How Alcohol Affects the Brain
Alcohol is one of the most used drugs in America. Alcohol changes the way your brain communicates with your body. If someone drinks regularly or struggles with alcohol abuse, the brain is forced to compensate for changes to the fine-tuned balance of neurotransmitters and central nervous system chemicals made by alcohol. Cognition, memory, and mental health can be affected. Getting drunk or intoxicated disrupts motor coordination, slows reaction times, aids in confusion, and deteriorates the ability to make decisions.
Excessive alcohol consumption can result in an alcohol overdose, sometimes known as alcohol poisoning, a potentially deadly condition that includes:
- Losing consciousness
- Slow heart rate
- Suppressed breathing
- Permanent brain damage
Drinking alcohol consistently, especially binge drinking or heavy drinking, may result in developing a substance use disorder or alcohol addiction.
Long Term Effects of Alcohol on the Brain
Over time, heavy consumption of alcohol can become a compulsion, taking over aspects of your life. Alcohol use disorder, also known as alcoholism, is a brain disease without a cure. Alcoholism can be managed. Long-term drinking can also cause:
- Serious heart problems
- Liver disease
- Digestive system issues
- Weakened immune system
- Disruption of sleep patterns
- Development or exacerbation of mental health issues
- Disruptions in mood and sociability
Alcohol abuse can also cause a shrinking of the hippocampus, which is a region of the brain responsible for learning and memory. This can lead to long-term cognitive impairment, learning problems, and dementia.
Can Alcohol Cause Permanent Brain Damage?
Depending on the amount and time of alcohol addiction, alcohol-related brain damage may be temporary and revert back to normal after alcohol detox. A long period of drug and alcohol abuse, a large amount at once, or any use during certain phases of brain development, can cause serious brain damage to occur. These can include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (“wet brain”)
- Brain atrophy (brain shrinkage)
- Cognitive impairment
- Changes to white matter and loss of gray matter
- Anhedonia (inability to feel pleasure)
- Hypoxic brain injury (shortage of oxygen to the brain)
- Memory loss
- Slow reactions
- Reduced motor skills
- Hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (experiencing “flashbacks” and visual hallucinations)
Long-term and short-term drug use may also result in overdose, or a person taking unnecessary risks while intoxicated, and neglecting other aspects of their health. Through a medically supervised detox program, followed by integrated rehabilitation, you can stop using drugs and alcohol safely, regaining control over your life and ensuring your brain remains healthy.
Healing the Brain After Alcohol Abuse
Human brains and bodies are very adaptable. Though every person will have a unique detox and rehab experience, seeking treatment for drug and alcohol abuse as soon as possible will increase the chance of making a partial or full recovery from drug-induced brain injury. Some changes may be persistent or permanent, but many neurological complications could reverse in some cases. People in recovery have reported that their cognition improves with the duration of abstinence. Clinical and experimental research of alcoholism shows evidence of sober living and abstinence improving brain function, metabolism, and volume. The longer the abstinence, the greater the chances of maintaining a healthy recovery from addiction.
Alcohol Rehab at Serenity Oaks
Going through alcohol detox will be a tough trial both physically and mentally. At Serenity Oaks Wellness, we try to make your detoxification treatment as comfortable and easy as possible. Serenity Oaks Wellness Center believes an integrated approach treating your body’s medical and psychological health needs offers the best chance of success and relapse prevention.
With our patient, committed, and compassionate therapists and staff standing by you throughout your recovery process, we can help you face and overcome the psychological aspects of your drug and alcohol use. Healing underlying psychological concerns which alcohol use has masked — and equipping you with tools to avoid use and opt for healthier alternatives in the future — help ensure a lasting sobriety. We hope you will choose Serenity Oaks Wellness Center as your guide and friend on your journey to wellness. Get in touch with us today at (833) 720-0708.