Mental Side Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Most people are aware of the physical effects of heavy drinking including liver disease and diabetes, however regular heavy drinking may also lead to mental health conditions. Although some people may use alcohol as a way to cope with mental health issues including stress and to feel relaxed, it can actually negatively affect feelings, thoughts, and actions and contribute to the development or worsening of mental health conditions.
How Alcohol Affects Your Brain
Alcohol impacts your brain in several ways. First of all, it blocks chemical signals between neurons which lead to feelings of intoxication, slurred speech, poor memory, and slowed reflexes. Drinking alcohol affects the reward system of the brain causing the brain to associate alcohol consumption with pleasure and will want more of it. Over time with continued alcohol misuse, the brain gets used to these blocked signals and responds with over exaggerated responses to keep working properly, which leads to physical dependence. When a person has developed alcohol dependence, they will experience alcohol withdrawal and cravings when they stop drinking. The person is now at risk for developing alcohol use disorders in which they cannot limit or control their alcohol consumption.
Short Term Mental Side Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Heavy drinking that leads to intoxication is a result of short-term effects on the nervous system. Mild symptoms of alcohol intoxication include some cognitive and physical impairment while severe symptoms can lead to alcohol overdose or alcohol poisoning which can cause someone to stop breathing. Some short term mental effects of alcohol include:
- Agitation and aggression
- Impaired impulse control
- Impaired decision making
- Impaired cognitive ability
- Impaired judgment
- Depression and anxiety
- Suicidal ideation
- Reduced inhibitions
- Mood swings
- Memory loss
Long Term Mental Side Effects of Alcohol Abuse
Several physical health effects occur in those who continue alcohol misuse over long periods of time including liver, heart, and digestive problems. Negative impact of alcohol over a long period of time can cause mood and sleep disturbances and development of other mental health issues including depression and anxiety. Alcohol will act on several areas of the brain and continued heavy alcohol consumption can lead to permanent, irreversible brain damage.
Some long term psychological effects of alcohol on the brain include:
- Increased chance of developing alcohol use disorders.
- Increased risk of developing mental health conditions such as anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, depressive disorders, and risk of suicide.
- Increased risk of memory problems.
- Impaired cognitive ability due to brain tissue damage.
- Risk of developing Wernicke-Korsakoff’s syndrome, also known as wet brain and is a lifelong debilitating brain disease.
Can Mental Side Effects of Alcohol be Reversed?
For the most part, changes in the brain due to alcohol misuse are primarily cells changing in size. Once a person has stopped drinking, these cells return to their normal size and can reverse some alcohol-related brain damage, including psychological effects. Different areas of the brain will recover at different rates. Improvement of motor skills and cognitive ability do recover after cessation of drinking. Psychological effects of drinking alcohol such as bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety, can be successfully treated through dual diagnosis treatment. However, sometimes not all mental health effects of alcohol can be reversed.
Alcohol Rehab and Mental Health Treatment at DayBreak
DayBreak Treatment solutions offers alcohol addiction treatment through comprehensive treatment programs aimed at addressing all areas of addiction. Our treatment plans can include dual diagnosis treatment for those who are struggling with co-occurring disorders like anxiety disorders and depressive disorders caused by alcohol addiction. We provide all levels of care from alcohol detox to inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction, now is the time to get help before the effects of alcohol on the brain become irreversible. Please call us today at (844) 695-0083 to learn more about our admissions process.