Like all drugs, consuming alcohol – on a single occasion or over time – can significantly affect your physical health, mental health, and quality of life. Alcohol consumption is associated with a variety of both short-term and long-term effects on the human body.
Short-term effects that you may experience while drinking alcohol can include:
- Slow reaction time or slurred speech
- Feelings of relaxation or drowsiness
- Feelings of euphoria or giddiness
- Loss of coordination or dizziness
- Head pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- Changes in hearing, vision, and perception
- Trouble focusing or making decisions
- Loss of consciousness or gaps in memory
These effects might not last very long, but can cause dangerous situations including motor vehicle crashes, physical violence, injuries, drownings, risky sexual behaviors, and other negative health outcomes. When alcohol consumption is excessive over long periods of time, it takes a severe toll takes on your body. These long-term effects increase your chances of brain defects, liver disease, heart problems, diabetes complications, and increased cancer risks. Other long-term effects can include:
- Insomnia and other sleep concerns
- Changes in libido and sexual function
- Persistent changes in mood, including anxiety and irritability
- Problems with memory or concentration
- Changes in appetite and weight
- Increased tension and conflict in romantic and family relationships
- Depression or thoughts of suicide
The best way to maintain a healthy relationship with alcohol is to avoid using alcohol completely. However, if you choose to drink alcohol, there are several ways to decrease your risk for alcohol-related damage to your physical and mental health.
- Drink in moderation. Moderation means up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men by adults of legal drinking age.
- Do not drive if you plan to drink.
- Sip slow and pace between drinks to avoid binge or heavy drinking.
- Drink water in between alcoholic drinks to ensure hydration.
- Do not use alcohol if you are under the age of 21.
- Do not use alcohol if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
For additional resources and information about alcohol use and your health, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Your Employee Assistance Program is Here to Support
DHS cares about your health and has resources in place to help. Your Component Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a great place to start if you are concerned about your drinking habits or the drinking habits of someone you care about. For more information, contact your Component EAP specialist or reach out to the DHS Worklife Specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org.