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Alcohol use disorders and the physiological effects of alcohol (1 of 3)

CPD Hours



All Modules
Mental health
Community and primary health care


Alcohol is an established part of the Australian community and culture, but its habitual consumption is associated with significant negative societal consequences.

Not only does excessive alcohol use increase the chances of accidents, injuries, and violence, but it is also causally related to many chronic severe medical conditions.

In this first part of our three-part series on alcohol use disorders (AUDs), we introduce the effects of alcohol on the brain and explore how dependence develops through regular drinking.

The signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorders are presented, together with a consideration of the factors influencing the disease’s development.

We also discuss the most common serious health conditions linked to chronic alcohol abuse.

Completing this module will enable nurses to identify the effects of intoxication or dependence and help them advise on the short- and long-term dangers of alcohol consumption.

Finally, we summarise the latest Australian guidelines for reducing health risks when drinking alcohol.

This module is part of a series of three on alcohol use disorders. The three modules are:

  • Alcohol use disorders and the physiological effects of alcohol
  • Alcohol use disorders: Screening and brief interventions
  • Alcohol withdrawal syndrome: Identification, assessment, and management

Learning Objective

At the end of this module participants will be able to:

  • Define the short-term effects of alcohol on the brain.
  • Outline how alcohol dependence develops.
  • Discuss the origins of and risk factors for alcohol use disorders.
  • Identify signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorders.
  • Advise on the long-term health risks of alcohol consumption.
  • Outline the Australian recommendations of safe levels of alcohol use.

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