Daily, your brain gets messages from your nerve cells to your body. It needs to send the correct messages throughout your body so it functions correctly.

But alcohol consumption acts on the nerve cells of the brain and disrupts the communication between nerves cells and other cells of the body. Alcohol does this by changing the actions of two major neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messages, which enable nerve cells talk to each other, and to other cells in the body. Alcohol suppresses these activities making a person appear sluggish, tired and slow-moving.

Also, because alcohol does a lot of damage to the developing brain, that’s why it is advised to delay its drinking for as long as possible – usually past the age of 18.

WHAT PARTS OF THE BRAIN ARE AFFECTED?

1. Hippocampus

This part of the brain is responsible for memory and learning. Heavy and extended alcohol use is will cause a 10% reduction in the size of the hippocampus.

2. Prefrontal lobe

The prefrontal lobe is important for planning, judgement, decision making, impulse control and language. This area of the brain changes the most during the teenage years.Young people who drink have smaller prefrontal lobes than young people of the same age who do not drink.

OTHER INFLUENCES OF ALCOHOL ON THE BRAIN

Alcohol affects cells in the body, and the most immediate impacts are seen on the brain.  Alcohol is a depressant that affects the brain by causing the brain to slow down. This can result in:

  • Slurred speech.
  • Poor muscle control and judgement.
  • Confusion.
  • Slower reactions.
  • Poor vision.
  • Lack of coordination.
  • Sleep disruption.

 

The earlier a person starts drinking alcohol (drinking at excessive levels that are likely to cause injury or ill-health), the greater the risk of changing the development of the brain. This can lead to problems with memory and learning, and increases the risk of having alcohol-related problems later in life.

Alcohol use also changes the wiring of a young and developing brain which can result in such ones finding alcohol more rewarding, hence becoming dependent on it, when they are adults. A strong feeling of reward from alcohol use may be associated with an increased risk of alcohol-related problems – like alcohol dependency syndrome and alcoholism – when they are adults.