What lies beyond hangovers: Effect on brain

Some people find drinking alcohol fashionable, while there are others who disapprove of it. While drinking in small amounts can arguably be good for the human body, consuming it in a large volume at a night out, or consistently over time, is injurious to health. Yet, unaware of what alcohol does to their bodies, some people go on to consume excessive alcohol and end up getting habituated to it.

No matter how much one loves the tantalizing effects of alcohol, it is always good to be aware of the havoc that alcoholism can create. To offer some insights, this particular article focuses on the effects of hangover on the brain. Heavy drinking damages pancreas, liver and heart, the effects of which will be taken up subsequently in this series.

The story of the brain

Drinking too much can make the drinker act differently. Swaying, speaking loudly or too much are preliminary signs. Consuming even more than that makes people slow, less responsive and uncontrollable.

An evening of excessive drinking can lead to dizziness and headache the next morning. Some people find it difficult to even remember the events of the previous day. This state of mind is termed as hangover. It occurs due to the ill effects of alcohol on the brain.

What happens inside the brain?

For an individual to function properly, various nerves and parts of the brain need to act in collaboration which is maintained by chemicals known as neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters can intensify or slow down bodily functions.

When alcohol is consumed in excess, the communication between neurotransmitters tends to slow down. The effects of hangover are the results of this anomaly in neurotransmitter response.

Alcohol disturbs brain by shrinking its tissues

Excessive alcohol can destroy the balance of neurotransmitters. Relaying information by neurotransmitters may become too slow. Mood and behavioral changes, including depression, agitation, memory loss and even seizures can occur due to such an imbalance.

The neurons, the tiny nerve cells that help brain systems to communicate, may shrink due to long term alcohol use. This results in shrinking of brain mass and enlargement of the brain’s inner cavity. These alterations affect motor coordination, temperature control, sleep, mood and a host of cognitive functions, such as learning and decision-making.

Neurotransmitter anomaly and brain’s response

Glutamate is a kind of neurotransmitter that is susceptible to even small amounts of alcohol. It affects memory and various other cognitive abilities. Researchers have found a link between alcohol and glutamate activity. That is the reason why one finds it hard to remember the activities of the day before suffering from a hangover.

Serotonin, another neurotransmitter that regulates emotional expression, and endorphins that cause feelings of euphoria are secreted in large amounts due to alcohol consumption.

The brain tries to regulate these systems despite the changes due to alcohol consumption. However, this often leads to negative results including increased alcohol tolerance, alcohol dependence and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

The light at the end of the tunnel

While alcohol consumption may disturb the brain and its tissues, positive signs may resurface after a few months of abstinence. However, for some people the duration may extend to a year. Researchers have found that after complete abstinence for a certain period, the lost cognitive abilities may come back again.

If you find it hard to stop abusing alcohol, don’t feel depressed. Call the Alcohol Addiction Helpline to find out the cure. Call at our 24/7 alcohol addiction treatment helpline number (866)-281-3014 or chat online with one of our experts to know about the best alcohol addiction treatment centers in U.S.A.