How Alcohol Impacts the Brain

How Alcohol Impacts the Brain

While there’s nothing wrong with having a drink from time to time, repeated overindulgence on alcohol can come with some serious consequences. 

There are the potential legal ramifications for one, says Boulder felony DUI lawyer Moorhead Law Group, and these are something that almost everyone can predict.

Did you know, however, that alcohol can have direct impacts on how your brain works? That’s what we’re going to explore today, as we delve into the short and long-term effects that consuming large quantities of alcohol might have on your mind.

Your Brain on Alcohol

Almost everyone who has enjoyed a drink before can describe some of the immediate effects alcohol had on them — a change in mood, a bit more difficulty moving around, etc. What you may not have known, however, was how alcohol was interacting with your brain. 

When you take a drink, the alcohol contained therein increases the activity of an inhibitory neurotransmitter within your brain known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This, in turn, is what causes your reflexes to slow and your mood to change.

Euphoria is usually the first thing you experience, on account of the release of dopamine triggered by drinking alcohol. You’ll feel relaxed, with only minor impacts to your memory and reasoning abilities. As your blood alcohol content (BAC) increases, though, you’ll descend through a number of increasingly worrisome stages:

  • BAC above 0.05: Depression, memory loss, impaired motor function, disorientation.
  • BAC between 0.09 and 0.17: You’re intoxicated, slurring your words and less capable of controlling your actions.
  • BAC between 0.18 and 0.24: Further motor impairment, confusion, and even blackouts.
  • BAC between 0.25 and 0.3: You’re on the verge of alcohol poisoning and, for all intents and purposes in a drunken stupor.
  • BAC of 0.35: By this point, you’re likely in a coma.
  • BAC of 0.45 or above: For most, a BAC in this range is death by alcohol poisoning.

And this isn’t even speaking on the long-term effects alcohol can have on the brain. Continually abusing alcohol can cause changes in the neurotransmitter activity your brain exhibits, and may even cause parts of your brain to atrophy. This all adversely affects your mood, memory, balance, and ability to function as a healthy adult.

Use Alcohol in Moderation

It’s clear that alcohol abuse is no good for your brain, but in moderation, it can actually confer some health benefits. Light-moderate drinkers are often at a lower risk for heart attacks and strokes, along with gallstones and even diabetes.

So, enjoy that glass, but make sure you keep your drinking in check, or else it will have some serious negative impacts that you won’t be able to easily reverse.