People everywhere enjoy an innocent drink from time to time, but just how innocent is alcohol? It is obvious that consuming alcohol lowers inhibitions, but what most drinkers don’t realize is that regularly sipping from the bottle can have long-term effects on the brain. Aside from the risks of alcohol poisoning, liver disease, heart disease and pancreatitis, the chances of developing a mental health problem are scarily high because alcohol causing brain disturbances.
More than 50 percent of people dealing with alcoholism will suffer from memory problems as a result of damaged brain cells. Regions of the brain that are heavily affected include:
- Cerebral cortex
- Hypothalamus and pituitary
The effects that alcohol has on a person will depend on how often that individual drinks. In fact, there are many factors that can influence the ways in which alcohol affects the brain. There is an elevated risk of memory lapse and blackouts if you:
- Began drinking at a very young age
- Were at risk of pre-natal alcohol exposure
- Drink on a daily or weekly basis
Your upbringing and genetic background will also play a role in this. As alcohol enters the blood stream, balance decreases, sexual desire increases, body temperature decreases and breathing is affected. Only 10 percent of the brain is normally used, proving that alcohol’s long-term effects on the brain are worrying.
The brain can deteriorate if you abuse alcohol regularly and studies have shown that long-term drinking can cause:
- The brain to shrink
- Brain cells to reduce
- The hippocampus and frontal lobes to decrease in size
- The brain to work harder
- B-vitamin deficiency
When alcohol travels to the synapse, which is the gap between cells in the brain, neurotransmitters will be interrupted and this interference to the function of the brain can negatively affect memory and cognition.