In last week’s post we looked at how combining alcohol with prescription medications can be dangerous, but alcohol alone poses its own risks. We know, for example that combining alcohol and driving can be a lethal combination on our roads – and hurt you financially and in other ways if you get caught by alcohol testing. We also know that it can be damaging to our bodies.
However, what you might not know is that alcohol can have significant implications to our brains, with a VicHealth website article highlighting that nearly every part of our brain is negatively impacted.
Even moderate amounts of alcohol can impact the brain
It’s wise to point out that when we’re talking about alcohol negatively affecting our brains, it’s not just getting drunk and binge drinking that causes issues. Even moderate amounts of alcohol can have short and long-term impacts.
This is according to an article on the VicHealth website, which states that, “No matter how little or how much you drink, alcohol effects our whole brain matter, causing both short and long-term effects. Brain matter is a major component of our central nervous system and when negatively impacted, it can have various short and long-term implications.
Short term impacts can include:
- Interrupted sleep
- Slowing down of your body and changes to the chemical makeup in your brain
- Alterations in mood, energy levels, concentration and memory
- Impairments of our judgement and movement
- Slurred speech, nausea, and vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- If significant quantities are consumed, coma or death
Long-term impacts can include:
- Ongoing mental health conditions
- An increased risk of diabetes and weight gain
- Increased risk of many cancers
- Heart issues
- Liver failure
- Brain related damage impairment (ARBI – see below)
- Fertility issues
As mentioned, while even moderate drinking can have a negative impact, the more a person consumes in general the more dramatic the impacts can be. The recommendation for adults is to consume no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 standard drinks per day to reduce the health risks from alcohol.
Alcohol can damage your brain
What is alcohol related brain impairment (ARBI) mentioned above?
In essence this is when alcohol’s toxicity causes a significant brain injury. While it is more likely to occur if a person drinks heavily on an ongoing basis over a long period, ARBI can happen over a shorter time frame, particularly when a person drinks a lot of alcohol in a single session on a semi regular basis.
Note that alcohol doesn’t kill brain cells, as the myth would have you suggest. However, it does damage the ends of neurons called dendrites, making it hard for neurons to relay messages to one another.
Safety and alcohol testing concerns
Of course, alcohol can also make you more at risk of having an accident. In addition, if you drink alcohol before driving or going to work, you’re putting yourself at risk of failing alcohol testing.
Even a small amount of alcohol can put you at risk of having an accident or failing an alcohol test, so always drink responsibly and plan ahead.
Even small amounts of alcohol can have negative impacts on your brain, your safety and your livelihood. Credit Milad Fakurian https://unsplash.com/photos/58Z17lnVS4U and Grant Ritchie https://unsplash.com/photos/cHVefeaqez0 (images modified).