How does alcohol affect the brain and body?
You may find that you become more talkative and confident after having a few drinks.
This is because alcohol suppresses some brain functions and, in a small amount, can make us feel energized as our inhibition threshold is lowered.
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However, the more we drink, the more we block the functions of the central nervous system, showing the classic symptoms of alcohol intoxication, such as slurred speech, difficulty maintaining balance, distorted perception and inability to react quickly.
Dullness of the senses
After consuming alcohol, the way we perceive stimuli from our senses also decreases. This means that after a few drinks we have problems with our ability to see, smell, touch and taste. As our senses are dormant, our pain threshold also becomes higher.
Impaired ability to judge the situation
Drinking a lot of alcohol at once makes us lose control of ‘normal’ social behavior. Our thought processes are disturbed, so we are not able to correctly assess the situation and think logically. Because of this, people when under the influence of alcohol behave differently and often make decisions that they regret later.
Have you ever woke up in the morning after a night where you drank too much without remembering what was going on until someone reminded you? This is because alcohol affects the brain’s ability to create and store memories.
Worse, some people “break off the film” and even when they are reminded of what they were doing then, the memories do not come back. This was because the brain was unable to complete the memory formation process. These people waste a certain period of time that will never come back.
Exaggeration in showing emotions
Alcohol also affects the part of the brain that controls our emotions, which causes our emotions such as joy, anger and sadness to be over-displayed. Lack of control over our emotions exposes us and those around us, including those who drink alcohol, to the risk of arguments, aggression and violence.
Loss of balance and coordination
Alcohol affects our ability to move and makes us lose our coordination. It also disturbs our balance, so if we drink more alcohol than our body can take, then we lose our balance to a great extent. The person at this stage can be called ‘drunk as a bale’.
The brain stem controls functions in the body that we don’t need to think about, such as breathing, heartbeat, temperature, and awareness. When alcohol begins to affect the brainstem, it makes you feel sleepy and you may pass out. If the amount of alcohol ingested by the body is abnormally high, it can slow down or stop breathing and eventually kill you.
You may notice an increased number of minor accidents after consuming alcohol. On a night out, you might crash into something more often or trip over and the like. Alcohol can also cause more serious accidents. As we’ve seen, alcohol affects judgment, senses, reactions, concentration, balance, coordination and causes sleepiness.
So it’s no wonder that alcohol is a major cause of accidents or accidental injuries at home, on the road, at work or while resting. It is also one of the main causes of falls, collisions, drowning and fires.
Alcohol irritates the lining of the stomach and intestines, which can make you feel sick. It also reduces blood flow to the muscles, which can lead to muscle aches, which in turn is a common hangover symptom.
Alcohol increases blood flow to the skin, causing sweating and redness. As a result of sweating, heat is lost and body temperature may drop below normal. Leaving the cold air of a pub or club where it is warm can lead to hypothermia. So remember to dress warmly before going out.