentioned earlier, small doses of alcohol can be good to reduce anxiety. Consuming moderate amounts of alcohol in situations that cause you to get highly anxious and trigger increased blood pressure, can help slow down your heart rate, calm you down and normalize your blood pressure. 
  • Being a vasodilator, alcohol relaxes the blood vessels allowing more blood to flow through the skin and tissues. This results in a drop in the blood pressure.
  • As the body needs to maintain a sufficient amount of blood flow to the organs, the heart rate increases while trying to do this. Therefore, it causes the heart rate to fluctuate. 


  • The liver is responsible for filtering the blood as well as destroying and flushing out the toxins. 20% of the alcohol that we consume, gets assimilated in the blood stream, and the rest in the stomach and intestine lining.
  • The alcohol that is absorbed by the stomach is transported to the liver, where it is broken down into water, fat, and carbon dioxide. 
  • The liver needs about an hour to process a pint of alcohol. Therefore, while binge drinking, remember that the liver needs more water to break down the alcohol. During this process, water is transferred from different parts of the body to the liver, helping it to break down alcohol into acetic acid. 
  • Acetic acid, is later converted to a lesser toxic form, causing frequent urination and subsequently dehydration. The liver produces a chemical called acetaldehyde, which is the main cause of a hangover, as this substance affects the liver, stomach, and the brain. 

Nervous System

  • The brain uses a neurotransmitter called serotonin, to send messages to the different parts of the body. The serotonin level in the body increases due to alcohol consumption, and its high levels makes the body addicted to this potent drink.
  • Another neurotransmitter called glutamate, which is responsible for the muscular functions of the body, gets affected due to alcohol, reducing an individual's capacity to execute a movement. Faulty speech, memory loss, and lack of coordination are some of the symptoms that the body goes through when glutamate receptors get affected by alcohol. 
  • The body's natural control mechanism, is known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). By increasing the GABA activity in the body, alcohol causes a decrease in neuronal activity, thereby resulting in slow response. That is why, driving after the consumption of booze is not advisable. 
  • Dopamine, the neurotransmitter that controls the psychological state and bodily movements of the body, increases when alcohol is consumed, thus causing addiction.
  • Adrenaline, which is carried to the brain through the bloodstream, is produced more by adrenal glands when a person is intoxicated.
  • An endorphin 'high' is experienced when alcohol is consumed. The endorphin system is affected by alcohol which acts like a painkiller.
  • Norepinephrine is also known as noradrenalin. Alcohol consumption causes a release of this substance in the brain, thus working as a stimulant, as well as a depressant. 


  • The esophagus and stomach functions get affected due to the consumption of alcohol. Esophageal motility, gastric acid secretion, acute gastric mucosal injury, and interference with gastric and intestinal motility are some of the effects of alcohol on the stomach. 
  • Also, alcohol blocks the absorption of nutrients, which may be an underlying cause of malnourishment among heavy drinkers.
  • Beverages containing a low level of alcohol, help to stimulate the secretion of gastric acid, whereas beverages with high alcohol content do not.


  • The main functions of the kidney are keeping the body hydrated, and maintaining electrolyte and acid-base balance. Alcohol tampers with the functioning of the kidney, leaving the drinker vulnerable to various kidney problems.
  • The major disturbances caused to the kidney due to alcohol is low levels of potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, and sodium. 

Other Effects of Alcohol

  • Altered emotions
  • Increased urine production
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • More blood flow to skin surface
  • Lower core body temperature
  • Drowsy feeling
  • Blurry vision
  • Hangover/headache
  • Affected coordination and judgment
  • Dehydration
  • Passing out
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Coma
  • Possible death

Dosage and Effects

Listed here are effects of alcohol on the body, based on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and dosage of alcohol consumed :
  • Euphoria - 0.03% to 0.12%
  • Stupor - 0.25% to 0.40%
  • Lethargy - 0.09% to 0.25%
  • Confusion - 0.18% to 0.30%
  • Coma - 0.35% to 0.40%
Disclaimer: This is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.