The short term effects of alcohol are numerous; every drink affects you and you are responsible. When you drink, it is crucial that you know what type of consequences will occur and how to deal with them. However, today I’m only going to cover the short term effects- the effects that occur within an hour. These effects are obviously the most important for you in the moment. It also depends on the volume and type of alcohol you drink, but what happens is generally the same. Remember that the more you drink, the more magnified the effects, and even more dangerous.

First, I’ll cover the effects that occur in small doses- which means as high as 0.05 BAC. To put this in perspective, a BAC of 0.08 means you will get a DUI. For an average Caucasian male, about 2-3 cans of beer would get your BAC at that level. Obviously it depends on each person- your tolerance might be different.

-Slight Loss of Coordination: Complicated things like math become harder because the brain’s reaction speed slows down.

-Good feeling, happiness: You feel good and slight warmth starts to form in your body. You feel more courage, and think you’re capable of more things. This is almost why it’s so addictive- people enjoy drinking because it’s fun!

-Lightheadedness: In other words, you feel silly and almost as if you’re floating.

Now, let’s look at what happens when you’re intoxicated- or have a BAC higher than 0.05, but not as high as 0.15. This is what I would call a medium dose.

-Difficulty Speaking: You begin to slur your words and may even say things you don’t mean. Because you can’t think clearly, what you say may not make sense.

-Loss of ability to see clearly: Now this effect starts to come in once you are at this point. It’s as if you can’t focus your eyes as well as you were used to. Everything starts to get blurry and you cannot really see faces from a distance.

-Irrationality: Instead of being able to think a step ahead, you act on impulse. You just do things you would think twice about in a normal state. This is why you sometimes you do things you regret.  

-Loss of motor skills:  At this point, walking straight may become difficult and you might feel disoriented.

After you drink a lot to the point where your BAC reaches over 0.20, this is when the side effects become dangerous.

-Nauseous to the point of vomiting: You will get sick and might throw up. This is where drinking is not very fun anymore- the euphoria is replaced by this sickness.

-Blacking out: You might pass out after drinking too much and forget what happened. For those of you who don’t know what blacking out is like, it is like a mild version of amnesia. This is a sign that shows that you might be dependent on alcohol.

Possible death: Always remember that alcohol is a poison, and you are ingesting it. Too much is dangerous and death may be a consequence. Always have a person with you that keeps you in check so that you don’t drink too much.

That is about it with the short-term effects. In the long-term, there are a lot of effects like liver damage and brain damage. Drink responsibly and never when drink and drive. Even the smallest amount of alcohol can decrease your reaction time and when you’re driving fast, your car is a weapon! Be careful and be safe!

How to Change Your Drinking: a Harm Reduction Guide to Alcohol (2nd edition)
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