Title Head: ALCOHOL AFFECTS THE BRAIN
It is a well established fact that alcohol affects the brain. Alcohol is a socially accepted drink, but too often, people take it too far. Many questions have been asked concerning the reason why people fall into alcohols web of entrapment. There are several reasons associated with people getting into heavy drinking and the inability to get out of it.
For many people, Drinking starts as a way of finding relaxation in the company of friends, mainly after leaving high school and start attending college, or after they get a job whose earnings can help them sustain the habit. Alcoholics are reluctant to admit that they are hooked to alcohol until action is taken, and it is in most cases through being taken to a rehabilitation centre that they are able to quit drinking. Many alcoholics will have started drinking as a result of peer influence during their teenage or in early adulthood. Initially, drinking is not seen as a problem but as days go by people start raising the alarm while the affected person does not acknowledge that he or she is taking drinking too far. After all, they argue, they started drinking on their own and it should not bother people that much because they think that they have good reasons for engaging in drinking without a break (Thomson, Milliken & Smilek, 2010). It is while at it that they undergo gradual damage of the brain and after some time they start encountering cognition problem. They lose mental focus and remembering is also affected. Alcohol affects the brain in such a way that memory is lost die to damage of brain cells.
Many alcoholics are unable to stop drinking because they do not realize that they have a serious problem. Drinking is one of the most addictive habits but many people do not recognize this fact. Alcohol is slowly becoming more and more abused especially by the youth who see it as a perfect way of passing time but, eventually, they become addicted. Alcohol usually produces detectable impairment in memory after one has taken a few drinks. The intensity of impairment increases with an increase in consumption. This continues and as the person continues drinking alcohol the brain starts going through gradual damage, especially in the brain cells (Alcoholism; New alcoholism study findings reported from University of Stirling, 2010).
Alcohol can affect many areas of the brain and generally, alcohol is responsible for the contraction of brain tissue and consequent depression of the central nervous system. It actually filters some messages, blocking them from reaching the brain. It is estimated that alcohol can affect the brain in a much bigger way that some mostly taken drugs such as marijuana. Alcohol affects the brain in a much more complex way than people can even notice. When someone takes alcohol, it goes straight into the brain in the form of ethyl alcohol after being processed by the liver and upon its absorption into the blood. When it gets to the brain, the ethyl alcohol affects neurotransmitters and the individual is unable to relay some messages coherently and if the intake of alcohol is increased then there is a total breakdown and therefore the individual can not sense anything as sensory receptors in the brain are completely blocked. It is important to note that alcohol is not actually responsible for the damage of the brain. Scientifically, what it does is to damage the dendrites so that there is no link between senses and the brain. The antennas of the brain’s neurons which serve the purpose if receiving and relaying message to the brain for interpretation are impaired and as a consequence the individual does not function in a normal way. This is how the chemistry of alcohol works on the chemistry of the brain. Continued use of alcohol has long-term effects whose consequences are severe. Heavy consumption of alcohol only worsens things although mid and moderate alcohol consumption can sometimes have adverse effects on the brain too (Cook, 2010).
Alcohol is responsible for destroying the academic lives of many students. As a result of impairment to the brain, the student is not able to reason properly and consequently this results in a general lack of interest or concentration in academic affairs. The results are obvious and the alcoholic student’s grades start falling. The effects of alcohol are many although the issue is given very littlie attention. Many students have had to quit college out of brain disorders caused by excessive drinking (The Nemours Foundation, 2010).
The fact that alcohol is meant to be a social drink can be used to understand more about the effects of alcohol to the brain. Alcohol affects the brain and the drinker starts doing things that are strange. The most obvious effects of alcohol on the brain are slurred speech, slow flexes, considerable loss of inhibition, clumsiness and loss of mental focus. These are the clearest indicators as to the effects of alcohol on the brain. These abnormal behaviors are as a result of damage to brain in which brain cells die from strain by ethyl alcohol. Alcohol does not completely damage the brain cells but it damages the dendrites and as such the neurons can not receive inputs. Alcohol causes the dilation of the channels that carry calcium into the brain (Coghlan, 2009). Consequently, calcium flows into the brain in excessive amounts and there is an increase in activity. In some strange way, the ends of the neurons which act as receptors are damaged by the charging up of activity in the brain and as such normal brain function is disrupted. The other factor is that alcohol gets mixed up with the fatty acids in the brain. After the two mixes they cause the formation of fatty acid ethyl esters. Potassium ions are released in higher amounts after the fatty acid ethyl esters molecule enters the nerve cell. This delays or prevents the release of neurotransmitters, an interpolation which is responsible for disrupting the electrical as well as chemical signals entering the brain. It is the change in the flow of signals which causes the communication gap between cells and the individual starts behaving inappropriately. This continues to be the case every time the individual drinks and with time the system is destroyed and finally some of the communication is cut off completely.
Alcohol causes unstable gait and slurred speech. The way these two are affected is just the way the person’s cognitive ability is affected. Observing a person who has taken a considerable amount of alcohol a can reveal that the memory is impaired by an increase in the amount taken. The more the person drinks, the more unable he or she is unable to recall some things like some well known names and events. This is temporary impairment of the brain. The case worsens if the individual drinks without eating and may lead to an even worse case of forgetfulness (Coghlan, 2009). People who drink more without eating are more at risk of developing memory loss. Alcohol also leads to alcohol dementia whereby brain health undergoes general diminution in which the brain starts deteriorating, mostly to those who are old. Using alcohol in amounts that are above the normal rates makes the brain cells to undergo a process of irreparable damage. There are some deficiencies that are caused drinking. Vitamin B1, otherwise known as thiamine, is the one that helps to regulate or prevent beriberi and maintains growth and appetite. Alcohol can make someone cause physical injury to the brain. A person may hit his or her head against and object or fall and this may result to permanent impairment of the brain cells, leading to a loss of memory. Changes to the brain are persistent with continued use of alcohol. People who drink heavily are at a risk of developing a certain disease that affects the brain. Excessive drinking causes liver dysfunction which in most cases causes hepatic encephalopathy. This is a brain disease which is potentially fatal whose signs are personality changes, mood disorders for example severe anxiety and depression. Peripheral neuropathy is also another disease caused by drinking and which in the individual appears unstable (Thompson, 2010).
Science has proved that the effects of alcohol are more and faster to appear in women than in men. A woman who drinks while she is pregnant because alcohol cause the damage to the fetus. The development of the brain is impaired and the child as a consequence has defects of the brain after being born. The psychological impact of alcoholism also affects the brain. The addict suffers social isolation and has problems with others in the society and as such suffers mental illness.
Although it may be impossible for a person who has been addicted to alcohol to stop drinking at once, it is possible to start by cutting down on the amount that one takes. There are drugs that can help restore cognition and mental focus which are the effects of long-term drinking. It is advisable to avoid binge drinking. Taking alcohol in gulps is very dangerous and should also be avoided.
Alcoholism; New alcoholism study findings reported from University of Stirling, (2010). Marketing Weekly News,608. Retrieved October 15, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global.
Coghlan, A, (2009). Dealing with booze’s dark side. New Scientist, 204(2730), 8. Retrieved October 15, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry.
Cook, D. H, (2010). A discourse about the institutional handling of the substance abuser’s penchant to relapse (Relapse). The International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 30(9/10), 486-498. Retrieved October 15, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global.
The Nemours Foundation, (2010). Dealing with Addiction; what are Substance Abuse and Addiction?
Thomson, D, Milliken, B, & Smilek, D, (2010). Long-term conceptual implicit memory: A decade of evidence. Memory & Cognition, 38(1), 42-6. Retrieved October 15, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global
Thompson, T, (2010).What Effects Does Alcohol Have on Brain Cells? Native Remedies; The Natural Choice.