Although alcohol is legal for people over the age of 21 in the United States, it still comes with many dangers.
Blackouts, alcohol poisoning, alcohol-related injuries, and DWIs are common. Drinking frequently can also lead to an addiction. All of these problems largely stem from how alcohol impacts the brain.
How Alcohol Affects the BrainDrinking can lead to cognitive, behavioral, and physical changes based on how alcohol affects the brain and its functioning. These changes can range from mild to severe depending largely on the amount consumed as well as the frequency. Other factors that can impact the effects of alcohol on the brain can include genetics, bodyweight, tolerance, age, and the person’s individual health. Regardless of these factors, the effects of alcohol on the brain involve both short- and long-term changes when someone starts to drink regularly.
The Short-Term Effects of Alcohol on the BrainWhen someone has been drinking a significant amount of alcohol, there are visible changes like a rosy complexion or poor coordination. The more they drink in one sitting, the more noticeable these effects are. Along with these outside changes in behavior and physical appearance, there is a lot going on inside their head as well.
The short-term effects of alcohol on the brain may include:
- Impaired cognition
- Memory problems
- Poor decision making
While these negative effects of alcohol on the brain can be severe in the moment, they typically go away once the body metabolizes the alcohol. This process could take several hours if the person consumed a large amount in a single sitting. Although the initial effects of alcohol on the brain are fleeting, with time they can add up.
The Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the BrainWith excessive and prolonged drinking like from alcoholism, the effects of alcohol on the brain can become much more severe. The problems no longer go away when drinking stops and could lead to permanent and irreversible damage.
According to research, some possible effects of long-term alcohol abuse on the brain include:
- Psychological problems
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
- Brain shrinkage
- Increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Addiction and dependence
Because of the damaging effects of alcohol on the brain, it is important to get help sooner rather than later if you or someone you know has a drinking problem.
At Banyan Treatment Centers, our nationwide family of treatment centers is here to help you or a loved one get sober. To start the journey to recovery, call us today at 888-280-4763.
- NIH -The Role of Thiamine Deficiency in Alcoholic Brain Disease
- National Organization for Rare Disorders - Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
- Alzheimer’s Society - Alcohol and dementia
- BMC - Alcohol use disorders and risk of Parkinson’s disease: findings from a Swedish national cohort study 1972–2008