yes, therapy helps!
These are the 9 effects that alcohol has on the brain in the short and long term

These are the 9 effects that alcohol has on the brain in the short and long term

March 25, 2024

Due to the large number of functions and the sensitivity of this to changes, the brain is one of the body organs most affected by alcohol consumption. This consumption is capable of altering any brain function, including reasoning, emotions and judgment.

Although each person tolerates this substance of different foemas There are a number of effects of alcohol on the brain that all people experience to a greater or lesser extent . The following will explain what these effects are and their severity.

  • You may be interested: "Drinking alcohol during adolescence modifies the brain"

Individual differences in the effects of alcohol

It is more than known that the consumption of alcohol, both occasional and recurrent, can cause numerous effects on the brain. When this consumption is excessive, due to problems of alcoholism, this can lead to irreversible damage to the brain.

However, even if there are common patterns, the consequences derived from the consumption of alcohol are not the same for all people; There are considerable differences according to age, sex or weight.

Here are a number of factors that determine both the way in which alcohol affects the brain:

  • Assiduity with which the person consumes alcohol .
  • Age at which he started in alcohol consumption and duration of consumption.
  • Current age of the person.
  • Level of education
  • Sex.
  • Genetic background .
  • Family history of alcoholism.
  • Prenatal exposure to alcohol.
  • State of health at a general level .
  • Effects of alcohol in the short and long term.

Alcohol has the capacity to begin to generate effects on the organism, however slight they may be, from the first drink. All these effects that it causes in the short term intensify and conserve over time as consumption becomes more and more frequent.

Effects of alcohol on the brain in the short term

The first effects that a person who has consumed alcohol at any dose may experience include motor disturbances, difficulty walking, slow reaction times or diffuse speech.

Also, there are a series of more serious consequences that appear between the first moments of alcohol consumption until past hours or even days after their intake. These effects are the following.

1. Emotional changes

The consumption of alcohol leads to a series of imbalances in brain chemistry that affect both behavior, thoughts, feelings and emotions . These disturbances in brain chemistry favor the appearance of emotional changes such as anxiety, depression or aggression.

Although traditionally, people have used alcohol as a means to disinhibit, to feel relaxed or even to be more sociable and extroverted; Excessive alcohol intake tends to transform these emotions into anxiety, aggression and sadness or short-term depression.

  • Maybe you're interested: "Differences between emotions and feelings"

2. Memory lapses

The ingestion of alcohol can produce small deteriorations in the hippocampus. This deterioration manifests itself through lapses in memory, which can only be presented a few hours after having consumed small amounts of alcohol .

However, when it is ingested in large quantities, on an empty stomach and in short periods of time the person may experience forgetting longer intervals of time or even complete events.

3. Loss of knowledge

Syncopes or loss of consciousness for short periods of time are common in people who drink large amounts of alcohol very quickly. This rapid intake means that blood alcohol levels increase dramatically, causing fainting and knowledge losses.

4. Impulsivity

Consume alcohol in both small and large doses, can interfere with the connections of the prefrontal cortex of the brain . This area is responsible for mediating the impulsivity of the person, as well as the organization of their behavior.

When the levels of alcohol in blood begin to increase the person is likely to experience impulsive behaviors that surely would never have taken place in conditions of sobriety.

However, like the changes in aggression, these alterations also depend on the predisposition or character of the person . That is to say, a person who tends to be aggressive or impulsive in normal situations will be much more susceptible to suffer these effects, or will experience them with greater intensity, than a person who tends to be calm.

  • You may be interested: "Prefrontal cortex: associated functions and disorders"

Long-term effects

As discussed above, any of the effects of alcohol in the long term can be maintained in time when consumption goes from being punctual to recurrent. Some of these long-term effects are the following.

1. Development of emotional disorders

Excessive alcohol consumption is closely related to certain illnesses and emotional disorders such as depression or anxiety.

This is due to the frequent drinking of alcoholic beverages alters brain serotonin levels , specifically tends to decrease them. The decrease in the levels of this neurotransmitter responsible for regulating the mood favors the appearance of all kinds of emotional disorders in the person.

  • Related article: "Serotonin: 6 effects of this hormone in your body and mind"

2. Limits brain development in adolescents

Increasingly habitual consumption at early ages, especially during adolescence. This consumption that is carried out in a social way can end up interfering in the correct brain development of young people.

As a result of these variations, the adolescent can develop transcendental deficits in the recovery of verbal and nonverbal information and visuospatial functioning.

Also, given that during this stage the brain is not fully developed, adolescents who drink alcohol are much more exposed when they develop learning and memory difficulties.

3. Destruction of neurons

In addition to the brake of brain development during adolescence, alcohol consumption also affects neuronal development in adulthood.

During this stage, the consumption of high doses of alcohol prevents the growth of new cells and reduces the number of brain neurons in certain areas of the brain. However, these damages are more visible in specific areas of these nerve cells: the axons, extensions that form the wiring of the nervous system .

4. Damage to the hippocampus

As described above, the destruction of neurons can lead to serious deterioration in the hippocampus. This brain region is responsible for intervening in memory storage, so a series of frequent drunkenness or an addiction to alcohol can permanently damage the brain, altering the ability to memorize.

This deficit in memory storage can be conserved even after the addiction to alcohol has been overcome.

  • Related article: "Hippocampus: functions and structure of the organ of memory"

5. Psychosis

An extreme addiction to alcohol can generate a state or disorder of psychosis in people, which experience all kinds of hallucinations, paranoia and illusions .

Also, if a person with a long history of alcoholism abruptly interrupts the consumption of alcohol can develop an alcohol withdrawal syndrome, also known as "delirium tremens."

This syndrome causes a hyperstimulation of the adrenergic system, causing headache, constant agitation, body tremors, nausea and vomiting , hallucinations and even death.

6. Wernike-Korsakoff syndrome

Alcohol addiction causes, in 80% of cases, a deficiency of vitamin B1 or thiamin . This decrease in thiamine levels is a risk factor when developing Wernike-Korsakoff syndrome.

This condition is different because the person has Wernike encephalopathy and a known Korsakoff syndrome. Both diseases have their origin in the lack of this vitamin.

Alcohol | What Are The Health Effects? | (March 2024).

Similar Articles