Previously we have discussed how alcohol can cause cognitive impairment, but in today's article, I believe it's important to search for deeper answers and examine more about alcohol's effects on the brain.
The effects of alcohol on the Mind
Nearly a third of America's population suffers from or will suffer from alcoholism at some point in their lives. In the United States, alcohol usage is widespread, with around 85 percent of the population admitting to having consumed alcohol at some point in their lives. Over a quarter of people claim they've binge drunk in the recent month. Binge drinking is defined as drinking until one's blood alcohol level reaches 0.08, which in the United States is considered intoxicated.
Alcohol is socially acceptable even though long-term alcohol abuse, on the other hand, can have severe consequences for both mental and physical health. It can also lead to addiction or make other mental health problems worse.
What effect does alcohol have on the Brain?
The human brain is a delicate and complicated organ that requires a precise chemical balance to function properly. Equilibrium is disrupted when you are inebriated with alcohol. Your brain must adapt to compensate for the mental impacts of alcohol if you consume it frequently and for a long time.
The development of mental dependence is one of the most concerning effects of alcohol on the brain and can be attributed to both genetic causes as well as environmental. If alcohol use is reduced or stopped altogether, this is a state of dependence that causes physical and emotional withdrawal symptoms. Alcoholism is a brain illness in which a person drinks compulsively and cannot control their use or quit drinking. Alcohol dependence can lead to alcoholism. Even if alcoholism has terrible consequences in their lives, people are unlikely to stop independently.
Alcohol's short-term effects on the Brain
Alcohol inebriation is one of the most noticeable short-term consequences of alcohol on the brain. Alcohol inebriation causes various symptoms, depending on their sex, how much a person drinks, their body size and makeup, their tolerance, and how often they drink in general. Intoxication symptoms might emerge after just one or two drinks, depending on the drink and the individual.
Alcohol's immediate impacts on the brain are due to its effects on its ability to communicate and process information. Drinking excessively or very quickly can result in unfavourable mental impacts, including confusion, poor motor abilities, and a delay in making decisions. You put yourself in danger of alcohol poisoning if you continue to drink despite the appearance of these symptoms.
Overdosing on alcohol, often known as poisoning, is a dangerous circumstance that can result in the following symptoms:
Breathing and heart rates have slowed
Nausea and vomiting
Alcohol poisoning might also harm your cognitive functioning in the long run.
Alcohol's long-term effects on the Brain
After someone stops drinking or receives alcoholism treatment and can stay clean, some of the effects of alcohol on the brain will diminish. Other physical and emotional impacts, on the other hand, may last an extended period. Heavy drinking puts you at risk for a variety of health concerns.
This is especially true if you consume large amounts of alcohol over a long period. The following are some of these issues:
Failure of the liver
Issues with digestion
Immune system deficiency
Disturbances in mood and sleep
Anxiety and depression are examples of mental health concerns.
Alcohol's effects on the brain can be long-lasting, and it can even cause the hippocampus portion of the brain to atrophy. According to a University of Oxford study, those who drank four or more alcoholic beverages per day had a six-fold higher chance of hippocampal atrophy than non-drinkers. In comparison to non-drinkers, moderate drinkers showed some hippocampal shrinkage—the amount of shrinkage correlated with the amount of alcohol consumed by the participants in the research.
Long-term alcoholics are also susceptible to thiamine deficiency. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, often known as "wet brain," can result from this impairment. Mental disorientation, eye movement disturbances, poor coordination, and difficulties learning or remembering are symptoms of this illness.
Another harmful consequence of alcohol on the brain that occurs after chronic or long-term consumption is alcohol use disorder. This is a more formal name for what we often refer to as alcoholism. Alcoholism is a compulsive and repetitive pattern of alcohol misuse that persists despite the addict's negative consequences. Health difficulties, job loss, legal issues, and destroyed relationships are possible outcomes.
How does alcoholism diagnose by a mental health professional?
Alcoholism is frequently used as a colloquial phrase to describe somebody who looks to drink excessively or frequently. To formally diagnose someone with alcoholism, a mental health practitioner must apply a set of criteria.
To be diagnosed with alcoholism, a person must meet at least two of the 11 criteria listed below within a year:
Cravings for alcohol
Consumption of alcoholic beverages in potentially dangerous settings, such as when driving.
Drinking alcohol despite having a bad relationship
Drinking has caused you to neglect your obligations at home or work.
Indulging in more alcoholic beverages than you expected
Developing an alcohol tolerance and requiring more to feel the effects
Attempting and failing to reduce alcohol consumption
Drinking despite physical and mental health issues
Giving up things you used to enjoy to drink more
Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal when you cut back or stop drinking
Devoting a significant amount of time to obtaining alcohol
Any two items on this list, as you can see, can easily suggest a pattern of problematic use. You may encounter more than two things on this list, indicating the prevalence of alcoholism.
Alcohol consumption is widespread and socially acceptable in the United States. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2018, almost 140 million Americans over 12 drank alcohol regularly. Almost 67 million people binge drank in the previous month, and over 16 million were deemed, strong drinkers. Binge drinking occurs when you consume enough alcohol to raise your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 in a single drinking session. Over 14 million persons aged 18 and up were reported to have an alcohol use disorder in 2018. Getting sober living won't solve all your problems, but it will put you in a position to be able to take back the driver's seat in your life.
To put it another way, if you're having trouble quitting or reducing your alcohol intake, you're not alone. Going to local meetings, finding a counsellor, or getting involved in a sober living near you can provide great benefits. If you're near Colorado, USA you can join Serenity Falls Sober living homes.