On rare occasions would one find someone who doesn’t take alcohol, either regularly or once in a while during festive events or has never taken alcohol before. The culture of taking alcohol during celebrations isn’t limited to a cultural group and has been around for many years. Several reports have even shown that over 86% of people of ages 18 and older have taken alcohol at one point or the other in their lives. This is to show how common alcohol intake is. Even though it is a common drink, alcohol intake still has its effects on the body, particularly the brain, especially when taken in excessive amounts.
The Immediate Effect of Alcohol on the Brain
After gulping that glass of alcohol, do you ever wonder what effect it has on the body? Once ingested, alcohol usually enters your bloodstream through the stomach; after that, circulates the body, taking just five minutes to get to the brain and ten minutes to start its effects on the brain.
The more concentration and volume of alcohol taken, the more the concentration of alcohol that gets to the brain and of course, the effects thereof. Alcohol affects the brain’s chemistry called neurotransmitters, ultimately the brain communications and the way the brain understands and executes information.
The Stages of Effect of Alcohol
The effects of alcohol on the brain can be grouped into different stages depending on the level of alcohol taken.
At the first use of alcohol, one starts to feel ecstatic, that feeling of warmth and fuzziness. It is due to the increased release of dopamine in the brain reward center, thereby creating that pleasurable and relaxed feeling and sensation.
Also at this point, alcohol lowers the inhibition centers of the brain and impairs judgment making the individuals develop minor impairment of reasoning and memory, the reason why you can drive your car recklessly and engage in unprotected sexual intercourse with someone you are meeting for the first time without a second thought.
Then after experiencing all the above feelings, you take a gulp more of alcohol till you start feeling depressed, disoriented with a real sense of memory loss and short term memory lapses. This is practically the stage two of the effects of alcohol on the brain. A point where the ecstatic feeling or euphoria turns into depression.
Then the feeling of dizziness and staggering while walking, double vision, or even blurring of vision. Many anatomical structures of the body had been implicated in this stage which includes the cerebellum which controls balance, the cerebral cortex responsible for taking on new information and hippocampus area which helps create new memories.
Then more alcohol intake, and an individual goes into stupor where all mental activities, physical and sensory abilities of the patient are impaired. Could then result in coma where the person’s respiration gets compromised.
If more alcohol is taken, the person may later go into the acute stage of alcohol poisoning, where the brain fails to control the body’s essential functions and ultimately leads to death.
The Long Term Effects of Alcohol on the Brain
Constant use of alcohol, mainly result in binge drinking, which can later lead to public embarrassment, body or psychological injuries like depression, etc. Poor decisions that have long term consequences like having children outside wedlock or getting jailed due to some nasty actions taken while intoxicated with alcohol could arise from overuse of alcohol.
It may also later lead to tolerance when the person feels the need to take more alcohol to get the same reward he was initially deriving from taking alcohol, this may then lower brain links and shrink the person’s brain volume as shown by a study in the Archives of Neurology.
In summary, Alcohol intake initially may have a positive reinforcing effect on the body, but over time its effects are dangerous and debilitating, especially with prolonged and consistent alcohol use.