Risks And Dangers Of Alcohol On The Central Nervous System
Having a drink can reduce inflammation in the body and help a person to relax after a stressful day. But how alcohol affects the nervous system and the rest of the body when a person drinks too much on a long-term basis is different.
Some of the risks and dangers of conditions that can develop from alcohols effect on the central nervous system include:
How Does Alcohol Affect The Central Nervous System
The central nervous system consists of the spinal cord and brain. It is just one part of the bodys entire nervous system. Other areas of the brain and some special organs control the rest of it.
The central nervous systems job is to receive and process information from some parts of the body. This information allows the body to respond accordingly to the stimuli that it receives.
For example, if someone touches something hot, the central nervous system would receive the distress signal and trigger the muscles to pull back so that the skin isnt damaged further. When a person drinks alcohol, several parts of the central nervous system are affected, which triggers a myriad of responses.
Parts of the body that the central nervous system sends and receives information through include:
- sexual organs
Young People Versus Adults What’s The Difference
A young persons body cannot cope with alcohol the same way an adults can.
Drinking is more harmful to teens than adults because their brains are still developing throughout adolescence and well into young adulthood. Drinking during this critical growth period can lead to lifelong damage in brain function, particularly as it relates to memory, motor skills and coordination.
According to research, young people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than those who begin drinking at age 21.
For some teens, like Samantha, drinking seems to be a solution to problems they dont want to face.
When I was 13, friends would make fun of me if I didnt have a drink. I just gave in because it was easier to join the crowd. I was really unhappy and just drank to escape my life.
I went out less and less so started losing friends and the more lonely I got, the more I drank.
I was violent and out of control. I never knew what I was doing. I was ripping my family apart.
Kicked out of her home at age 16, she was homeless and started begging for money to buy drinks. After years of abuse, doctors told her there was irreparable harm to her health.
…I was only 16 but my liver was badly damaged and I was close to killing myself from everything I was drinking.Samantha
You May Like: How Does A Brain Freeze Happen
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.
What Are The Effects Of Consuming Alcohol
Alcohol is a depressant to our bodies. Some of the visible symptoms you are used to seeing in someone whos drunk slurred speech, loss of coordination, falling, loss of inhibition, passing out all of these side effects are a result of our brain cells communicating at a slower rate, explains Dr. Krel.
The initial euphoric effects of alcohol are a result of dopamine being released from the reward center in the brain. Dopamine is known as the feel good neurotransmitter and it is involved in feeling pleasure. Dopamine release is also thought to be one of the mechanisms that drive addiction. In addition to dopamine, drinking alcohol initially releases serotonin which is another neurotransmitter involved in feeling happy and calm.
Alcohol also increases the effects of GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. By increasing the effects of GABA, responses in the brain are decreased this slowed neurotransmission results in slurred speech, identifies Dr. Krel. Our limbic system is involved in emotional responses, which is also slowed by alcohol, resulting in the loss of inhibition experienced while getting drunk.
Alcohol also blocks vasopressin, a hormone that prevents our kidneys from eliminating too much fluid. This can increase the need to urinate and precipitate dehydration. Dr. Krel also mentions, Contrary to popular belief, getting drunk reduces sexual responses.
Also Check: How Do I Know If My Brain Is Bleeding
How Much Is Too Much
Your body’s response to alcohol depends on many factors. These include your age, gender, overall health, how much you drink, how long you have been drinking and how often you normally drink.
- Those who drink occasionally tend to recover once they are sober. However, while their judgment is impaired, they may make poor decisions with lasting effects, such as driving under the influence.
- Those who drink moderately, one or two drinks per day, can have a higher risk for breast cancer. They may also be prone to increased violence or accidents.
- Heavy or chronic drinking occurs over an extended period of time. For women, this is more than three drinks per day or seven drinks per week. For men, it is more than four drinks per day or 14 drinks per week. For perspective, there are five drinks in a bottle of wine. Heavy or chronic drinking can cause lasting damage.
What Should You Do
If youre a moderate or light drinker trying to decide whether to cut back for health reasons, you probably want to consider a variety of factors:
- Moderate drinking still seems to be good for your heart. More than 100 observational studies have linked moderate drinking to a reduced risk of heart attack, ischemic stroke, peripheral vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, and death from all cardiovascular causes.
- Moderate drinking has also been associated with a lower risk of gallstones and diabetes.
- For women, even moderate drinking can increase the risk of breast cancer. If youre a woman at average risk, a drink per day can increase your lifetime risk of breast cancer from 8.25% to 8.8%
- The social and psychological benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. One thing health statistics havent measured is the enjoyment of moderate drinking. It is fine to enjoy a glass of wine as the perfect accompaniment to a good dinner, or celebrate a happy occasion with a cocktail with friends.
Read Also: Bleeding In The Brain Is Called
What Are The Long
Alcohol can cause reversible and irreversible brain damage, particularly with heavy or persistent use. Of the approximately 20 million alcoholics in the United States, as many as half of them have various degrees of brain damage.
In studies, alcoholics have exhibited brain shrinkage and deficiencies in the white brain matter that carries information between cells. Brain scans of heavy drinkers indicate that alcohol negatively affects neurotransmission, brain cell metabolism, and blood flow within the frontal lobes and cerebellum. Chronic drinkers may develop permanent brain damage that results in severe medical conditions such as:
- Impaired learning, memory, movement, coordination.
- Psychological disturbances such as depression, anxiety, and insomnia
- Dementia, which affects memory and mental abilities such as language, reasoning, and problem solving
- Wet brain, a persistent amnesic disorder, which which results from vitamin B1 deficiency
In Constant Fear: The Amygdala
The frontal lobe controls other parts of the brain, like the amygdala. The amygdala is the emotional center of the brain. Without proper control from the frontal lobe, the amygdala becomes oversensitive to stress. In this state, someone can have extreme mood swings and become trapped in a state of panic and worry. Many addicts and alcoholics are constantly fearful and rarely feel safe. This is because the amygdala is overexcited.
Don’t Miss: How Do Brain Freezes Work
The Impact Of Alcohol
Overall, alcohol is linked to over 200 diseases, conditions, and injuries. In 2010, alcohol abuse was responsible for 2.8% of all deaths in the US. While it can take years of heavy drinking for diseases like alcohol-related brain damage to appear, negative effects on the brain materialize after only a few drinks.
As an individual consumes alcohol, he or she will begin to feel the depressant effects it has on the brain. As the bodys control center, the impairing effects of alcohol quickly impede the normal function of areas all over the body. Short-term symptoms indicating reduced brain function include difficulty walking, blurred vision, slowed reaction time, and compromised memory. Heavy drinking and binge drinking can result in permanent damage to the brain and nervous system.
Growing New Brain Cells
For decades scientists believed that the number of nerve cells in the adult brain was fixed early in life. If brain damage occurred, then, the best way to treat it was by strengthening the existing neurons, as new ones could not be added. In the 1960s, however, researchers found that new neurons are indeed generated in adulthooda process called neurogenesis . These new cells originate from stem cells, which are cells that can divide indefinitely, renew themselves, and give rise to a variety of cell types. The discovery of brain stem cells and adult neurogenesis provides a new way of approaching the problem of alcoholrelated changes in the brain and may lead to a clearer understanding of how best to treat and cure alcoholism .
For example, studies with animals show that high doses of alcohol lead to a disruption in the growth of new brain cells scientists believe it may be this lack of new growth that results in the longterm deficits found in key areas of the brain . Understanding how alcohol interacts with brain stem cells and what happens to these cells in alcoholics is the first step in establishing whether the use of stem cell therapies is an option for treatment .
Also Check: Vein Burst In Head
How Does Alcohol Affect The Brain
When it comes to our brain, even when we drink a moderate amount of alcohol, nearly every part of our brain matter is negatively affected, resulting in both short- and long-term implications.
Any information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was originally published .
In Australia, it is recommended that adults consume no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 standard drinks per day to reduce the health risks from alcohol. With this is mind, its important to understand how exactly alcohol affects our brain and what implications this may have on our overall health.
In this article you’ll learn:
- Short and long-term effects of alcohol products
- Alcohol and brain damage
- Tips on cutting back on alcohol consumption
Be Healthy was created by VicHealth to provide helpful tips and advice on how you and your family can stay healthy. You can read more Be Healthy articles here.
Signs And Symptoms Of A Blackout
Blackouts can be difficult to notice when theyre occurring. You may realize it only when there are gaps in your memory the next day. While theyre occurring, you may be fully aware with no obvious memory issues. During a blackout, new information may fail to make its way into long-term memory, but old memories arent affected. Your friends may have conversations with you that seem normal, with no apparent memory impairment.
However, blackouts occur with high BACs, so youre likely to experience other symptoms of alcohol intoxication. Your risk of a blackout begins at a BAC of 0.16%. This is well past the legal driving limit and the beginning of severe alcohol-impairment. At this BAC, you may experience impaired judgment, slower reaction time, slurred speech, lowered motor skills, and drowsiness. Physical symptoms like nausea and vomiting are common.
If you continue to drink, your risk of a total blackout will increase. At a 0.3% BAC and higher, blackouts are likely, and you will probably also experience a severe loss in motor function. You may not be able to complete thoughts or carry on conversations. You may also pass out. You may have alcohol poisoning at this point.
You May Like: Bleed On The Brain Prognosis
What Is The Nervous System
The term nervous system refers to the interconnected network of nerve cells that provide the body with its most basic physical and mental functions. Some of these cells form the central nervous system , in the brain and spinal cord. The CNS serves as the headquarters for all nerve activity throughout the body. It relies on two basic components: specialized nerve cells called neurons and specialized chemicals called neurotransmitters.
Neurons and neurotransmitters have an interactive relationship. Each individual neuron forms a link in the central nervous systems communications infrastructure. However to send messages, these cells must call on the services of several dozen neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitting chemicals flow back and forth as required, triggering the reactions needed to carry signals to and from the central nervous system.
The central nervous system interfaces with a second network called the peripheral nervous system and includes all other nerves in the body. It carries out instructions issued by the central system and provides critical feedback to guide future CNS activity.
The Effects Of Alcohol On The Brain
November 20, 2018 im-adminUncategorized
If youve ever had alcohol to drink, youve definitely noticed some of the affects that it has on you, even after only one or two drinks. You may have difficulty walking and slower reaction times, blurred vision and slurred speech. Your body may even feel tingling sensations. Usually, these impairments are temporary, and you can notice them fading soon after you stop drinking. But have you ever thought about why alcohol affects your body the way it does, and how drinking long term can have a serious impact on your brain and body?
Read Also: Jahi Mcmath Decomposing
Alcohol Poisoning & Overdose
According to the CDC, an average of 6 people die every day in the U.S. from alcohol poisoning. Many of those deaths are as a result of binge drinking and are not from long-term alcohol use. Just one instance of excessive alcohol intake can result in an overdose, which may lead to brain damage or death.
Binge drinking means to consume a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time and is one of the most common causes of alcohol poisoning. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states binge drinking occurs when an individuals blood alcohol content is at .08 or higher, which is the threshold for legal intoxication in many states.
An overdose happens when more alcohol is consumed than the body can process, causing a toxic build-up. The extreme depressant effect of this much alcohol can cause irregular heartbeat, dangerously low body temperature, and slowed or stopped breathing.
The Mayo Clinic website lists possible indications of alcohol poisoning including confusion, vomiting, seizures, extremely slow breathing , irregular breathing , bluish or pale skin, hypothermia, and unconsciousness. An alcohol overdose is a medical emergency. If suspected, summon help immediately.
Alcohol Consumption In The Us
Alcohol is considered socially acceptable in the United States, and many Americans consume alcohol on a regular basis. Drinking too much, however, can be harmful to your health. Between the years of 2011 and 2015, alcohol abuse was responsible for about 95,000 deaths, and excessive alcohol use also caused the death of 1 in 10 adults between the ages of 20 and 64.3
The 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reports that 139.8 million Americans aged 12 or older currently drink alcohol, 67.1 million were considered binge drinkers in the past month, and 16.6 million were classified as heavy drinkers.11
The NIAAA defines binge drinking as consuming enough alcohol to raise your BAC to 0.08 g/dl in a single occasion. This generally translates to 4 drinks for women and 5 for men within a period of about 2 hours. 2 Binge drinking can lead to the development of an AUD, and in 2018, 14.1 million adults ages 18 and older were reported to have an AUD. 11
Also Check: How To Balance Brain Chemicals
This Is Your Brain On Alcohol
- By Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women’s Health Watch
ARCHIVED CONTENT: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date each article was posted or last reviewed. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Its no secret that alcohol affects our brains, and most moderate drinkers like the way it makes them feel happier, less stressed, more sociable. Science has verified alcohols feel-good effect PET scans have shown that alcohol releases endorphins which bind to opiate receptors in the brain. Although excessive drinking is linked to an increased risk of dementia, decades of observational studies have indicated that moderate drinking defined as no more than one drink a day for women and two for men has few ill effects. However, a recent British study seems to have bad news for moderate drinkers, indicating that even moderate drinking is associated with shrinkage in areas of the brain involved in cognition and learning.