How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain?
Most people know that alcohol has a significant effect on the brain in the short-term. Consuming alcohol affects the way we think – it dramatically alters our cognitive function, even if we are just enjoying a couple of beers during a Sunday picnic. This is why it is recommended that people don’t operate heavy machinery or make any life-changing decisions while under the influence. Alcohol lowers our inhibitions and increases our propensity to engage in risk-taking behaviors.
The moment we consume any amount of alcohol, the chemical compound begins to block signals between neurons, leading to slurred speech, slowed reflexes, changes in memory, and irrational behaviors. However, it is also important to note that alcohol has many serious, long-term effects on the brain. Over time, the brain will adapt to these blocked neurological signals. To compensate, the brain begins over-activating certain neurotransmitters.
It’s all pretty scientific, but in layman’s terms – after a while, the brain can’t function without alcohol. This leads to symptoms of withdrawal, which can be extremely uncomfortable and even life-threatening when left untreated. It also leads to permanent brain damage. Many chronic alcoholics experience lasting damage to their cognitive function, which affects memory, coordination, the ability to feel pleasure, and a variety of other vital functions.
How Alcohol Affects Brain Chemistry
Alcohol affects the brain in several ways. men and women who engage in occasional drinking will experience a different range of consequences than those who engage in heavy and persistent drinking.
Wet brain syndrome is the result of chronic vitamin B1 deficiency. As soon as this condition develops, it must be immediately caught and all drinking must be stopped abruptly – if drinking continues once the symptoms associated with a wet brain develop, this condition is considered completely irreversible. Those who experience wet brain syndrome will appear confused all of the time, and they will have a difficult time functioning normally at all.
Their motor skills will be severely compromised and they might even experience ongoing hallucinations. If you or someone you love has been struggling with alcohol abuse, it is important to seek professional care immediately to avoid more severe symptoms of chronic alcohol use. Evoke Wellness offers a medical alcohol detox that focuses on safely managing the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. If you or a loved one are a chronic alcoholic, professional help is available to overcome this devastating disease.
Why Drinking Alcohol is Bad for Your Brain
Some of the short-term cognitive effects of alcohol that typically affect moderate drinkers include:
- Problems with memory and memory impairment, which can be full short-term memory loss if an individual experiences a “blackout”
- A steep but impermanent decline in the ability to make rational decisions
- An increase in risk-taking or reckless behavioral patterns
For example, some short-term effects of alcohol use on cognitive functioning include getting behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, forgetting everything that happened while intoxicated, or engaging in other risk-taking behaviors like promiscuous sex.
Some of the long-term cognitive effects of excessive alcohol use include:
- A diminished amount of gray matter present within the brain
- Lasting short-term or long-term memory loss
- A compromise attention span
- The development of the wet brain, also known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
Can the Brain Heal from Alcoholism?
One of the beautiful things about recovery is the ability of the physical body to heal itself over time. Much of the damage that is done by heavy drinking can be repaired when years of sobriety are maintained. However, in some cases, alcohol abuse does permanent damage to the brain and other vital organs. That is why it is always a better idea to seek professional treatment sooner rather than later. even if you believe that your alcohol abuse disorder is “not yet that bad,” it can rapidly progress to something much more severe and damaging.
Evoke Wellness – A Comprehensive Approach
At Evoke Wellness, we take a comprehensive approach to alcohol addiction treatment. Because alcoholism affects the body, the mind, and the spirit, we utilize an integrated program of recovery that focuses on physical, mental, and emotional healing. For more information on our program of alcohol addiction recovery, or to learn more about the negative impacts that excessive drinking has on the brain, reach out to our team of specialists today.