The Basics Of Alcohol Dependence
Alcohol consumption turns into dependence when drinking starts interfering with your career, relationships, and other aspects of your everyday life. It is very easy to build this tolerance and dependence, seeing as alcohol is a highly-addictive depressant.
When the central nervous system gets used to having alcohol around, the brain receives messages and produces extra chemicals. If you stop drinking suddenly, your brain is still producing those chemicals and can become overstimulated. This is where all withdrawal symptoms stem from.
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.
Lower Your Blood Pressure
If you drink a lot and your blood pressure is too high, you might be able to bring your numbers back down to normal by doing one simple thing: giving up alcohol. Even simply easing back on drinks can have a big payoff. Talk to your doctor about your numbers. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80. You have high blood pressure if yours is above 130/80.
Recommended Reading: Why Do People Get Brain Freeze
Why Do Repeated Alcohol Withdrawal Episodes Get Worse
Kindling is a phenomenon of brain chemistry for alcoholics. It basically means that episodes of withdrawal tend to get worse over time.
Due to kindling, Ive experienced almost every symptom listed in all of the stages of alcohol withdrawal above.
In high school, I had a few scattered hangovers. These progressed to mild alcohol withdrawal symptoms when my tolerance increased in college. By the time I finished college, I experienced moderate symptoms if I went a few days without drinking.
In my mid-twenties, I could not take a week off of drinking without suffering some gray area between moderate and severe withdrawal symptoms. I had to call in sick to work whenever I wanted a dry period to begin. Eventually, my symptoms got so severe that I was left with no option but to get help.
The worsening of symptoms from episode to episode baffled me. Why couldnt I go back to having simple hangovers or mild withdrawal symptoms?
The answer is that I had progressively greased the pathways of alcohol withdrawal in my own brain. With each alternating period of drinking, withdrawal, and dry time, my brains compensatory manipulation of GABA and glutamate became more exacerbated.
Moreover, scientists have found that each alcohol withdrawal experience permanently alters specific processes within;our brains.
- Longer duration of drinking causes more brain and organ damage
- Psychological dependence increases along with physical dependence
Benefits Of No Alcohol For Three Months And Longer
Congratulations, the worst is officially behind you at this stage. While recovery is a lifelong process that never ends, your physical addiction should subside considerably. You may notice bouts of post-acute withdrawal syndrome at various points over your first year of sobriety, but these should be infrequent and go away in time. Continuing to attend 12-step meetings and use sobriety apps can go a long way in keeping you sober during these tough times.
On the whole, though, you should continue to notice improvements in mood and your physical health. Alcohol takes a toll on the body, and the longer you go without drinking, the better youll feel physically and mentally.
Are you ready to get started on your own recovery journey? Its never easy, but when you stick with it, its always rewarding. Reach out for help at or through our confidential contact form. Now that you know what happens when you stop drinking, you can make an informed choice and guide your life into a better, happier place.
Don’t Miss: Can You Get Brain Eating Amoeba From Shower
How Long Does It Take The Brain To Heal From Drinking
The brain and body take a beating from alcohol abuse, depending on how long it takes place, but it is not easy to recover from the damage caused. In time, the brain can begin to repair itself and what it lost, but heavy drinking can take a toll on a persons cognitive abilities, including attention and memory, which are debilitated even when alcohol is in the bloodstream. Impaired performance reflects poor concentration and focus, including reduced reaction times. Alcohol can dehydrate people who dont drink enough water to compensate and cause kidney damage. Find out how the brain navigates the healing process and works to repair itself from alcohols effects.
The brain does not return to its usual state for a long time after a person stops drinking. Attention, memory, and reaction time start to return but are not at normal speeds for quite some time. A hangover, for instance, may have serious consequences for a persons performance at work. Heavy drinking takes a toll on peoples work, and family life, along with other relationships. When the brain is not performing well, it can impact their entire life:;
- Within 14 days of detox, the brain replaces much of the volume lost and the cerebellum responds the most quickly of all
- Partial recovery with continued abstinence is likely
- Different brain regions heal at different paces, including the thinking part of the brain that need longer to recover
When You Stop Drinking Alcohol You Will Be Less Accident
Alcohol affects the brain’s cerebellum, which is the balance center. “When you are drunk, you can’t keep balance,”;Dr. Dean Drosnes, addiction specialist and medical director of the Pennsylvania campus of Caron Treatment Centers, put it simply when speaking with;Health Digest. Furthermore, the American College of Surgeons noted that people who drink are at a greater risk of dying from injury;as well as sustaining nonfatal injuries, and this includes moderate drinkers too. “Even casual drinking has mild effects on the cerebellum, but when you stop drinking, your cerebellum returns to normal and you may even notice you are walking more briskly than you used to walk,” Drosnes confirmed.
Each and every day, 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes;involving a drunk driver, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Drinking affects your reflexes and impairs your judgement, setting the stage for a potentially fatal car accident if you are behind the wheel. The more you consume, the greater the effects on your driving, but the American College of Surgeons notes that these dangerous effects can be seen with a;blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 below the legal limit.
Also Check: Why Do People Get Brain Freeze
You May Reverse Your Prediabetes By Giving Up Alcohol
Blood sugar or glucose levels fluctuate when you consume alcohol,;Dr. Dean Drosnes, addiction specialist and medical director of the Pennsylvania campus of Caron Treatment Centers, told Health Digest. “If you go to the doctor for a routine blood test and your blood sugar is higher than it should be, you may have prediabetes; and if you stop drinking, it will drop your blood sugar and you will no longer be in that category,” he explained.
Prediabetes is a condition that occurs when your blood sugar levels are too high, but not quite high enough to be considered diabetes yet. Prediabetes is defined as a fasting blood sugar of 100 milligrams per deciliter of blood to 125 mg/dl. By contrast, diabetes is diagnosed by a fasting blood sugar that is greater than or equal to 126 mg/dl. Normal blood sugar is less than 100 mg/dl. Quitting alcohol can give you a head start against type 2 diabetes, the form of the disease most closely related to obesity and one that increases risk for heart disease.
When You Quit Drinking Your Risk For Certain Cancers Lowers
Drinking too much alcohol increases the risk for many cancers. This list includes cancers of the mouth, throat, liver, colon, breast, and more, according to the American Cancer Society. In fact, alcohol use accounts for about 6 percent of all cancers and 4 percent of all cancer deaths in the United States. And the more alcohol you consume, the higher your risk for these cancers.
Exactly how alcohol affects cancer risk differs by cancer type. Alcohol can increase levels of the female sex hormone estrogen and other hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. Alcohol also may increase breast cancer risk by damaging genetic material in cells. Women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15 percent higher risk of breast cancer when compared with teetotalers, explained;Breastcancer.org.;
Quitting or cutting back on alcohol helps to lower these risks. Regular, heavy alcohol damages the liver, causing inflammation and scarring that may set the stage for liver cancer. But “data has suggested that the risk of liver cancer falls after alcohol cessation by 6 percent to 7 percent per year,” addiction specialist and psychiatrist Roopali Parikh told Health Digest.
Recommended Reading: Jahi Mcmath Decomposing
Does Alcohol Kill Brain Cells
A common expression to warn people to cut back on harmful behaviors is that they will kill their brain cells. As weve seen earlier, alcohol can fundamentally reshape and rewire the brain, but does it actually kill brain cells themselves?
Research from Harvard Medical School found that drinking damages the brains white matter, or tissue deep inside the brain that helps us process thoughts and governs movement, as well as transmits messages between the nervous system and other regions of the brain.
While Parkinsons Disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure can also damage white matter, alcohol can speed up this cumulative damage. Researchers found that alcohol particularly damaged white matter in parts of the brain that are responsible for controlling impulses, making it less likely that individuals will be able to cut back or quit drinking.
Luckily, researchers did see one glimmer of hope, as it appeared that this damaged white matter could potentially heal if drinkers quit drinking before they reached the age of 50.
While individuals who have consumed alcohol on a chronic basis for many years are at high risk of this type of damage, the risk is not limited to long-term drinkers.
An additional study found that damage to the brains white matter resulted in slower, less efficient thinking which can impact individuals for long periods of time, especially if they sustained alcohol-related damage to their brains at a younger age.
Your Liver Gets A Break Once You Stop Drinking Alcohol
A detox organ, your liver is charged with breaking down alcohol so it can be removed from your body. Some of the byproducts of this process can trigger inflammation and injure liver cells, according to the American Liver Foundation. If you drink more alcohol than the liver can process, the imbalance can injure the liver by interfering with the normal breakdown of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
Alcohol-related liver disease is caused by drinking too much alcohol and is largely preventable. The three main types of liver disease associated with alcohol are fatty liver, alcohol-related hepatitis, and alcohol-related cirrhosis. Fatty liver is marked by an excessive amount of fat inside liver cells that make it harder for the liver to do its job, and alcohol-related hepatitis is an in inflammation of the liver and destruction of liver cells. As many as 35 percent of heavy drinkers develop alcohol-related hepatitis. Lastly, alcohol-related cirrhosis, or liver scarring, is the most serious type of alcohol-related liver disease. But “liver health can also improve over time with quitting alcohol,” addiction psychiatrist Roopali Parikh;told Health Digest.The liver is capable or amazing things and can repair and regenerate when given a chance.
Read Also: What Part Of The Brain Controls Vomiting
You Can Boost Your Metabolism
When you consume alcohol, your body has to focus on processing this toxin and eliminating it from the body. Like macronutrients, the ethanol in alcohol has calories: 7 calories per gram. However, unlike carbs or fat that can be stored for energy, alcohol is not stored in the body, and simply remains in the body until it can be eliminated. Skip the booze, and your body won’t waste time expelling alcohol, but it can burn carbs, then flubber.
RELATED: Learn how to fire up your metabolism and lose weight the smart way.
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: Cancel Brainly Membership
What Parts Of The Brain Does Alcohol Affect
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.
Brain injury can be caused by alcohol because it:
Liver Fat Will Decrease
In a small study conducted by New Scientist and the Institute for Liver and Digestive Health at University College London Medical School, abstaining from alcohol for a month led to an average of 15 percent decrease in liver fat . This is important because fat accumulation in the liver can lead to liver damage and eventually liver disease.
Don’t Miss: Why Do Brain Freezes Happen
With Go Sober For October Getting More Publicity Every Year We Wanted To Share With You Some Of The Typical Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms And Side Effects You May Experience When You Give Up The Booze
If youâve decided to quit drinking alcohol, either for Sober October, or because you feel the time is right, there might be an expectation that after a few days youâll feel refreshed and brand new. Youâll get a clearer head, more energy, sleep better and lose weight, right? Those things will happen, but perhaps not quite in the way you think. Instead, there is a series of stages that often make people feel worse before they feel better. There is also no magic number of how many days or weeks it will take for the benefits to kick in.
We spoke to some of our doctors about the common issues people might expect to encounter on their journey to sobriety.
PLEASE NOTE: While Vala is not a specific alcohol and drug rehabilitation service, our team are available online to talk about your symptoms, options and discuss and support you with a care plan. Please click here to book an appointment.
Wrangling Withdrawal: Six Hours To Two Weeks After Quitting
What happens to your body when you stop drinking? When someone makes the decision to stop drinking, the first 72 hours are critical, as theyre in the most painful part of the treatment and recovery process. As your body flushes all the alcohol from your system, youll experience the unpleasant pangs of acute withdrawal but the benefits of quitting drinking will soon make themselves known.