Alcohol abuse is a pattern of problem drinking that results in health consequences, social, problems, or both. However, alcohol dependence, or alcoholism, refers to a disease that is characterized by abnormal alcohol-seeking behavior that leads to impaired control over drinking.

Short-Term Effects

Short-term effects of alcohol use include:

  • Altered perceptions and emotions
  • Bad breath; hangovers
  • Impaired judgment
  • Distorted vision, hearing, and coordination

Long-Term Effects

Long-term effects of heavy alcohol use include:

  • Heart and central nervous system damage
  • Liver damage
  • Loss of appetite
  • Memory loss
  • Sexual impotence
  • Skin problems
  • Stomach ailments
  • Vitamin deficiencies

How Do I Know If I, or Someone Close, Has a Drinking Problem?

Here are some quick clues:

  • Inability to control drinking-it seems that regardless of what you decide beforehand, you frequently wind up drunk
  • Using alcohol to escape problems
  • A change in personality-turning from Dr. Jekyl to Mr. Hyde
  • A high tolerance level-drinking just about everybody under the table
  • Blackouts-sometimes not remembering what happened while drinking
  • Problems at work or in school as a result of drinking
  • Concern shown by family and friends about drinking

Alcohol Effects

Blood Alcohol Levels

  • Euphoria (BAC = 0.03 to 0.12%)
    • They become more self confident
    • Shortened attention span
    • They may look flushed
    • Judgment is impaired
  • Excitement (BAC = 0.9 to 0.25%)
    • Sleepy
    • Trouble understanding or remembering
    • Body movements are uncoordinated
  • Confusion (BAC = 0.18 to 0.30 %)
    • They are dizzy and may stagger
    • Highly emotional-aggressive, withdrawn or overly affectionate
    • Sleepy
    • Slurred speech
  • Stupor ( BAC = 0.25 to 0.4%)
    • They can barely move at all
    • They cannot respond to stimuli
    • They cannot walk or stand
    • They may vomit
    • They may lapses in and out of consciousness
  • Coma (BAC = 0.35 to 0.50)
    • They are unconscious
    • Their breathing is slower and more shallow
    • Their heart rate may slow
    • They may die