|Alcohol depresses the central nervous system, which is the center of our thoughts, feelings, and senses, and is responsible for coordinating all movement and body processes. In the early stage of drinking, this creates a relaxed feeling and impression of increased confidence. Continued drinking can affect the ability to make rational decisions and, as consumption increases, will slow down breathing and even cause loss of consciousness. The effect of alcohol on the body is affected by factors including weight, body fat, and history of alcohol intake. What may be a safe level for one person may have serious effects for another.
EFFECTS ON HIGH INTAKE
There are four key risks following a high alcohol intake:
- Injury, as a result poor decision-making and clumsiness.
- Vomiting, leading to choking in an unconscious person.
- Hypothermia—caused by alcohol dilating the blood vessels, making exposure to the cold a greater risk.
- Slow breathing and, ultimately breathing stopping.
Be prepared to resuscitate if necessary. If the victim becomes unconscious, place in the recovery position.
- Monitor and maintain the person’s airway and breathing. Be prepared to resuscitate the person if necessary.
- If the person becomes unconscious, place into the recovery position. The person is extremely likely to vomit, so watch carefully for signs of vomit and remove from the mouth as needed.
- If the person is conscious, help into a comfortable position and encourage him or her to keep still.
- Check for additional injury and give treatment as appropriate.
- Protect from extremes of cold to reduce the risk of hypothermia developing. If the person is unconscious, you suspect further injury, you are worried that the other substances may have been consumed, or you have any other doubts as to their condition, call 911. Do not underestimate the risk of alcohol poisoning.
If you do not feel that an ambulance is necessary, ensure that the person is not left alone, that the airway and breathing are regularly checked, and that the victim is in a safe, warm place until he is better.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
- What has happened. Consider this carefully—a person who has suffered a head injury or stroke may show similar signs and symptoms to somebody who is drunk
- Strong smell of alcohol
- Lapsing in and out of consciousness.
Reusable at first but eventually slipping into full unconsciousness
- Red, sweating face
- Deep, noisy breathing—sounds of snoring
- Strong, fast pulse
Eventually, breathing may become shallower and the pulse weaker and faster.
LONG-TERM EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL
Drinking alcohol within safe limits may be beneficial for health, helping to protect against stroke and heart disease, but if you have more than a couple of alcoholic drinks a day, there are more risks than benefits.
Damage to the liver and other organs; digestive problems such as ulcers.
- Weight gain: alcohol contains many calories and regular drinkers often put on weight.
- Reduced intellectual function: brain cells that control memory and learning are damaged by alcohol. Alcohol is damaging to mental health, causing increased anxiety and depression.
- Increase risk of developing many types of cancer (the risk is even higher if you smoke as well).
- Increased risk of circulatory disorders such as high blood pressure and stroke.
- Reduced fertility in both men and women and damage to the fetus if you drink heavily during pregnancy.