The Truth about Alcohol Related Brain Damage

Have you heard about the effects of alcohol on the brain? Many of us know that alcohol has many different qualities, including the ability to damage our minds. But alcohol is one of the most widely used psychoactive substances globally, and its consumption has been linked to various health problems. One of the most severe health problems is brain damage. Alcohol-Related Brain Damage (ARBD) can manifest itself in various ways, such as impaired memory, attention, and executive functioning, as well as damage to the cerebellum and brainstem.

Let’s discuss what this condition is, how alcohol can cause it, the types, the impact, diagnosis and treatment options to help you manage if you have been diagnosed with ARBD.

How Alcohol Causes Brain Damage

The liver plays a crucial role in processing alcohol, but excessive drinking (binge drinking) can overload its ability to process alcohol, leading to spikes in blood alcohol content. As a result, too much alcohol travels to other parts of the body, including the brain. The brain is made up of over 100 billion interconnected neurons that work together to control various bodily functions, such as movement, memory, and cognition. However, as a toxic substance, alcohol can damage, or even kill, these neurons and other brain cells.

Overconsumption of alcoholic beverages, can cause the neurons to shrink and die, leading to a reduction in brain mass. Inflammation in the brain is another possible outcome leading to damage to the blood vessels and increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier. This increased permeability allows harmful substances to enter the brain, leading to further damage. Alcohol can also disrupt the communication between neurons, affecting cognitive and behavioural processes. Chronic or heavy alcohol consumption can lead to changes in brain chemistry, leading to a higher risk of mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.

More Common Brain Conditions Linked to Drinking

  1. Increased Risk of Head Injuries: Drinking can increase the risk of head injuries due to impaired balance, coordination, and judgement. Consequentially, it can also lead to falls, which can cause head injuries that may result in long-term brain damage.
  2. Low Levels of Thiamine (Vitamin B1): Thiamine is an essential vitamin that plays a crucial role in the proper functioning of the brain and nervous system. Drinking too much alcoholic beverages can cause low levels of thiamine, leading to a variety of neurological problems such as memory loss, confusion, and muscle weakness.
  3. Damage to Blood Vessels: Heavy drinking can damage blood vessels in the brain, leading to reduced blood flow and oxygen supply. This can cause cognitive impairment, including problems with memory, attention, and decision-making.
  4. Damage to Nerve Cells: Alcohol is a toxic substance that can damage nerve cells in the brain. This can cause a variety of neurological problems, including memory loss, difficulty with speech and language, and problems with balance and coordination. Over time, alcohol-related brain damage can become permanent and irreversible.
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Diagnosing the Condition

Diagnosing ARBD can be challenging, as the symptoms of ARBD can be similar to those of other conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. However, several tests can be used to diagnose ARBD, including neurological exams, blood tests, toxicology exams and brain imaging scans.

If you are struggling with alcohol consumption, contact the Providence Project. We have helped thousands of people get better and take control over their drinking. We can help you and your GP discover underlying health conditions and indicate any ongoing processes that are due to the amount of alcohol in your blood. We understand that many still put stigma over the subject of alcohol rehabilitation, but your health is more important than these people. We want to assure you that our centre is here for you, and your loved ones, and we can admit you as soon as today.

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