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What Happens to the Brain of an Alcoholic?

Man with an alcoholic brain

Although alcohol is considered socially acceptable to consume in most parts of the world and is heavily advertised on television and the streets, heavy alcohol use can prove to be deadly to a person’s physical and mental wellbeing and the overall physiological health of their brain. Heavy or long-term alcohol use can result in learning and memory issues and eventually lead to the development or worsening of mental health conditions. According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH):

  • 85.6% of people ages 18 and older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime
  • 69.5% reported that they drank in the past year
  • 54.9% reported that they drank in the past month

Do you need help from an alcohol rehab center? Call us at 866.931.6429 today.

The Immediate Effects of Alcohol

Most of us are aware and some of us have been there for the short-term issues and consequences of alcohol: hangover, vomiting, blackouts, maybe a heated argument that would not usually happen if sober and maybe even a DUI. All of these consequences and more can happen if we drink to the point of intoxication on occasion but the long-term effects are much more dangerous.

In fact, chronic and excessive alcohol consumption can cause even more problems. Some of the immediate effects of alcohol are:


Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it causes the body to lose water. When we drink alcohol, we urinate more and this can lead to dehydration. Dehydration can cause a number of problems including headaches, dry mouth, dizziness, and fatigue.

Impaired judgment

Alcohol consumption can impair our judgment and decision-making skills. This means that we are more likely to make poor decisions when we are under the influence of alcohol. This can lead to risky behavior, such as driving under the influence or engaging in unprotected sex.

Slurred speech

Alcohol can affect our ability to speak clearly and pronounce words correctly. This can make it difficult to communicate with others and can be embarrassing.

Motor impairment

Alcohol consumption can cause coordination problems and impair our ability to walk and stand. This can increase the risk of accidents and injuries.

Alcohol and the Brain

Our brain is a very delicate and intricate organ of the body that must maintain a careful balance of chemicals for a person to function properly. These chemicals are called neurotransmitters. Intoxication of alcohol can disrupt this fine balance, disturbing the brain’s natural equilibrium and when used long-term, over long periods of time it forces a person’s brain to adapt in an effort to compensate for the effects of alcohol.

Clearly, alcohol affects the brain. Some of these impairments are detectable after only one or two drinks and fade after some time of not drinking. On the other hand, a person who drinks heavily over a long period of time may have brain deficits that persist well after he or she achieves sobriety. Exactly how alcohol affects the brain and the likelihood of reversing the impact of heavy drinking on the brain is still being researched.

There Are Many Ways Alcohol Can Affect Us And Our Brains

We know that heavy drinking may have extensive and far-reaching effects on the brain, ranging from simple “slips” in memory to permanent and debilitating conditions requiring lifetime custodial care. And even moderate drinking leads to short–term impairment, as shown by extensive research on the impact of drinking on driving. Several factors influence how and to what extent alcohol affects the brain, including:

  • How much and how often a person drinks
  • The age at which they first began drinking, and how long they have been drinking
  • The person’s age, level of education, gender, genetic background, and family history of alcoholism
  • Whether they are at risk as a result of prenatal alcohol exposure
  • Their general health status.

Whether you are just starting to drink or have been drinking for years, if you are questioning if it’s too much, then you have already answered your question. So don’t hesitate to get help today.

Take Back Your Life at Evoke Wellness at Cohasset

Evoke Wellness at Cohasset provides men, women, and families with comprehensive, integrated care to set a solid and lasting foundation for lifelong recovery from substance use disorders. Our facilities are staffed by experienced and compassionate professionals, including licensed therapists and psychiatrists, addiction specialists, and highly qualified support staff. Our team members are extremely understanding and treat each client with an unmatched level of respect. Evoke Wellness at Cohasset is fully accredited by the Joint Commission, which shows our dedication to offering the highest quality of addiction care for each person that steps through our doors.

Get back the life that alcohol addiction stole from you. Call us today at 866.931.6429 and begin the journey back to sobriety.