The effects of alcohol

Alcohol has both short-term and long term physical, psychological and behavioural effects. Most of us view alcohol as a stimulant – it makes us feel cheerful and relaxed. It is, however, a central nervous system depressant and over time it has different effects on us.

How is the amount of alcohol you have consumed measured?

When you drink alcohol it is absorbed by your stomach, enters the bloodstream and goes to all the tissues. To test how much alcohol is in your blood stream the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is measured. The BAC is a measure of how much alcohol there is in your blood. A BAC of 0.05 means that in every 100ml of blood there is 0.05 grams of alcohol. In Australia it is illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.05 or higher. By law, probationary drivers and motorcyclists in their first year of riding must maintain a zero BAC while on the road. Drivers of heavy trucks, buses, trains and trams must also maintain a zero BAC level while on the road in most of Australia.[1]

There are basically two ways of measuring blood alcohol concentration. The first alcohol test involves taking a blood sample and doing a laboratory test to determine the BAC. The second test is to use a breathalyser, which is most suitable for the workplace and private use. CMM Technology™ supply a wide variety of alcohol testing products. These range from disposable saliva and breath alcohol testers, through to state-of-the-art digital handheld breathalysers. You can contact CMM Technology on (08) 9204 2500 for an obligation free quote.[2]

The short term effects of alcohol

The effects of alcohol, whether long term or short term, depend on the amount of alcohol consumed. With a BAC between 0.03% (within the legal driving limit) and 0.12% the effects include:

  • Overall improvement in mood and possible euphoria
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Increased sociability
  • Shortened attention span
  • Flushed appearance
  • Inhibited judgment
  • Impaired fine muscle coordination[3]

The effects of higher blood alcohol concentrations range from lethargy to confusion to coma – depending on the BAC.

The long term effects of alcohol

Drinking alcohol excessively over a long period of time is extremely dangerous. “Each year approximately 3000 people die as a result of excessive alcohol consumption and around 101 000 people are hospitalised”.[4]

The long terms effects of alcohol include

  • Damage to the heart
  • High blood pressure which can lead to strokes
  • Cancer of the colon
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Damage to the liver
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sexual impotence
  • Reduced fertility
  • Brain damage involving mood and personality changes

The problems listed above would be the most obvious effects of excessive alcohol consumption. The impact on your relationships and social life are enormous, you are at high risk of losing your job and you may clash with the law. Problems with the law include drunken driving, being drunk and disorderly and fighting.

Although the policy appear loathe to prosecute for drunk and disorderly behaviour unless there is violence involved, on the ABC News website dated 01 March 2011 it is stated that “On-the-spot fines for drunk and disorderly behaviour will increase under proposed changes to the state’s liquor licensing laws.“[5]


This article has concentrated on the health and physical problems related to alcohol, but alcohol also impacts negatively on relationships, finances and work, and may result in legal problems.

Despite alcohol being a legal and socially acceptable drug, a large number of drinkers do drink excessively from time to time. We should all be aware of both the short term and long term effects of excessive alcohol consumption.


Acohol and Its Effects. (2010, December 10). Retrieved March 17, 2011, from Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia:

Drug & Alcohol Testing -> Alcohol Testing. (2010). Retrieved March 16, 2011, from CMM Technology:

Drunk and Disorderly Fines Set to Increase. (2011, March 01). Retrieved March 18, 2011, from ABC News:

NCARD Fact Sheet. (Undated). Retrieved March 16, 2011, from National Alcohol and Drug Research Centre, University of New South Wales:$file/ALCOHOL+AND+DRIVING.pdf

Short-term effects of alcohol. (2011, March 16). Retrieved March 16, 2011, from Wikipedia:

[1] (NCARD Fact Sheet, Undated)

[2] (Drug & Alcohol Testing -> Alcohol Testing, 2010)

[3] (Short-term effects of alcohol, 2011)

[4] (Acohol and Its Effects, 2010)

[5] (Drunk and Disorderly Fines Set to Increase, 2011) (Drunk and Disorderly Fines Set to Increase, 2011)

Source by CMM Technology