Alcohol is a panacea for some, a taboo for some, and quite literally just fun for some. But is it really all fun and enjoyment?
What I’m trying to say here is that occasional consumption of alcohol, and everyday consumption of alcohol are really far apart.
The consequences of alcohol on the human body and mental health are a serious problem; so let us understand how does alcohol affect the central nervous system and the brain.
But first, let us see what is the central nervous system and what all does it include.
1. What is Central Nervous System?
The central nervous system basically includes the spinal cord, brain, and network of nerve cells called neurons along with chemical messengers like neurotransmitters.
Functionality is the execution of basic mental and physical functions and all other nerve activities in your body.
The neural network is very strongly knitted and all neurons have a very interlinked working relationship with each other.
Now when there is alcohol consumption it creates a disruption of your central nervous system, which in turn affects your body and brain.
2. Effects of Alcohol Abuse on the Central Nervous System and Brain
When there is alcohol abuse the body experiences the release of the feel-good hormone also known as dopamine and due to the pleasure effect, it is assumed that alcohol is a stimulant.
But on the contrary, it is actually a depressant, and when a person consumes alcohol the neurotransmitters get affected in a manner that the neuron communication is slowed down.
When the neuron network does not work efficiently, the brain processing is affected and hence we feel confusion or the sense of unclear decision-making.
This actually gives you a depressing feeling and you tend to take more risks because your self-consciousness is less active.
This depression also has a lot of other consequences as the decreased brain activity affects reaction time and even body coordination.
There is another angle to CNS depression, which is a slower heart rate and decreased blood pressure. This in turn also affects the sleep and waking cycle.
So, for binge drinking the problem becomes larger because now the body is used to consuming a certain amount of alcohol, and the feel-good factor slowly fades. To create that buzz again now you have to consume more alcohol, which leads to alcohol addiction.
If we count some of the most common effects of alcohol abuse on the brain and CNS, these include slurred speech, disruptions in memory, increased confusion, and slower muscle reaction.
Some symptoms of these are vomiting, blue skin, and passing out. Heavy drinking at times can even lead a person to coma or death in some cases.
This is why it is suggested to consume alcohol only within the permissible limits so that your safety is not in jeopardy.
These symptoms however will vary from individual to individual and usually depend on the pattern of alcohol consumption.
The key points in the same are the volume of alcohol consumed, how often a person drinks, the amount of food they are consuming before and during drinking, the weight and body of the consumer, how quickly are consuming, and their mental and physical health status.
Also, according to the World Cancer Research Fund and American Institute for Cancer Research, heavy alcohol consumption has evidence of causing cancers in the breast, mouth, liver, esophagus, colon, and much more.
3. Momentary Damage: How Does Alcohol Affect The Central Nervous System?
So, how do you know what damages are being caused to your body in the short-term consumption?
If you’re consuming a lot of alcohol in a short duration you will face the following problems; irregular heartbeat, low body temperature, extreme dehydration, seizures from lack of blood sugar, slowed breathing, and even alcohol poisoning.
If you’re not a full-grown adult the symptoms might be worse and if you’re into alcohol abuse then the symptoms can be extreme.
Also, a new study analyzed where 600,000 people drank alcohol, and when their health was monitored, it was found that alcohol consumption was associated with different body complications like heart failure and stroke, irrespective of gender.
4. Long-Term Damage: How Does Alcohol Affect The Central Nervous System?
How do you know that you have chronic alcohol usage, or if you have alcohol use disorder?
Probably if you experience these effects like cramping, aching, weakness and spasms in muscles, inability to handle high temperatures, abnormal bowel issues, altered ability to talk or swallow, varied degrees of tingling in your feet usually and sometimes Wernicke encephalopathy.
These span out in a long duration, some of them will completely go away by abstaining but the sooner you discover the better it is to stop or control your consumption so that you can have a better body and mind functioning.
5. Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome and the Central Nervous System
When do you feel withdrawal symptoms? Well anywhere between four hours and five days from the last time you consumed alcohol will feel the symptoms coming up.
For binge drinkers the blood tolerance for alcohol is high, so their consumption anyway is higher without the body showing any visible after-effects very soon.
The depressant effect basically puts the nervous system in a state where the inhibitory neurotransmitters are more active, thus slowing down brain activity.
Alcohol consumption balances this depression by exciting the neurotransmitters; so during withdrawal, the brain seeks more alcohol so that it can cope with the changes.
The brain eventually goes into overdrive and can even lead to seizures or fits. More severe withdrawal causes extreme triggering so for certain cases it is advised to take professional help and medical supervision.
6. Final Thoughts
Consumption of alcohol adversely affects the brain and the central nervous system which further leads to negative effects on your mental and physical health.
It also leads to a reduction in the body’s ability to perform everyday functions along with poor judgement.
So, if you want to consume alcohol do it in a manner that suits your body and you can handle the situation without causing trouble.