‘Brain fog’ is a term many use to describe a range of cognitive difficulties, including problems with concentration, memory, and decision-making. It can be pretty distressing. Still, it is not a disease itself. Instead, it is a symptom.
Some common causes of brain fog include lack of sleep, increased stress levels, depression, dementia, perimenopause, medication, hormonal conditions such as thyroid disorders, and nutrient deficiencies like vitamin B12 deficiency.
However, another possible cause of brain fog is alcohol abuse. The link between alcohol abuse and brain fog has been explored. Now, we know alcohol can harm the brain and its cognitive function.
How Does a Brain Fog Feel Like?
Brain fog can feel different for everyone, but there are some familiar sensations that people often describe. Here are symptoms of alcohol-induced brain fog which we have encountered in our practice:
- Memory loss
- Short-term memory obstructions
- Difficulties focusing
- Difficulties remembering a succession of steps
- Being easily distracted
- Desensitisation to emotions
- ‘Staring in space’ due to overload
- Feelings of being mentally overwhelmed
Another aspect of brain fog is mental fatigue. You could feel mentally exhausted even when you haven’t been doing a lot of thinking. It might be challenging to think clearly, and you could feel confused or need help making decisions. Your thoughts might seem disorganised or “cloudy,” making expressing your ideas or solving problems challenging.
You might also notice that your thinking feels slower than usual, and processing information or responding to questions takes longer. Even though you’re mentally tired, you could still experience a sense of restlessness or an inability to relax your mind.
Remember, brain fog can be temporary or persistent, and figuring out what’s causing it is important. In this case, we are exploring the link between brain fog and alcohol use.
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The Brain and Alcohol Abuse
When alcohol is consumed, it enters the bloodstream and crosses the blood-brain barrier, directly affecting the brain’s neurotransmitter systems.
Here are some ways alcohol abuse can impact the brain:
Alcohol affects the balance of neurotransmitters. These are chemicals that transmit signals between nerve cells. It can increase the release of inhibitory neurotransmitters like GABA, leading to slowed brain activity, and reduce the release of excitatory neurotransmitters like glutamate, which can impair cognitive function.
Alcohol can interfere with forming new memories, a process called memory consolidation. This is why you may experience blackouts or have trouble remembering events while intoxicated. Chronic alcohol abuse can also lead to long-term memory problems and cognitive decline.
Alcohol abuse can lead to a deficiency in thiamine (vitamin B1), essential for proper brain function. Thiamine deficiency can result in Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a severe neurological disorder characterised by memory loss, confusion, and coordination problems.
Alcohol-Related Brain Damage
Prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to structural changes in the brain, including shrinkage of brain tissue and the loss of white matter, which is crucial for efficient communication between brain regions.
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The Providence Projects — a Tool for Prevention and Recovery
We are an organisation with a history of providing effective treatment and support for individuals struggling with alcohol addiction and its complications. Our team of dedicated professionals is committed to helping people overcome their addiction and regain control of their lives.
If you or someone you know is experiencing brain fog due to alcohol abuse, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Contact The Providence Projects today to learn more about our residential rehab programme and start your journey towards recovery.