The NHS has published some short-term and long-term risks of alcohol misuse.
Short-term risks could include:
- Accidents and injuries requiring hospital treatment, such as a head injury
- Violent behaviour and being a victim of violence
- Unprotected sex that could potentially lead to unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- Loss of personal possessions, such as wallets, keys or mobile phones
- Alcohol poisoning– this may lead to vomiting, seizures (fits) and falling unconscious
Persistent alcohol misuse increases your risk of serious health conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Liver disease
- Liver cancer and bowel cancer
- Mouth cancer
As well as causing serious health problems, long-term alcohol misuse can lead to social problems, such as unemployment, divorce, domestic abuse and homelessness.
Alcohol and memory
Soon after drinking alcohol, your brain processes slow down and your memory can be impaired. After large quantities of alcohol, the brain can stop recording into the ‘memory store’.
That’s why you can wake up the next day with a ‘blank’ about what you said or did and even where you were. This short-term memory failure or ‘black out’ doesn’t mean that brain cells have been damaged, but frequent heavy sessions can damage the brain because of alcohol’s effect on brain chemistry and processes.
Drinking heavily over a long period of time can also have long-term effects on memory. Even on days when you don’t drink any alcohol, recalling what you did yesterday, or even where you have been earlier that day, become difficult.