Drinking Too Much? How Alcohol Impacts Your Brain

Drinking Too Much How Alcohol Impacts Your Brain

How Alcohol Impacts Your Brain

Although it is now a well-known fact that excessive alcohol consumption is bad for health, a vast majority of individuals are still unaware of how it can affect the brain.

Read How Alcohol Impacts Your Brain

Ignorance regarding the potential issues often leads people to drink more than they should, eventually suffering from a variety of health problems. The brain is one of the critical areas of the human body that alcohol tends to affect.

Immediate effects of intoxication

Alcohol starts to take effect on the body very quickly. Soon after consumption, the stomach lining would absorb the alcohol and send it into the bloodstream.

Within five minutes, the alcohol would reach your brain. Its effects will become noticeable in around ten minutes. These include:

  • Slower reflexes
  • Poor balance
  • Mood alterations

You would also face difficulties in thinking clearly and may have trouble remembering later on. Individuals become intoxicated upon consuming more alcohol than their bodies can metabolize. The higher the intoxication level, the stronger its effects would be.

Effects of alcohol on the brain

The whole body absorbs alcohol, which then affects many organs. However, the brain mostly takes a toll, resulting in various problems in the long run. Some of the most common effects of how alcohol impacts your brain include:

1. Dementia

In case YourDementiaTherapist advises you to lower your alcohol consumption, do not feel surprised. Alcohol can lead to a rare type of dementia known as Korsakoff’s Syndrome.

Chronic alcoholics suffer from a deficiency of thiamine/vitamin B1, directly affecting short-term memory. While temporary memory lapses are common during intoxication, they can potentially develop into a more permanent problem over time.

2. Smaller brain size

Over the years, excess volumes of alcohol consumption can start affecting the appearance and the functioning of the brain. The brain cells start morphing in shape and even grow smaller in size. Eventually, this would lower your thinking and learning abilities.

In a way, one could say that excessive alcohol consumption makes the brain outperform its functions.

3. Mental health problems

Mental health issues are extremely common among individuals addicted to alcohol consumption. These include problems that worsen significantly over time, like depression and anxiety. This ultimately leads to stark behavioral changes too. These often prove to be highly detrimental to one’s career and personal relationships.

Alcohol can cause significant damage to the brain by destroying white matter and slowing down the chemicals and pathways that transmit signals. Heavy drinkers are highly prone to permanent brain damage.

Other effects of alcohol on your health

Drinking Too Much How Alcohol Impacts Your BrainAlcohol does affect other vital organs in addition to your brain too. Some of the other common health impacts of alcohol consumption are:

1. Higher secretion of stomach acid

It is quite common to throw up after drinking more heavily than you should, and this is because alcohol stimulates your stomach to secrete more juices by irritating the stomach lining.

As stomach juices are acidic in nature, they combine with alcohol to result in nausea and vomiting. Moreover, you may lose appetite due to the excess secretion of juices too.

2. Cirrhosis

A liver disease known as cirrhosis is extremely common among chronic heavy drinkers. While the liver’s job is to break down the alcohol you drink, it also causes the organ to deal with plenty of toxins.

Over time, this can cause thick and fibrous tissue to grow and make the liver fatty. These tissues start restricting blood flow, denying the liver cells the nutrients they need. Ultimately, these cells start dying off.

3. Weaker immunity

Alcohol inhibits the creation of white blood cells, thereby preventing the immune system from functioning properly. This is the reason that individuals are more prone to illnesses for about a day after drinking.

Those who drink heavily for years have high chances of developing major illnesses, such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.

4. Damage to the pancreas

The pancreas plays a key role in metabolism by producing insulin and various other chemicals that help in breaking food down. However, alcohol can block this secretion.

The chemicals then remain within the pancreas and, together with the toxins from the booze, can result in inflammations. This can result in acute damage to the pancreas, potentially leading to diabetes or pancreatic cancer.

5. Heart problems

The human body uses various electrical signals to function systematically. Excess consumption of alcohol can affect the signals that help the heartbeat in a steady rhythm. Chronic drinking would make this a permanent problem, wearing out the heart.

The heart muscles stretch and droop, thereby losing the ability to pump blood properly.


So, when it comes to how alcohol impacts your brain, these are some of the most significant issues that long-term heavy drinkers could face. While drinking alcohol occasionally is fine, one should keep it within safe levels.

If you are still not sure, you can always consult a professional to know how much alcohol you can consume without pushing your limits.


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Drinking Too Much? How Alcohol Impacts Your Brain