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How alcohol abuse affects your brain Ohio State Medical Center

Alcohol is a drug, and like all drugs, it can potentially affect your brain. How alcohol affects your brain can change over time, depending on how much you drink, how long you’ve been drinking, and other factors. So, if you’re concerned about how alcohol affects your health, here are some ways drinking might impact your brain. The brain's hippocampus region—which helps create new memories—is also affected https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/can-you-moderate-your-drinking/ by alcohol, which contributes to blackouts and short-term memory lapses while drinking. According to a 2020 review in the journal Alcohol Research, men and women experience alcohol-induced blackouts at equal rates, even though women tend to drink less often and less heavily than men. At the beginning of the study in 1985, all of the participants were healthy and none were dependent on alcohol.

While studies show this to be true, this is probably not a good enough reason to have a drink every day since there are also many other precautions you can make in your diet that can be preventative for heart issues. But if you have a response to alcohol that's noticeably different from other people's, it may be time to reexamine your relationship with drinking, advised Pagano. "If you can drink other people under the table, or you see your friends leaving alcohol in their glasses and you know you could never do that yourself, those are signals you've got a genetic setup for developing an addiction," said Pagano. "You might hear the classic term 'wet brain,' and that's a real thing," said Pagano. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), "wet brain" is technically known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, and it's a type of dementia caused by a deficiency of thiamine, or vitamin B1, in the brain.

Severe Abuse of Alcohol and the Brain

This results in the binge drinker feeling depressed, miserable and exhausted after a night of over consumption. The study indicates that heavy alcohol use, as well as other alcohol use disorders, is an important risk factor for dementia, which can shorten lives by up to 20 years – with dementia as the leading cause of death. Even though moderate drinking may be safe for many people, there are still risks. Moderate drinking can raise the risk of death from certain cancers and heart diseases.

  • The researchers found that people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) had less brain matter than people without AUD.
  • Drinking alcohol grew into a socially acceptable activity in multiple societies, starting in the Neolithic period.
  • This process usually occurs with a BAC of 0.16 percent, or higher, and depends on other factors, such as how quickly the person can drink or if they drink on an empty stomach.
  • For example, underage drinking in Europe, where consuming wine and other alcoholic beverages is permitted at younger ages than in the U.S. and assumed to be more ingrained in the culture, is just as dangerous as it is in the U.S.
  • Yet unlike many other drugs, alcohol interacts with multiple systems in the brain at the same time–and this is the secret of its powers.
  • WKS is a brain disorder caused by a thiamine deficiency, or lack of vitamin B-1.

If alcohol was an army general plotting a way to take over your brain, it could not have picked a more strategic plan. GABA and glutamate affect the function of the entire central nervous system (including vital life functions and your ability to think), and dopamine causes you to like the substance that’s causing these dangerous effects. Even if you ignore alcohol’s effect on the other major organs in your body, it’s still a pretty thorough takeover. Along with the hormone changes that alcohol triggers, that can keep your body from building new bone.

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol

WKS is a brain disorder caused by a thiamine deficiency, or lack of vitamin B-1. Taking certain vitamins and magnesium, along with not drinking is alcohol use disorder a mental illness alcohol, may improve your symptoms. Ample research has examined the link between drinking and brain health, with ambiguous results.

How Alcohol Affects the Brain

Drinking to avoid feeling bad leads to higher and higher levels of consumption, which can cause greater damage to the brain and the rest of the body. Alcohol kills cells and damages cellular networks in the brain, for example, and it's not entirely clear to what extent they can grow back. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines heavy drinking for women as consuming eight or more drinks per week and for men as consuming 15 or more drinks per week. However, drinking more than the recommended amount of alcohol can lead to heart problems.

Related Health Topics

A 2018 study that followed 9,087 participants for 23 years found that people who did not drink alcohol in midlife were more likely to develop dementia. Dementia risk was lowest among those who consumed 14 or fewer units of alcohol per week. Occasional drinkers are those who might have a drink or two every so often, usually when out with friends or for a special occasion.

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