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Alcohol and its effects on brain

Alcohol and its effects on brain

October 18 | By Rachael

Alcohol abuse is widespread in the United States. More than 52.2 percent Americans, aged 12 or above, reportedly abused alcohol in 2013, as per the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). While use of alcohol for recreational purposes do not pose a great harm, many users consume alcohol habitually and often become addicts. That is where the problem starts.

Alcohol harms the body including internal organs in many ways. Many people tend to believe otherwise, but data collected over the years proves that alcohol is responsible for many cognitive disabilities. Here are some of the damaging effects of alcohol on the brain.

The initial effects of alcohol on the brain

Alcohol affects the receptor sites for GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), glutamate, and dopamine neurotransmitters. This results in physical problems such as slow movement and speech.

However, alcohol’s effect on the dopamine site is what makes people go for it again and again. The dopamine receptors are the brain’s reward center that produces pleasurable feelings. That is why the drinker feels excited or elated after a few drinks of alcohol.

The elevating effect of alcohol mainly depends on the factor called blood alcohol content or BAC. When the BAC level goes up, alcohol acts as a stimulant, but when the reverse occurs alcohol becomes a sedative. However, there are many other factors that determine alcohol’s effect on a person, including the amount of alcohol consumed, how often drinks are consumed, as well as the sex, age, and other genetic factors.

Alcohol’s effect on occasional drinkers

Alcohol may produce some short-term effects on occasional drinkers, such as memory impairment, blackouts, etc. Memory impairment gets worse with an increase in alcohol consumption while blackouts usually occur when alcohol is consumed on an empty stomach.

Further, since the cognitive abilities get compromised, the occasional drinker may indulge in dangerous activities like engaging in unprotected sex, vandalism and driving under influence.

Effect on moderate drinkers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has issued guidelines to define moderate drinking. According to CDC, two standard drinks every day is considered moderate for males, while for females, it is one standard drink. Although, many experts say that moderate drinking is good for health, such drinkers may end up facing the same health risks as occasional drinkers. Memory impairment and other physical and mental problems can arise in case of moderate drinking too.

Effects of heavy drinking    

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) cautions that heavy drinkers often suffer from an impairment of intellectual abilities and the size of their brain can shrink due to alcohol. These impairments may affect their abstract thinking abilities. In some cases, visuospatial abilities or the abilities to see and remember two- and three-dimensional space objects can get affected.

Research supports the fact that 80 percent of heavy alcohol drinkers have a thiamine deficiency. They may also suffer from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS). The effects of WKS are confusion, instability of eye nerves, reduced muscle coordination, and problems in memory and learning ability, etc.

The symptoms may differ from one to the other but impairment of cognitive abilities is common among all.

Get help to get rid of alcohol

Excessive alcohol consumption is harmful. Despite this, most people addicted to it are unable to kick the habit and they develop a dependence on alcohol. If you are from Colorado, there are many facilities for alcohol treatment in Colorado that can help you become sober. To know more about the best facilities that offer a holistic approach to alcohol addiction treatment in Colorado, call the Colorado Alcohol Addiction Help at their 24/7 helpline number (866)-592-9261. You can also chat online with our treatment advisors to get the necessary help to live a life free from maladies and alcohol-induced problems.