The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism confirms that alcohol consumption in any amount has damaging effects on the brain and the body. The institute also confirms that the damaging effects can persist long after an alcoholic achieves sobriety. What is obvious is that people who consistently engage in heavy drinking are at a far greater risk of permanently damaging their bodies and their minds. The long-term effects of alcohol abuse also reach farther than the body and the mind, but it also affects people whose lives are impacted by someone who abuses alcohol. Here are four negative effects that alcohol has on the mind alone:
Short-Term Memory Loss/Blackouts
A person who consumes large quantities of alcohol over a short period of time may suffer from an alcoholic blackout. The term blackout refers to a person who cannot recall the details of events while they were drinking. Often times a person who is engaging in heavy drinking may not recall or have no memory of longer stretches of time.
Studies show that people who consistently consume alcohol for long periods of time run the risk of developing brain damage. Also known as ‘wet brain’, people who suffer from this condition cannot think cognitively and are unable to develop rational thoughts. Prolonged use of alcohol affects the brain’s communication pathways causing people to lose their balance and coordination and causes volatile mood swings.
Shrinking Brain Tissue
According to the Institute, consuming alcohol in large quantities can cause brain tissue to shrink. Heavy alcohol consumption affects the brain’s neurotransmitters and neurons and over time causes a reduction in brain mass and a loss of brain cells. The shrinking brain tissue and loss of brain cells affects motor coordination, learning and memory.
Other Common Alcohol-Related Brain Conditions
Consuming alcohol in any amount can cause several short-term problems. Alcohol consumption can cause very common problems such as sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression and shortened attention spans. Alcohol also causes a condition known as asterixis where a person’s hands constantly shake and flap. Studies also suggest that consuming alcohol in any amount can affect a person’s vision, hearing and speech.
It is unclear if damage to the brain caused by alcohol consumption is reversible. However, there are signs that abstaining from alcohol for several months to a year may partially reverse some of the damage. Some people have shown an improvement in their memory, attention span and problem-solving skills. Many treatment facilities, such as Sober Living Outpatient, work with those who are in the early stages of alcohol abstinence and teach them how to develop coping skills while their motor skills gradually improve. If you are currently struggling with an addiction to alcohol be sure to seek help as soon as you can.