The damaging effects of alcohol are not to be underestimated. Whilst many of us love a beer, a little wine, or a bit of spirit at a social gathering or at home, the effects on your body are no laughing matter.
If you have found yourself reliant on alcohol at any point in your life, you will know just how bad it can be on your body if not kept in check.
Your appetite starts changing, usually not for the better, everything feels tense, both metaphorically and physically, as well as changes to your libido and damage to your liver.
Becoming addicted to alcohol has some serious long-term consequences for your body.
And, if that wasn’t enough, the same thing seems to be true for your brain as well. Whilst we have all felt the effects of a particularly bad hangover at some point in our lives, alcohol addiction can have some incredibly serious and detrimental effects on your health over time.
These effects can build up until the human brain suffers quite a serious brain damage.
Ideally, the best way to avoid these consequences is to not get addicted in the first place. However, for those of us who know that terrible journey to be a very slippy slope, or for those people who are unfortunately already, that isn’t exactly helpful advice.
In these cases, many people want to know whether or not they will be able to recover from that long-term damage to the most important organ in the human body.
Well, that is what we are going to discuss here. In this guide, we are going to discuss what effects alcohol has on the brain, both in the short and long term, as well as how things can get that bad in the first place, We’ll also discuss how much of that damage, if any, can be reversed after quitting alcohol, whether it will heal naturally, or if it needs professional help from specialists.
Why Is Alcohol So Addictive?
Before we go any further, it may be helpful to understand how people get into the position where alcohol-related brain damage is a serious issue.
This is often one of the last stops on the long and painful road of alcohol addiction.
When alcohol is consumed by a person, the experience releases dopamine and other endorphins into the brain, giving the drinker a strong pleasurable sensation.
This is very similar to the effect that cigarettes and nicotine have on your brain.
And like nicotine’s effects on your brain, your neurotransmitters, and other gray matter start becoming resistant to its effects, meaning that you need more and more alcohol to achieve the same high.
At the same time, your brain also starts becoming dependent on the dopamine rush to function normally.
This creates a terrible effect where you start to need alcohol just to function, and it doesn’t even function as well as you spiral further and further into addiction.
As you can imagine, and might even know, it takes a lot to break this cycle, and it’s a cycle that claims almost 100,000 lives in the US every year.
The Effects Of Alcohol-Related Brain Damage
So, with the basics out of the way, what exactly are the effects of alcohol-related brain damage, once it has gotten to this point?
Well, that can differ for many people, depending on what type of alcohol-related damage you have sustained.
There are generally two types of brain injury you can sustain from alcohol: There is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS), and External damage caused by other sources.
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome WKS
WKS refers to a family of different effects that alcohol can have on the brain. People who have substance abuse issues with alcohol tend to be less able to absorb vitamins and other nutrients into their brain as effectively, which can lead to the brain struggling to receive the fuel it needs to create more brain cells. Some of the symptoms of this damage are:
- Lack of concentration
- Eye-muscle paralysis
- Inability to intake new information
- Less fine muscle coordination
- Loos of Memory.
In time, many of these effects can result in the person developing forms of dementia, as the damage to the brain builds up over time, and brain cells die from lack of nutrition.
Despite what it may sound like, brain damage from this method doesn’t simply result from receiving external injuries, although that is certainly a possibility.
Over time, like the rest of your body also starts to absorb too much alcohol, they can start affecting your brain as well.
Alcoholic hepatitis from your liver can affect your brain in a massive number of ways, such as:
- Heightened levels of anxiety or stress.
- A reduced attention span
- Loss of finer motor functions, which can manifest in symptoms such as shaky hands.
- Lack of coordination.
- A noticeable change in your moods.
And this isn’t even discussing the effects of alcoholism whilst a person is pregnant. Mothers who suffer from alcohol addiction during pregnancy run the risk of giving their children several disorders, such as lower IQs and learning difficulties.
Can This Damage Be Reversed?
So, can any of this damage be reversed over time?
Well, that largely depends on how severe the drinking habits were. Less severe alcohol addiction (see also ‘Best Alcohol Addiction Treatment Centers In America‘) or short timeframes usually allow the brain functions more time to heal, as the damage is less severe.
For people suffering from long-term alcoholic brain injuries, there are no known cures.
However, keeping yourself well-nourished, as well as taking health and vitamin supplements can mitigate some of the worst effects, and may allow for the brain to reach some level of stability, with maybe more brain development possible as the patient’s condition improves.
As you can see, the effects of alcohol and incredibly dangerous. But with enough time from it, and the right help, you can start to mend the damage done to it.