How Long Term Alcohol Abuse Affects the Brain

Topics: Alcoholism, Alcoholic beverage, Alcohol Pages: 6 (1883 words) Published: March 27, 2012
How Long Term Alcohol Abuse Affects the Brain
One in every thirteen adults suffer from alcoholism today in the United States alone (Connery 1). This is just one of many devastating truths about alcoholism. Available information on alcohol is abundant and includes not only statistics, but the differences between an alcoholic’s brain and a healthy adult’s brain, the negative affects alcohol has on the brain, and how to prevent those effects.

Many people do not understand what, exactly, alcohol is. ORACLE Think Quest states the following:
Alcohol is a clear drink that is made from corn, barley, grain, rye, or a beverage containing ethyl. When someone drinks alcohol, about 20 percent is absorbed in the stomach, and 80 percent is absorbed in the small intestine. The concentration of alcohol, the type of drink, and whether the stomach is full or empty depends on how fast the alcohol is absorbed. Once the alcohol is absorbed into the tissue, it affects your mind and body.  Blood alcohol concentration can rise up to 20 minutes after having a drink. After alcohol is absorbed it leaves the body in three ways: the kidneys, lungs, and liver (“ORACLE Think Quest” 1).

Alcohol can affect your body in many ways such as your liver and many other major body organs. “But long term, heavy alcohol abuse has more lasting effects on the brain. Research studies show that between fifty and seventy-five percent of alcoholics experience difficulties in learning, remembering, perceiving, and solving problems” (Berger 2).

The liver is in charge of breaking down all of the alcohol in the body (“Alcohol Alert” 2). The liver can only handle about one drink per hour. When someone drinks more than one to two drinks an hour, they are more likely to pass out or black out. Also, liver diseases are able to develop from alcohol abuse. One disease being Liver Cirrhosis. Liver Cirrhosis is basically a disease that kills the liver very slowly. Luckily, there are many symptoms to heighten the chances of catching it early on.

Alcohol abuse can effect many organs other than the liver. “Chemically, alcohol is a depressant that suppresses central nervous system activity. When is enters the stomach, most of s goes to the small intestine but some enters the blood stream where it finds its way to the brain” (Hollen 27). Also, “As the amount of alcohol in the body increases and the central nervous system is further depressed, reflexes and coordination show and speech may become slurred” (Hollen 27). When large amounts of alcohol are consumed, reaction times may change dramatically, that is why people say not to drink and drive. Many times people believe they are acting normally while intoxicated, and in reality, they are completely out of their character. Alcohol can increase your chance of developing high blood pressure, which is know to accelerate the decline in kidney function. Additionally, alcohol can irritate the linings of the stomach and cause you to vomit, which is the most common symptom of intoxication. Although many people think they can handle large amounts of alcohol, many of them do not think about how the alcohol is affecting there bodies.

Alcohol can affect your mind in many ways such as affecting your brain and much more. How much or how often a person drinks, the age they start and how long they have been drinking, gender, genetic background, general health status, family history, how old they are, and if they are at risk of prenatal alcohol exposer all determine the extent of brain damage one receives (“Alcohol Alert” 2 ). A small amount of alcohol can affect many brain functions, like blacking out, and memory loss (Oscar-Berman 3). This can be very dangerous especially when entering a vehicle. It is imperative that a person take all steps to avoid blacking out behind the wheel. One of the conditions you can obtain from alcoholism is dementia. Dementia is a severe impairment or loss of intellectual capacity and...
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