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How Does Alcohol Affect Your Body

People who drink are affected even before they show signs of being drunk, especially when it comes to decision-making abilities.

At first, alcohol causes people to feel upbeat and excited. But this is temporary and they shouldn’t be fooled.

If drinking continues, the effects on the body—and the potential risks—multiply. Here’s what can happen:

  • Inhibitions and memory: People may say and do things that they will regret later, or possibly not remember at all. Inhibitions are lost – leading to poor decision-making.
  • Decision-making skills: When they drink, individuals are more likely to be impulsive. They may be at greater risk for having an alcohol-related traffic crash, getting into fights, or making unwise decisions about sex.
  • Coordination and physical control: When drinking leads to loss of balance, slurred speech, and blurred vision, even normal activities can become more dangerous.
  • Death: Drinking too much alcohol can also lead to death. If people drink too much, they will eventually get sleepy and pass out. Reflexes like gagging and breathing can be suppressed. That means they could vomit and choke, or stop breathing completely.

And finally, it’s easy to misjudge how long alcohol’s effects last. Alcohol continues to affect the brain and body long after the last drink has been finished. Even after someone stops drinking, alcohol in the stomach and intestine continues to enter the bloodstream, impairing judgment and coordination for hours.


Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 

Get Help Now

If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone right now, text HOME to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for a free confidential conversation with a trained counselor 24/7. 

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, text or call 988.

If this is a medical emergency or if there is immediate danger of harm, call 911 and explain that you need support for a mental health crisis.

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