Alcohol Symptoms, Signs & Side Effects

Alcohol abuse and addiction are unfortunately all-too-common among people of all ages and from all backgrounds in Colorado and throughout the nation. There are an estimated 18 million adults in the U.S. with alcohol use disorder, which is defined as a drinking problem that causes harm and distress. Alcohol use disorder includes alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

Alcohol Addiction Symptoms

Whether you’re someone in Colorado such as in Boulder, Denver or Colorado Springs, or someone elsewhere in the nation or the world, you may be wondering what the side effects of alcohol and side effects of alcohol abuse are because maybe you feel you have a problem or someone you love does.

With alcohol abuse, some of the signs include consuming alcohol to the point where it interferes with other responsibilities in your life. This can include school or work, and it can include not just the times when you’re actually drinking, but also interruption to your life because you feel sick or hungover as the result of drinking.

Other side effects of alcohol abuse include drinking even when you know you’re going to be doing something where it could become dangerous, such as driving or boating, and having accidents or injuries after you drink.

Other important side effects of alcohol abuse and signs of alcohol abuse include:

  • Having memory loss or blacking out while drinking
  • Drinking even when you have a physical condition that could be made worse as the result of drinking
  • Decreased involvement or lack of interest in activities in one’s life such as school, your career or extracurricular activities
  • Lack of interest in relationships with friends and family
  • Being preoccupied with thoughts of drinking, such as looking forward to the next time you will drink
  • The feeling that your drinking is out of your control
  • Violent, erratic or dangerous behaviors can also be signs of alcohol abuse or symptoms of alcoholism

So, what about the physical side effects of alcohol use and alcohol side effects on the human body?

The short-term side effects of alcohol use can include nausea, vomiting, slurred speech and headaches, both while drinking and after drinking.

Alcohol Abuse: Symptoms, Signs, & Side Effects

Alcohol Poisoning in Colorado

Another condition that can occur with alcohol abuse, or even if someone doesn’t have an alcohol use disorder is alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning occurs because of the ethyl alcohol found in beverages that can result in poisoning when too much is consumed over a short period. It’s a type of toxic poisoning, and one of the primary culprits of alcohol poisoning in binge drinking. Binge drinking is heavy drinking that includes five or more drinks consumed within a two-hour period for men, and four or more drinks within two hours for a female. In some cases, alcohol poisoning can lead to unconsciousness and can be fatal.

Alcohol poisoning occurs because alcohol is absorbed quickly by your body, and then it takes a long time for it to be removed or metabolized by your liver. The more you drink, particularly in a short period, the higher the risk for alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol poisoning commonly occurs in young people and college students, so in Colorado, it may be an area of focus in cities like Boulder and Denver, but it can occur in anyone of any age.

Some of the risk factors that can lead to the side effects of alcohol poisoning include size and weight, your health, whether you’ve eaten recently, the percentage of alcohol in the drinks you’re consuming and your tolerance level for alcohol.

Side effects of alcohol poisoning can include:

  • Confusion
  • Vomiting
  • Slow breathing
  • Irregular breathing
  • Pale or blue-tinted skin
  • Low body temperature
  • Passing out
  • Seizures

If you recognize the signs of alcohol poisoning or the side effects of alcohol poisoning, it’s important to contact an emergency services provider immediately.

Long-Term Alcohol Addiction Signs

While discussing alcoholism and alcohol abuse in Colorado is often focused on the short-term effects of alcohol abuse, alcoholism and things like binge drinking, there’s something else to consider as well, which are the long-term side effects of alcohol abuse.

When you abuse alcohol, it puts you at risk for developing alcoholism, which is long-term, chronic alcohol abuse.

As alcohol abuse progresses, some of the alcohol addiction signs start to include:

  • A lack of control over how much or often drinking is occurring
  • The building of tolerance, meaning more alcohol is needed to get the same effects
  • The person may stop other activities altogether to drink more
  • A lot of time is dedicated to drinking and/or recovering from drinking
  • Despite harm done to relationships, careers and other areas of a person’s life they keep drinking
  • The person begins drinking early in the day, is frequently drunk, or drinks alone
  • One of the big signs of alcoholism is attempts made to conceal, lie about or make excuses for drinking
  • Signs of alcohol dependence include the appearance of withdrawal symptoms if someone tries to stop drinking suddenly
  • Signs you’re an alcoholic can also include trying to quit drinking and being unsuccessful, or having alcohol as a focal point in your life

In addition to considering the signs of alcohol dependence and signs you’re an alcoholic, there are other long-term effects that can occur when you abuse alcohol.

Long-term abuse of alcohol can lead to brain disorders, cirrhosis, pancreatitis, and the general decline of your physical health.

So what should you do if you recognize the signs you’re an alcoholic, or you see someone you love has the symptoms of alcoholism?

A professional treatment center is essential, because it’s a difficult addiction to treat, and the withdrawal process from alcohol can be deadly if not done in a medical environment. Alcoholism is one of the most treated addictions in not only Colorado, but also the U.S., but you have to be willing to see the signs of alcoholism and get treatment. There are Colorado treatment options for people in Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs and statewide, and also national resources available.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.