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How Does Alcohol Affect The Brain Long Term

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How Long Will You Live If You Drink Alcohol Everyday

How Does Alcohol Addiction Affect the Brain?

The study of 600,000 drinkers estimated that having 10 to 15 alcoholic drinks every week could shorten a persons life by between one and two years. And they warned that people who drink more than 18 drinks a week could lose four to five years of their lives.

Your Brain On Alcohol

Your whole body absorbs alcohol, but it really takes its toll on the brain. Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways. It can also affect how your brain processes information.

There are several stages of alcohol intoxication:

  • Subliminal intoxication. With a blood alcohol content between 0.01 0.05, this is the first stage of intoxication. You may not look like you have been drinking, but your reaction time, behavior and judgment may be slightly altered. Depending on weight, most men and women enter this stage after one drink.
  • Euphoria. During the early stages of drinking, your brain releases more dopamine. This chemical is linked with pleasure. During euphoria, you may feel relaxed and confident. But, your reasoning and memory may be slightly impaired. Often referred to as “tipsy,” this stage occurs when your BAC is between 0.03 and 0.12.
  • Excitement. At this stage, with a BAC from 0.09 to 0.25, you are now legally intoxicated. This level of intoxication affects the occipital lobe, temporal lobe and frontal lobe in your brain. Drinking too much can cause side effects specific to each lobe’s role, including blurred vision, slurred speech and hearing, and lack of control, respectively. The parietal lobe, which processes sensory information, is also affected. You may have a loss of fine motor skills and a slower reaction time. This stage is often marked by mood swings, impaired judgment, and even nausea or vomiting.
  • Recovery From Alcohol Abuse

    Though recovery can be challenging, research indicates that a focus on sobriety and other healthy life choices can provide a framework for better brain health. The brain is remarkably adaptable and, with proper care and support, can begin to heal from chronic alcohol use in many cases.

    When seeking a recovery partner, its important to select a treatment provider who understands how alcohol use disorder impacts the chemistry and makeup of the brain and provides treatment accordingly. Dont be afraid to ask providers directly what level of experience they have with the neuroscience of addiction and how they incorporate brain-focused care into their treatment plans.

    At StoneRidge Centers, we understand the connection between alcohol addiction and the brain. This is why we begin our treatment for alcohol addiction with a focus on healing the brain through a combination of innovative, specialized treatment and evidence-based clinical therapy, all overseen by our triple-board-certified medical director.

    Contact StoneRidge Centers today to find out how we can help you or a loved one heal the damage caused by alcohol abuse.

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    What 3 Parts Of The Brain Are Affected By Alcohol

    How Alcohol Affects the Brain

    • The Cerebral Cortex: In charge of judgment and reasoning.
    • The Cerebellum: Responsible for balance and coordination.
    • The Hypothalamus: That regulates appetite, temperature, pain, and emotions.
    • The Amygdala: for regulating social behavior.
    • The Hippocampus: the center of memory and learning.

    What Parts Of The Brain Does Alcohol Affect

    Short

    The brain controls our thoughts, emotions, memory, motor functions, temperature, senses, organs, and autonomic activities like breathing. Alcohol can have an adverse health impact on all of these vital brain functions.

    • The Cerebral Cortex is the thinking center of our consciousness. Its where we process incoming information and where we formulate judgments and decisions. Alcohol depresses this function, slowing the input of sensory information, clouding the thought process, and reducing inhibitions. Long-term use of alcohol can permanently damage the cerebral cortex.
    • The Cerebellum is the center of movement, coordination, equilibrium, and balance. Alcohol impairs this brain region, affecting our balance, causing us to be unsteady, stagger, and possibly fall. It may also cause our hands to shake.
    • The Hypothalamus and the Pituitary work together to link the nervous system to the endocrine system. This region of the brain both stimulates and inhibits key hormonal processes in order to maintain the bodys internal balance. Alcohol depresses and disrupts the balance of these systems, as well as impacting sexual desire and performance. Sexual desire may intensify, but the ability to perform may be impaired.
    • The Hippocampus controls the memory. Alcohol affects this area, causing blackouts, memory loss, and impacting the ability to learn. Long-term use of alcohol can permanently affect the memory and can contribute to dementia.

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    Alcohol And Brain Injury

    Brain injury can be caused by alcohol because it:

    • has a toxic effect on the central nervous system
    • results in changes to metabolism, heart functioning and blood supply
    • interferes with the absorption of vitamin B1 , which is an important brain nutrient
    • may be associated with poor nutrition
    • can lead to falls and accidents that injure the brain.

    Finding Treatment For Alcoholism

    Alcohol use disorders, or alcoholism, occur on a spectrum, and each person is unique. If you or someone you know is ready to discuss treatment, our admissions navigators are available 24/7 to speak with you today at; Who Answers? Who answers the helpline calls. . The type of treatment that will be most suitable for you will likely be influenced by your alcohol history, other substance use history, previous attempts at treatment, any;co-occurring medical and/or mental health conditions,;and your current situation.

    For further information on treatment during the pandemic, weve put together a guide that answers some of our most frequently asked questions:

    As the leader in addiction treatment American Addiction Centers specializes in helping people recover from alcohol addiction. If you are looking for more information about alcohol addiction, find some useful information for those seeking guidance; or you can learn more about insurance coverage and instantly verify insurance with an AAC facility:

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    Inhibition Of Hippocampal Neurogenesis

    Excessive alcohol intake causes a decrease in hippocampal neurogenesis, via decreases in neural stem cell proliferation and newborn cell survival. Alcohol decreases the number of cells in S-phase of the cell cycle, and may arrest cells in the G1 phase, thus inhibiting their proliferation. Ethanol has different effects on different types of actively dividing hippocampal progenitors during their initial phases of neuronal development. Chronic alcohol exposure decreases the number of proliferating cells that are radial glia-like, preneuronal, and intermediate types, while not affecting early neuronal type cells; suggesting ethanol treatment alters the precursor cell pool. Furthermore, there is a greater decrease in differentiation and immature neurons than there is in proliferating progenitors, suggesting that the abnormal decrease in the percentage of actively dividing preneuronal progenitors results in a greater reduction in the maturation and survival of postmitotic cells.

    Additionally, alcohol exposure increased several markers of cell death. In these studies neural degeneration seems to be mediated by non-apoptotic pathways. One of the proposed mechanisms for alcohols neurotoxicity is the production of nitric oxide , yet other studies have found alcohol-induced NO production to lead to apoptosis .

    Psychological Effects Of Alcohol

    Alcohol can have long term effects on your brain

    When it comes to the brain, alcohol acts as a depressant to the CNS. However, it can have inconsistent effects, exciting users under some conditions and sedating users under other conditions. Excitement, typically at lower doses, may be due to alcohol suppressing the inhibitory parts of the brain. Functions such as breathing, speech, thought, memory, and movement can be impacted by consuming alcohol. Mental effects may include mood changes, decreased inhibitions, relaxation, impaired judgment, slowed reaction times, difficulty remembering, confusion, and loss of consciousness.3 Chronic use of alcohol can lead to changes in the brain, as described in previous sections.

    Excessive alcohol use, even if not chronic, can lead to alcoholinduced psychiatric syndromes, such as alcohol-induced depressive disorder, alcohol-induced bipolar disorder, alcohol-induced sleep disorder, alcohol-induced psychotic disorder, and more.17,22 These disorders are temporary and can occur after significant intoxication and/or withdrawal.22

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    So What Should We Do About It

    For young people, its important to learn what alcohol could do to your brain and body in the short and long term. Find out about ways to deal with peer pressure, and if youre going to drink, make sure you really know what alcohol is, what is in your drinks and what a standard drink of alcohol looks like.

    So How Does Alcohol Affect The Brain

    Alcohol directly affects neurotransmitters, which control behavior and thought. It is both a depressant and a stimulant. Alcohol depresses your movements, speech, and thoughts. The effects are directly related to the amount of alcohol consumed. However, like many drugs, alcohol also stimulates the release of dopamine in your body, which tricks your body into feeling pleasure and can in turn make you associate drinking alcohol with feeling great. The tricky part here, is that the more you drink alcohol to get that feeling, the less dopamine your body releases. Over time, you end up being mentally hooked, forever in search of that pleasurable feeling you think that alcohol gives you. This is where addictions take hold.

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    Brain Regions Susceptible To Alcoholism

    Does alcohol kill brain cells? Well, looking at how the different areas of the brain suffer under the influence of alcoholism, the answer is yes.

    As the blood alcohol concentration increases, its effects on the central nervous system becomes more pronounced. The brain, being a complex system, has specific regions that are more vulnerable to chemical modifications. The following are some of the main regions in the brain system that are more susceptible to alcoholism.

    The Effects Of Drinking On The Teenage Brain

    Alcohol

    Studies show alcohol increases the chance of risky behavior, especially in teens and young adults. It may also have severe, long-term effects on young brains.

    Toren Volkmann of Portland, OR, drank his first beer when he was 15 years old. Like many teenagers, he turned to alcohol out of boredom. It was a way for him to experiment, take risks, and look “cool” in front of his friends.

    “What started out as a weekend thing eventually took over my social life,” says Volkmann, a co-author with his mother, Chris, of From Binge to Blackout: A Mother and Son Struggle with Drinking . “Alcohol is just so alluring, particularly during a time when fitting in is more important than ever before and you’re seeking pleasure.”

    Volkmann’s experience with alcohol isn’t unique. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , one in four high school students engage in binge drinking every month, meaning they consume four or five drinks over the span of a few hours. The problem: Binge drinking not only increases the risk of fatal car accidents, irresponsible sexual behavior, and acute alcohol poisoning, but it can also have long-termperhaps irreversibleeffects on the teenage brain, according to recent research.

    The Teenage Brain Explained

    The frontal lobes, which include the prefrontal cortex, control what most of the rest of the brain does. Like a master switchboard, the frontal lobes keep things running smoothly.

    The Teenage Brain Buzzed

    The Teenage Brain Tracked

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    How Does Alcoholism Affect The Brain

    According to a 2013 survey conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health on the;effects of alcoholism, approximately 52.2% of Americans 12 years and above were categorized as current alcohol users. 6.3% of them were heavy alcohol users.

    It is not a surprise then that most of the alcohol-related effects including brain damage are rampant in the United States. The mental health field has brought it out clearly that consumption of alcohol potentially exacerbates underlying mental health disorders. This is the first pathway that sheds light on how alcohol affects the brain.

    The brain is one of the most delicate organs of the body and needless to say the most vulnerable to injury. The brain damage from alcohol consumption involves a multiplicity of factors that vary from one person to another.

    Close to half of the approximately 20 million alcoholics in the United States suffer from neuropsychological difficulties arising from the effects of the interaction between alcoholism and the brain. This ranges from mild to severe. Close to 2 million alcoholics among them drinking underage cases have permanent and debilitating conditions requiring lifetime custodial care.

    The explanation of the effect of alcohol on the brain can best be summarized using models developed in the health field.

    Can Brain Damage Be Reversed

    Contrary to the common message you may have heard, alcohol does not kill brain cells. However, it damages the neurons dendrites, making it difficult for them to send messages to one another. Unlike the cells in various other parts of your body, neurons do not divide or renew themselves, with only a few exceptions.7

    However, the central nervous system has a strategy for repairing itself that is completely different from other organs in the body. Though damaged neurons cannot repair and rebuild themselves the way the skin can, they make new connections to compensate for the losses due to the damages.7

    Some people with a severe alcohol use disorder can improve their cognitive functioning if they abstain from alcohol for about 1 year.8 The brain appears to reorganize to compensate for the behavioral problems.9

    In most severe AUD cases, however, limited recovery is possible. In about 20% of those with a severe AUD, virtually no improvement in cognitive functioning is made even after abstaining from alcohol for a long time.

    It is important to note that alcohols impact on your brain, specifically, depends on individual factors such as your family health history and history of substance use, your age, sex, and mental and physical health.9

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    What Happens To Your Brain When You Quit Drinking

    As weve noted above, an alcohol use disorder fundamentally changes the way certain key areas of the brain function. As the brain and body become more habituated to the presence of alcohol in the body, it becomes more difficult for a chronic drinker to quit drinking.

    When they do decide to stop drinking, they will experience a condition known as withdrawal, as the brain resets back to its baseline functioning in the absence of alcohol. This means that the brain is no longer releasing the same levels of dopamine and other neurotransmitter chemicals that it was during chronic alcohol use. At the same time, the brain begins to restart the flow of other chemicals that were paused by alcohol.

    For example, during withdrawal, the brain restarts the production of neurotransmitter chemicals that cause us feelings of stress and anxiety. While alcohol dampens the production of these neurotransmitters, they are present and active when sober. The release of these chemicals, in addition to other physical and chemical changes in the absence of alcohol, can lead an individual going through withdrawal to become more angry, depressed, frustrated, or tired than previously.

    In addition to its effects on the brain, alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening. Withdrawal often takes place within 48 hours of an individuals last drink and can lead to flu-like symptoms, including lack of energy, increased sweating, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and feelings of stress and anxiety.

    How Does Alcohol Affect Memory

    Effects Of Alcohol On The Brain

    Chronic alcohol use has been proven to cause damage to the brain in many ways. While drinking in moderation will not significantly impair long-term memory, chronic alcohol abuse will disrupt or damage memory.

    Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down brain functioning and neural activity. Heavy drinking alters a persons mood, behavior, and neural functioning. Alcohol depresses the nervous system and can produce an array of cognitive impairments. If continued over an extended period of time, alcohol abuse can lead to memory loss or brain damage.

    Not only does alcohol disrupt our memory storage, but it also affects brain matter. A persons cognitive and behavioral functions are linked by the white and grey matter within our brains.

    A healthy, active lifestyle will keep this brain matter performing at optimal levels. However, introducing heavy alcohol consumption into the equation will quickly destroy both grey and white matter, which can wreak havoc on memory and cognition.

    Losing brain cells is a normal part of the aging process. However, consuming large quantities of alcohol will destroy brain cells at a rapid pace. The increased rate of decay will result in quicker symptoms of memory loss and dementia and will affect a persons overall cognitive functions.

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    What Is The Healthiest Alcohol You Can Drink

    7 Healthy Alcoholic Drinks

    • Dry Wine Calories: 84 to 90 calories per glass.
    • Ultra Brut Champagne. Calories: 65 per glass.
    • Vodka Soda. Calories: 96 per glass.
    • Mojito. Calories: 168 calories per glass.
    • Whiskey on the Rocks. Calories: 105 calories per glass.
    • Bloody Mary. Calories: 125 calories per glass.
    • Paloma.

    What The Study Said

    A team of researchers from University of Oxford looked at data from 424 men and 103 women who are participating in the 10,000-person Whitehall Study, an ongoing investigation of the relationship of lifestyle and health among British civil servants. At the beginning of the study in 1985, all of the participants were healthy and none were dependent on alcohol. Over the next 30 years, the participants answered detailed questions about their alcohol intake and took tests to measure memory, reasoning, and verbal skills. They underwent brain imaging with MRI at the end of the study.

    When the team analyzed the questionnaires, the cognitive test scores, and the MRI scans, they found that the amount of shrinkage in the hippocampus the brain area associated with memory and reasoning was related to the amount people drank. Those who had the equivalent of four or more drinks a day had almost six times the risk of hippocampal shrinkage as did nondrinkers, while moderate drinkers had three times the risk. However, the only link between drinking and cognitive performance was that heavy drinkers had a more rapid decline in the ability to name as many words beginning with a specific letter as possible within a minute.

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