The Impacts of Alcohol

Responsible Service of AlcoholThere are short and long-term impacts on both the consumer and the community from alcohol consumption. RSA staff should be aware of these impacts.

Short-term health consequences of excessive drinking on a single day:

  • The risk-taking behaviour as a result of lost inhibitions can cause accidents, falls, reduced coordination, altered thinking and speech, and at times – unconsciousness. Alcohol is a contributor in a number of accidental deaths, including road death and drowning.

  • Increased levels of alcohol can result in aggravated sleep, stress and sexual functions. The consumption of moderate amounts of alcohol is seen as a method to minimise stress and induce sleep. However, it does not address the real cause of the stress and leads to increased wakefulness and disturbed sleep patterns.

  • One or two standard drinks can affect heart rate, blood pressure and heart muscle contraction. This reaction may not be clinically important, but the overall effect on blood flow may have negative implications on persons with cardiovascular disease.

Alcohol consumption over a long period of time increases the risk of developing health disorders. Long-term health impacts include:

  • A range of diseases affecting the heart and blood, including stroke and hypertension

  • Cirrhosis of the liver

  • Cancer, especially of the mouth, throat and oesophagus

  • Cognitive problems and dementia

  • Problems with the nerves of the arms and legs

  • Gut and pancreas disease

  • Harm to unborn baby

  • Sexual problems, especially male impotence

  • Alcohol dependence

  • Alcohol-related brain injury

  • Problems with memory and reasoning.