Alcohol consumption is usually known and favoured for the positive feelings it induces. It provides an escape, it increases happy chemicals, it boosts confidence, and it acts as a coping strategy. Yet, through these adaptations, have you ever considered how alcohol affects the brain?
While unfortunate to consider, alcohol is a drug. Although it is legal, it is harmful, it is addictive, and it is influential if consumed above recommended guidelines. Through abusing those guidelines, short-term and long-term negative effects on the brain are common, all linked to excessive and consistent consumption of alcohol.
Unfortunately, excessive alcohol consumption is normalised in the UK. Many individuals binge drink, many individuals see alcohol as harmless, many individuals suffer from alcohol abuse, and many individuals struggle through alcoholism. Down to this, those individuals will unknowingly be causing significant damage to their brain, some reversible, and others irreversible.
From memory loss and the influence of mental health issues to cellular impairment, alcohol affects the brain in many different ways, carrying significant concerns. While innocent, by the book drinking is fine, yet uncontrolled, erratic, binge-like drinking should be avoided, down to physical and psychological harm.
Understandably, for some, that can be challenging. Those suffering from addiction, from mental health issues and from alcoholism will find it hard to control optimal levels of alcohol consumption. If you’re struggling, reach out here at Cassiobury Court, with the aim to protect your brain, its response and functionality for the future.
The effects of short-term alcohol consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption can cause some short-term effects. Apart from intoxication, high alcohol blood levels, and unbearable withdrawal symptoms showcasing themselves through a hangover, there are many negative effects on the brain, cognitive responses, and emotions.
Alcohol affects the brain for the short-term by increasing the natural formulation of dopamine. This is the favoured effect of alcohol, by boosting happiness, feelings of positivity and confidence. Yet, those feelings are artificial, can influence irresponsible behaviour, such as drink driving, and can make people feel dangerously untouchable.
Neurotransmitters in the brain can also be impacted for the short-term, by causing slow reactions, by motivating memory loss and blackouts, and by negatively impacting balance and sensory responses.
While these effects can be reversed, while they are commonly experienced for the short-term, the positive feelings of alcohol consumption will usually overtake the negative. This is down to the fact that many individuals lack awareness of how alcohol affects the brain behind the scenes. Down to this, ongoing alcohol consumption is likely, where those short-term effects can materialise into long-term damages.
This is highly concerning for those who experience pre-existing mental health issues, weaknesses in the brain-boosting the susceptibility of addiction, and those with physical and psychological health problems. If this describes your health, it’s important to understand the effects of alcohol on the brain, along with gauging safe drinking guidelines moving forward.
How alcohol affects the brain for the long-term
If alcohol consumption is uncontrolled, long-term damages are probable, carrying irreversible impacts. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause significant adaptations to functionality, to response rates, to perceptions, to cognitive health and to the risk of wet brain.
Wet brain ultimately reflects a branch of dementia, linked to memory loss, to change in persona, to changing the way that emotions and experiences are filtered. This can be life-limiting and can cause early set on death, even in younger individuals. These long-term health conditions are highly concerning, yet some of the most distressing results are linked to mental health conditions, alcohol brain damage and addiction.
Those who abuse excessive amounts of alcohol are at greater risk of mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety. As adaptations take place in the brain, as the disparity is common, the development of mental health side effects is likely, causing a dual diagnosis. This can be very difficult to live with, ultimately causing a battle between reducing alcohol brain damage and self-medicating through mental health changes.
Addiction is also a significant long-term result of excessive alcohol abuse. Once an addiction has formed, it can be very difficult to treat as the natural responses in the brain have changed or subsidies. Psychological withdrawal symptoms will be testing and unbearable, driving further alcohol consumption. Again, this is highly concerning on future quality of life, for some causing permanent damage.
Alcohol and pre-existing mental health issues
As we’ve identified above, alcohol affects the brain through short and long-term changes and damages. While all damages are concerning, there are currently worries linked to those experiencing pre-existing mental health issues.
Alcohol and anxiety, for example, are now prevalent associations. Many individuals experiencing anxiety will abuse alcohol as a coping strategy. The worry is that anxiety, alone can cause changes in the brain, can impact perceptions and quality of life, and can significantly affect emotions and behaviours. Now add in the influential status of alcohol, this can be detrimental to cognitive responses.
This is very common when considering all mental health conditions, including depression, paranoia and mood disorders. As this is a prevalent talking point, where more and more people are suffering from mental health issues, it’s vital to understand how alcohol affects the brain alone, while adding in the diagnosis of the likes of anxiety.
The main worry is that those suffering from mental health issues will believe that alcohol consumption is helping them. Down to the positive short-term effects, many individuals fail to see the fact that they are self-medicating, that they are controlling the amount of damage caused to their brain, and that they are aggravating their mental health side effects.
Down to blurred perceptions, there is a significant chance of addiction, of brain damage, of permanent mental health disparity. With this in mind, whether you’re suffering or not, understanding how alcohol affects the brain is very important. While a degree of alcohol consumption is classified as safe, even for those with a mental health condition diagnosis, personal tolerance and medical advice should be followed.
For advice on this or for support with addiction or mental health recovery, reach out today at Cassiobury Court. The sooner you do, the greater chance you’ll have at reversing the effects of alcohol on the brain.