There is no doubt that the alcohol you consume can have long lasting damaging affects on your brain. Drinking affects our brains in more ways than you may think and unfortunately, can cause you to suffer more than you would think. However, a number of factors influence how and to what extent alcohol affects the brain. For instance, how much and how often a person drinks, the age at which they began drinking, the person’s age, level of education, gender, genetic background, and family history, whether they were at risk for prenatal alcohol exposure and lastly his or her general health status.
A person who is a heavy drinker and over a long period of time may have brain deficits that persist well after he or she achieves sobriety. How drinking affects our brains and the likelihood of reversing the impact of heavy drinking on the brain remain hot topics in alcohol research today. It a pretty observation that heavy drinking does have extensive and far-reaching effects on the brain, ranging from simple “slips” in memory to permanent and debilitating conditions that require lifetime custodial care. No matter what though, alcohol is damaging to our brains more than many might realize.
How Does Drinking Affect Our Brains?
There are short-term and there are long-term affects on the brain. It can also stem from the type of lifestyle you currently live, family history with alcoholism, physiological disorders, societal pressures and so much more. Below is a list of common disorders that drinking affects our brain.
Blackouts And Memory Lapses
- Typically, alcohol can produce detectable impairments in memory only after a few drinks and as that amount increases, so does the degree of impairment. When you consume large quantities of alcohol and on an empty stomach, it can usually result in a blackout. This is a period of time where a person cannot recall key details in event, or even the entirety of an event. This can be a consequence of acute intoxication regardless of age or whether the person drinking is clinically dependent on alcohol. Those who are also not used to drinking are more prone to experiencing these blackouts. Overall, blackouts are caused by drinking too much too quickly, which causes their blood alcohol levels to rise very rapidly.
Women Are More Vulnerable To Brain Damage
- Studies have compared that of men and women’s sensitivity to alcohol-induced brain damage. By using imaging with computerized tomography, two studies compared brain shrinkage (which is a common indicator of brain damage) in alcoholic men and women and reported that male and female alcoholics both showed significantly greater brain shrinkage than control subjects. These studies also showed that both men and women have similar learning and memory problems as a result of heavy drinking. The difference is that women reported that they had been drinking excessively for only about half as long as the alcoholic men in these studies.
Brain Damage & Other Causes
- Those individuals who have shown to drink large amounts of alcohol for longer periods of time have a higher risk of developing serious and persistent change in the brain. The damages may be a direct result of alcohol or may result indirectly from general poor health or severe liver disease. This could lead to conditions such as Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, which is paralysis of the nerves that move the eyes and difficulty with muscle coordination.
- Alcohol and the developing brain can be big indicators as well. Drinking during pregnancy can lead to a range of physical, learning, and behavioral effects in the developing brain. The most serious of which is a collection of symptoms known as fetal alcohol syndrome.