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Alcohol Abuse and the Effects of Drunkenness

The more you drink, the stronger the effects of alcohol on your body. This is because alcohol goes into the bloodstream and affects your brain and body functions. Sometimes alcohol can cause serious damage.

Navigation: Why Do People Drink Alcohol?, How Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Drunkenness?, What are the Effects of Drunkenness?, What are the Stages of Alcohol Intoxication?, How is Alcohol Use Disorder Treated?, Rehab is Your Best Chance


It’s no secret that people like to drink. According to a national survey in 2015, over 86% of people ages 18 and above said that they have had alcohol at some point in their lifetime. A total of 56% said they consumed alcohol in the past month.

We’re all familiar with the effects of alcohol: perhaps you’ve seen a friend or family member get drunk. Maybe you’ve experienced it yourself. Drinking excessively can make you drunk, which causes loss of balance, drowsiness, slowed breathing, slowed heart rate, slow judgment, vision problems, and lack of coordination.

The more you drink, the stronger the effects of alcohol on your body. This is because alcohol goes into the bloodstream and affects your brain and body functions. Sometimes alcohol can cause serious damage. It can potentially cause dehydration, injuries, vomiting, seizures, coma, and even death.

Despite the risks, people drink anyway because it’s fun and it’s a way for them to socialize. Getting to know all the effects of alcohol can help you avoid alcohol abuse or guide a loved one who is struggling with alcohol addiction. Let’s take a closer look.


Why Do People Drink Alcohol?


People rarely think of drinking alcohol as substance abuse. In fact, alcohol is the most commonly used substance in the world. It is widely celebrated in many different cultures. Binge drinking and excessive alcohol use are associated with parties, raves, and other social events. It goes without saying that drinking occasionally is socially acceptable.

There’s a reason behind the popularity of alcohol. When you drink it, you become less inhibited and more confident. Some people drink just to feel more confident, which helps them in social situations where they otherwise may feel insecure.

Alcohol is the perfect “social lubricant” because it helps people relax and enjoy themselves. Drinking is often associated with social gatherings and parties, and people drink to bond with others, to have fun, and to make new friends.

People often drink to unwind and forget their worries. Alcohol is seen as a way to release stress and relax. This has become a part of cultural tradition. Alcohol plays a role in many celebrations, often as a way to mark milestones and special events.

Other people drink alcoholic beverages to help them cope with negative emotions and mental health issues like sadness, anxiety, or depression.

It’s important to remember that alcohol consumption should be done in moderation and not as a coping mechanism for negative emotions. Excessive drinking can lead to serious health problems, addiction, alcohol dependence, and other negative consequences.


How Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Drunkenness?

Intoxication is caused by the consumption of a substance that affects the central nervous system. This can be due to the presence of drugs, alcohol, or other toxins in the body. The level and effects of intoxication depend on the dose and type of substance consumed, as well as the individual’s tolerance and personal characteristics.

If we’re talking about alcohol specifically, people get drunk because they consume more alcohol than their body can handle. This leads to a decrease in cognitive function, balance, and motor skills, which is why many people feel dizzy, unsteady, and have slurred speech when they are drunk.

Additionally, alcohol also releases endorphins in the brain, which can cause feelings of euphoria and happiness. People may drink to cope with stress, boredom, or social anxiety, or simply because they enjoy the feeling of being inebriated.

The main reason alcohol is intoxicating is because of ethanol. Also known as ethyl alcohol or grain alcohol, this is the main player in alcoholic drinks that causes drunkenness. This clear, colorless liquid has stimulating effects on the brain despite being mainly a depressant.

The moment it enters your mouth, it starts producing effects. However, these effects become more pronounced as the alcohol goes through your body.

What are the Effects of Drunkenness?

There are plenty of ways to tell if someone is drunk. Mainly, they will exhibit symptoms like slurred speech, loss of balance, impaired coordination, bloodshot eyes, nausea, and vomiting.

Drunk individuals often have trouble speaking clearly and their words may be slurred or slushy. This is because alcohol affects the muscles used for speech, leading to slurred speech and difficulty communicating.

Alcohol also affects the inner ear, which controls balance, and can cause a person to sway or feel unsteady. Drunkenness affects balance and coordination, leading to unsteadiness and clumsiness. Drunk people may stagger, trip, or have trouble walking in a straight line.

This loss of coordination will lead to unsteady gait and decreased hand-eye coordination. This makes activities like driving or operating machinery extremely hazardous. Alcohol affects reaction time, so a drunk person may have trouble responding quickly to stimuli. On top of this, alcohol can also cause drowsiness and fatigue, making it difficult to remain alert and focused.

Driving while under the influence of alcohol is dangerous because it increases the risk of vehicular accidents, falls, and drowning.

The person will also appear to have glassy or bloodshot eyes. Loved ones should also watch out for other obvious signs of alcohol abuse like the smell of alcohol. A strong odor of alcohol on a person’s breath or clothing can be an indicator of drunkenness.

Speaking of loved ones, they are usually the first ones to notice changes in the person’s behavior. Drunk people may become more talkative, emotional, or aggressive than usual. Alcohol can reduce inhibitions, leading to behavior that is out of character and potentially dangerous.

Drunk individuals are more likely to make poor decisions or engage in risky behavior. They may engage in risky behaviors like unprotected sex, which can lead to sexually transmitted infections or unintended pregnancy.

Alcohol even affects the ability to form and recall memories, leading to blackouts and loss of memories.

Being drunk doesn’t just change the person’s behavior; it can also cause lasting health issues and other problems. For example, chronic alcohol use can lead to liver disease, heart disease, and cancer. There is also the risk of alcohol poisoning. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can cause seizures, breathing difficulties, and even death.

Getting drunk on a regular basis can lead to even bigger problems, especially alcohol addiction and dependence. These medical conditions can have long-term consequences for a person’s health, relationships, and overall well-being.

Finally, excessive alcohol consumption can also put a strain on a person’s relationships. It doesn’t just affect them on an individual level, it also affects the people around them.

It is important to remember that every person responds to alcohol differently, and these signs may vary in intensity based on the individual and the amount of alcohol consumed.

What are the Stages of Alcohol Intoxication?

Alcohol affects everyone differently. The speed at which a person gets drunk is influenced by factors like their age, sex, drinking history, body size, amount of food eaten, and whether or not they are also taking other drugs. For example, people who only drink occasionally may have a much lower alcohol tolerance compared to someone who drinks regularly.

That said, there are several stages of alcohol intoxication. The first is sobriety or low-level intoxication. They have a blood alcohol content or BAC of 0.01 to 0.05%. They have consumed one or fewer drinks in an hour.

The next stage is euphoria, which usually happens after two to three drinks for men and one to two drinks for women. This is when people get tipsy, chatty, or confident. With a blood alcohol concentration of 0.03 to 0.12%, people may start to enjoy lowered inhibitions. If a person drives over the legal BAC limit of 0.08%, they can be arrested in the US.

After this stage, the person enters the state of being drunk. They may become emotionally unstable or overly excited during this stage.  This is the stage where people typically lose their coordination and have blurry vision. They have a BAC of 0.09 to 0.25%.

When their BAC reaches 0.18 to 0.30%, the person becomes confused and prone to emotional outbursts, they might find it hard to stay upright. They may even fade in and out of consciousness during this stage. 

Eventually, the person no longer has any idea what is going on around them. It will become difficult to stand or walk. A lot of people pass out once they hit a BAC of 0.25 to 0.4%. If the person is unable to breathe normally, they need immediate medical attention.

An even higher BAC may lead to coma or even death from alcohol intoxication. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use causes around 88,000 deaths in the US every year.

So while drinking is fun on occasion, you still have to be mindful of its potential dangers.

How is Alcohol Use Disorder Treated?

Alcohol use disorder, also known as alcoholism, is a chronic and potentially progressive illness characterized by a strong and persistent desire to drink alcohol despite the harmful consequences. It is a pattern of excessive drinking that interferes with daily life, including work, social, and personal relationships.

People with alcohol use disorder experience a range of symptoms such as cravings, loss of control, tolerance, withdrawal, and continued use despite negative consequences. The disorder is diagnosed based on criteria established by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Rehab facilities may differ in their approach when it comes to treating alcohol use disorder, but these are some of the most commonly used strategies:

Medical detoxification: This is a medical process that helps individuals safely withdraw from alcohol in a controlled environment.

Rehabilitation: Inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation programs are designed to provide comprehensive care, including therapy, medication, and support groups.

Psychotherapy: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Motivational Enhancement Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Family Behavioral Therapy are some of the common types of psychotherapy used to treat Alcohol Use Disorder.

Medications: Naltrexone, Acamprosate, and Disulfiram are some of the FDA-approved medications used to treat Alcohol Use Disorder.

Support groups: Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is a well-known support group that uses a 12-step program to help individuals overcome their addiction.

It’s important to note that treatment for alcohol use disorder varies from person to person, and what works for one person may not work for another. A combination of different treatments may be recommended, depending on the severity of the disorder and the individual’s needs.

Your addiction treatment provider will give you a personalized treatment plan based on your specific needs and condition.

Look for an addiction treatment center near you today. Some facilities specialize in treating alcohol use disorder and alcohol dependence. Get started on your road to long-lasting sobriety today.


Rehab is Your Best Chance

Treatment is an addicted individualʼs best option if they want to recover. Beating an addiction not only requires eliminating the physical dependence, but also addressing the behavioral factors that prevent them from wanting to get better. Simply quitting may not change the psychological aspect of addiction. Some people quit for a while, and then take drugs or alcohol again, only to overdose because they did not detox properly. Recovery involves changing the way the patient feels, thinks, and behaves.

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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