How Does Alcohol Affect My Brain?

Did you know that about 100 billion neurons (that is—100,000,000,000) are hard at work in your brain as you processes the content of this post? That’s a lot happening at once in the ol’ melon if you ask me.

As trillions of synapses occur between these neurons, info is processed at speeds exceeding 250 miles/hr, and we are allowed to function and live because of it. No one can fully appreciate or understand the amazing human mind—but anyone can abuse it.

Of course there are obvious ways you could abuse your brain, like hitting your head against a wall or reading about fiscal USA. But it’s a more creative and subtle method of abuse that hurts nearly 20 million Americans every year. Something we have allowed to permeate our culture and something our country has developed a very lax and permissive attitude towards.

I’m talking about Alcohol use—and overuse.

Alcohol Damages the Brain: Can Alcohol Damage My Brain?

Research indicates that alcoholics are doing a lot more to themselves than simply getting drunk and waking up hungover. Studies from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse (NIAA) and  a number of academic institutions including Harvard Medical school have shown through intensive study that alcohol has damaging effects on the brain.

 One study compared the way chronic alcohol abuse changes the programming of critical areas of the human brain to a computer virus eating away software.  The longer you allow it to damage the system, the more damaging it becomes.

A little alcohol, of course, has its direct effects on the brain: blurred vision, slurred speech, impaired memory, and difficulty walking—just to name a few. But for those who choose to consume it heavily and more consistently may feel lingering effects on their brain for years to come.

Even long after sobriety is achieved, the mark of alcohol often can’t be erased from an alcoholic’s brain.

A number of factors play a role in how terrible the effects of alcohol can be. Situations influencing the damaging effects of alcohol on the brain include

  • The age the person begins drinking (the younger one is, the worse it is).
  • How much the person drinks (the more one drinks, the worse it is).
  • How healthy the person is (the unhealthy are more vulnerable).
  • Family background of the person (genetic stuff . .  and a family history heavy with alcoholism isn’t good)

Specific Effects of Alcohol on the Mind: What are the Effects of Alcohol on My Brain?

Remember all those neurons we talked about before? Alcohol interferes with the communication between them by depressing the central nervous system, contracting brain tissue and killing brain cells that can’t be reproduced.

Because of these broad effects, alcohol causes serious long term effects too—specifically on the brain.

Effect on memory.

According to the NIAA, alcohol can produce detectable impairments in memory after only a few drinks. And the more booze you allow to funnel into your mouth, the more risky the effects of the stuff are on your memory.

Documented effects of alcohol abuse include

  • Severe memory impairment—the impairment on your memory is inevitable, and gets worse the longer (and more frequently) you drink.
  • Blackouts—blackouts usually occur when alcohol is consumed quickly and on an empty stomach.
  • Alcohol related brain damage—Nearly 80% of all alcoholics have thiamine deficiency. Thiamine is an essential nutrient required by brain tissue. Deficiencies in thiamine are connected with brain disorders like Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome and certain types of amnesia.

Effect on the developing brain.

The effects of alcohol on the human fetus are well documented and researched. According to an article by Scientific American, approximately one third of all babies born to alcoholic mothers will develop Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Effects (FAS or FAE).&bbsp;

This syndrome causes central nervous system (CNS) dysfunctions including: Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and impaired IQ. The article added that there are also growth and facial abnormalities associated with these infants.

Alcohol Treatment

Thankfully, you don’t have to allow alcohol addiction to ruin your life. Every day at Duffy’s rehab is another day where addicts are given hope, and alcoholics are shown how to turn their lives around. Call us today (707-200-6968) to join our family here at Duffy’s.