Alcohol’s Long-Term Effects on the Brain
How Long Term Alcohol Abuse Affects the Brain
Alcohol abuse impacts the lives of millions of Americans and the long-term effects that it has within a person and their brain functioning causing significant long-term effects and damages. Within the short-term effects, alcohol affects a person’s memory, judgment or decision making skills and motor skill functioning. Long term alcohol abuse has been linked to various disorders of the brain including dementia, learning deficits, mental health and behavioral disorders, and cognitive functioning. The longer that your heavy alcohol abuse continues, the more permanent damage you can cause, however, there is hope to reverse the damage done by becoming abstinent from alcohol.
Alcohol’s Effects on Dopamine
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for feeling pleasure and the reward circuit within the brain. When you consume alcohol, it puts your dopamine into overdrive creating a strong urge to repeat the behavior of drinking alcohol that is producing high levels of enjoyment and pleasure. This creates a cycle of alcohol addiction as the longer you engage in alcohol abuse the more your brain becomes accustomed to the high levels of dopamine present and will start to produce less dopamine naturally. Once your brain is producing less dopamine, your cravings and urges for alcohol will significantly increase and your tolerance for alcohol will continue to increase.
Parts of The Brain Affected By Alcohol
The brain is responsible for all of the body’s vital functioning and organs. When you drink alcohol the alcoholic brain is affected throughout the different parts of the brain including:
- Cerebral cortex- This area of the brain that is responsible for processing information and making decisions. Alcohol abuse will decrease your thought processes. Impair your decision-making abilities, and lowering inhibitions
- Cerebellum- Responsible for movement, coordination, and balance. Alcohol creates side effects of tremors, shakes, unsteadiness, and, in some cases, causing people to fall down.
- Hypothalamus and pituitary- Responsible for hormonal processes and internal balance within your body. Alcohol will depress these functions causing decrease in sexual desire and sexual performance.
- Hippocampus- The area of the brain responsible for memory. Drinking alcohol causes individuals to experience blackouts, memory loss, dementia, and decreased capacity to learn.
- Medulla- Responsible for autonomic responses and actions such as breathing, regulated body temperature, and consciousness. The use of alcohol impacts a person’s vital functioning as it depresses the central nervous system causing side effects of respiratory challenges, sleepiness, and coma. These symptoms can become life threatening if not monitored by medical professionals.
- Central nervous system- Consists of the spinal cord, nerves, and brain functioning. Alcohol impacts the ability for these systems to connect and send messages to one another and impact a person’s ability to talk, think, and generally move.
The Risk of Alcohol Overdose
Most alcohol related overdose deaths are a result of binge drinking rather than long term alcohol abuse. Binge drinking is characterized by excessive alcohol consumption within a small window of time. The sudden influx of alcohol within your body is what poses a significant risk to your overall physical safety and wellbeing as it can cause a toxic build up within the body. The more heavy alcohol consumption is, the harder it is for your body to process, causing dangerous side effects such as irregular heartbeat, slowed or stopped breathing,extremely low body temperatures, seizures, hypothermia, and unconsciousness.
The Brain After Quitting Alcohol
During your alcohol withdrawal stage, your brain will begin to adjust to functioning without the influence of consuming alcohol. This means that your brain will begin to relearn how to have normal amounts of dopamine be released without having the influence of substance abuse affecting the dopamine production. There will also be a period of experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms as neurotransmitters are released that produce feelings of stress and anxiety while also producing physical alcohol withdrawal symptoms that can create life threatening symptoms if not treated and monitored by medical professionals. Having the support and consistent supervision of medical professionals will ensure that you are given the proper support and medical protocols to keep you physically and emotionally safe throughout your alcohol withdrawal process. The longer you have in alcohol addiction recovery, the more your brain will be able to heal from the damages created through alcohol abuse, allowing you to return to normal, healthy brain functioning.
Alcohol Detox and Rehab at DayBreak
At Daybreak we offer patients a continuum of care for addiction treatments that will address your alcohol addiction while supporting you in overcoming alcohol related brain damage created. Patients are offered a full medical detox that is personalized to meet your specific needs while overcoming your chronic alcohol abuse. Once patients are able to complete their alcohol detox program, there will be opportunities to address the root causes of your alcohol addiction through various, comprehensive approaches to alcohol addiction treatment. Our addiction therapy methods will target healing from your substance abuse disorder within your body, mind, and soul.
Contact DayBreak today at (844) 695-0083 to hear more about the exceptional addiction treatment programs offered within our inpatient rehab that boasts only the best in recovery supports, holistic treatments, and amenities. We believe that healing from addiction should be honored and celebrated, and our dedicated team is committed to helping you reach your overarching goals of living a life of sober living.