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How Long-Term Alcohol Dependence Affects the Brain

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You may be aware of how alcohol affects your day-to-day – but let’s dive into how it affects your actual brain. Find out here.

You may remember the first drink of alcohol you ever had.

For many of us, it likely wasn’t a great experience (at least the end of the night).

But, for a variety of reasons, most of us also stuck with it and kept drinking.

A lost day of work here, or maybe two, are some of the short-term effects of binge drinking.

But what’s happening to your brain when you’re drinking?

Let’s find out.

The outward signs and symptoms

We’re all familiar with the signs and symptoms of intoxication:

  • Slurred speech
  • Glassy eyes
  • Trouble walking
  • Impaired balance

Those are all the immediate effects of alcohol on your brain.

In time, as your body metabolizes the alcohol, these effects diminish and disappear.

The problem is that the damage is done, and compounds the more often you drink.

Long-term damage can bring with it:

  • Permanent memory impairment
  • Collateral damage to other organs like your liver
  • Death

Not to mention the damage to your relationships or later, even holding down a job.

Which parts of your brain does it affect?

In a nutshell, all of it. No part of your brain is immune to the effects of long-term alcohol abuse.

Specific regions of your brain can be more damaged or susceptible to alcohol:

  • Limbic system -short and long term amnesiac disorders like Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome
  • Right hemisphere – impairs your ability to think in the abstract
  • Neurotransmitter systems – depression and anxiety result from drops in serotonin

Other factors

The common wisdom of men being able to drink more than women does have a basis in actual science.

Women tend to be more susceptible to memory lapses and blackouts, too.

Your age (both current and when you started drinking), your overall health and how much you drink all play a part.

Even your education and socioeconomic standing may influence your drinking.

Social, moderate, binge – what kind of drinker are you?

Alcohol consumption is in the news frequently.

Today it’s all bad for you, tomorrow a glass of red wine will save your heart.

Even dating websites offer you the ability to tell future partners about your alcohol consumption before you ever set eyes on them.

The CDC says that moderate drinking is defined as one drink a day for women, two for men.

That’s a little broad since it doesn’t say anything about consecutive days, etc.

Is your drinking affecting your health or your ability to work?

You may call yourself a social drinker, but that could be allowing you to perpetuate the problem.

The bottom line is that it may be time to take a closer look and get some help.

What can you do?

If you think that your drinking has gotten out of control, it’s time to do something about it.

Or maybe it’s someone close to you that has a drinking problem.

There are a variety of ways to get help, including outpatient and inpatient programs.

Places like Prescott House Alcohol Treatment Center can be a good place to start.

It’s not too late to get the help you or your loved ones need.

About Milton Ferrara

Milton Ferrara is a professional blogger and writer with an experience of half a decade. Known for his amazing take on conventional matters and his boldness for writing new fresh content, he has a strong presence on the web.

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