Alcohol’s Effect on the Brain

Alcohol’s Effect on the Brain


In the short term, alcohol can have some seemingly paradoxical effects. Although alcohol is a depressant, some people get silly. Some may consider this goofiness a positive thing, but we have to look at farther reaching consequences.

Immediate Reactions

We have all witnessed outward signs of heavy drinking. Those under the influence lose their balance and begin to stumble. Words come out in a jumble. Oftentimes, stories get repeated because the person does not recall having told them already. These aspects are all physical signs of what alcohol does to a person’s brain.

Alcohol works upon inhibitory neurotransmitters. In layman’s terms, these are signals your brain transmits through your body to get across a message. Slurred speech and sluggish movements are caused by the increase of activity in inhibitory neurotransmitters. Due to its nature as a depressant, alcohol also inhibits excitatory neurotransmitters. The suppression of stimulants works hand in hand with the increase of inhibitory neurotransmitters to further slow the brain activity of an individual under the influence of alcohol.

The seemingly paradoxical goofiness is caused by the increased dopamine levels in the brain’s reward center. The body will think that it is doing something great, but this can lead to later depression. The dopamine levels will return to a normal level but it might seem like something is missing.

The Long Term

The journal Cortex has published research suggesting that alcohol has a lasting impact upon the brain. Excessive alcohol use causes irreparable brain damage. This contributes to difficulty with memory and possible loss of coordination. Other long term damage can occur in other parts of the body including, but not limited to, the kidneys and liver.

Protect Your Brain

The brain is an individual’s most valuable aspect. It is the key player in a functioning body: the brain sends messages to parts of the body to make sure everything is doing its job. Damage may happen along the way, but one should protect the brain when it can. In other words, maintain a healthy lifestyle to prevent unnecessary damage to important attributes.