Free Essay on the Effects of Alcohol on the Human Brain

Published: 2020-08-13
Free Essay on the Effects of Alcohol on the Human Brain
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Health and Social Care Psychology Mental health
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1409 words
12 min read

Alcohol is an organic intoxicating beverage prepared by fermentation of sugar containing components. According to a report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 24.6% of the population above 18 years have conceded to engaging in binge drinking in the past month. The report further supposes that approximately 16.6 million adults aged 18 and above had Alcohol Use Disorders as of 2013. Shockingly, alcohol has been touted by the report to be responsible for the death of roughly 880000 people. These are scary statistics about alcohol and its effect. However, the effect of alcohol on the brain of a consumer of the beverage is the fountain of all alcoholic related predicaments (Feeney, 2000).

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Ironically, many people consume alcohol in the hope of calming their stressed brain, however, in the process ruin the stressed brain. People opt for a drink to alter the way they are feeling, to feel relaxed and composed, clear the memory from the days events or deal with anxiety, depression affecting someone. On rare occasion, alcohol can indeed offer temporary comfort to a troubled soul although in the long run exacerbate the troubles and even instill physical damage in someones body, particularly the brain.

The human brain is a very delicate body part that is extremely useful and imperative for a human being. Its functions are indispensable and without which a person is as good as dead. The brain functionality is governed by a precise balance of chemical substances. However, alcohol consumption disrupts this balance. Alcohol has a tranquilizing effect that alters the typical balance of chemicals in our brains which have an effect on a persons actions, feelings, and thoughts. Information is transferred by chemical messengers referred to as neurotransmitters. Alcohol has been found to reduce the performance of the brain by lowering the excitatory actions of the neurotransmitter glutamate and enhancing the inhibitory function of gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), these abilities make alcohol have effects of a depressant. It is true to say the feeling you experience when you take alcohol can be attributed to chemical alteration the alcohol has done to your brain. Low levels of alcohol can be responsible for pleasurable effects however as you continue to drink, and the levels increase negative emotional responses such as being angry, aggressive, depressed or anxious can be experienced (Cohen-Gilbert et al., 2015).

Psychologists suppose that regular heavy consumption of alcohol could eventually cause an individual to suffer from depression. They purport that people who are affected by depression and instances of anxiety have a higher probability of being heavy drinkers. The scientific effect of alcohol on the brain is that regular heavy drinking lowers the levels of hormone serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is the chemical substance that aids in the regulation of mood.

Alcohol consumptions can cause individuals to lose their inhibitions and react impulsively to situations. These kinds of reactions is prominently linked to cases of suicide and self-harm. In reacting impulsively, individuals act in a manner in which they would not have were they not under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol consumption effect to the brain has can be graduated in some instances leaving an individual with a severe mental illness characterized by symptoms, such as delusions and hallucinations, that makes the individual affected lose touch with reality. A mental condition of this kind is referred to as psychosis (Graham, 2013).

Excessive regular consumption of alcohol has been touted to damage the memory of a person. Memories are stored in the brain and the process of remembering determined by neurotransmitters. However, alcohol amounts in the body to disrupt the release of the amino acid glutamate (Rathus, 2004). This changes can result to effects such as seizures, depression, agitation, sedation and mood swings. The changes in the chemical balance of the brain may also affect the memory of an individual. An individual might experience a short-lived condition of total memory loss popularly called alcoholic blackout. Protracted alcohol intake escalates glutamate receptor sites in the hippocampus, a zone in the limbic system that is fundamental to memory.

The topic has enormous significance as it brings to light the intricate and complex chemical actions of alcohol on the brain and breaks them down to simple behavioral effect that are the results. The statistics expressed in the commencement paragraph elucidates the need to discern the effects of alcohol consumption. The topic also aims to expound on the medically acceptable limits of alcohol consumption and warn the society not to surpass these limits. Understanding the effect of alcohol on the human brain is a pertinent sensitization body of knowledge that can appeal to individuals to consciously regulate their alcohol consumption levels. The facts of these topic can encourage persons to seek alternative avenues to deal with stress having discerned that alcohol consumption offers just but a temporary solution of masking your stress, depression and anxiety by a shield of inebriation. To improve the mental health of our society, the topic has outlined facets of facts about that too. The topic can also help individuals know how to prevent themselves from falling into alcoholic addiction (Rathus, 2004).

A popular theory that tries to explain about alcoholism and its effects is the disease theory of alcoholism. The theory purports that excessive alcohol consumption is caused by disease of the brain that alters the structure and function of the brain. The proponents of these theory suppose that recent advances in neuroscience show that alcohol dependence is tantamount to neurological and psychiatric illness because it is a result of brain disorder. Many bodies, particularly in America, including the American Hospital Association and American College of Physicians concur with the disease theory and classify alcohol dependence as a disease. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, an organization mandated to conduct behavioral research and biomedical investigations on the causes, consequences, prevention and treatment of alcoholism maintain a strong and official position that alcoholism is indeed a disease. However, this theory has attracted enormous criticism with myriads of scientists opposing on empirical and logical grounds. Some scientist argues that the disease theory increases alcoholism because it has removes personal responsibility and stigma. Surveys carried out on a sample of doctors and physicians revealed that most of them are of the view that alcoholism is more of a social and psychological challenge than it is a disease.

The psychological theory describes alcoholism as a maladaptive response of coping with stressful events. It tries to justify that people are predisposed to using a variety of avenues to handle their stress. The theory purports thats alcoholics are those individuals who have so far learned to handle their stress using alcohol. The theory suggests that these people are calmed and feel at peace when they use alcohol and thus become very well adapted to proceed with their daily activities (Feeney, 2000). Some scientists have refuted the suppositions of this claim saying it lacks empirical backing despite being heavily supported by the cornerstones of logic and common sense.

The topic has succinctly shown with the backing of medical facts that indeed alcohol affects the brain function. Taken in smaller and regulated quantities it can be a beverage of choice. However, if abused in copious amounts, it can be your ticket to the bus of early death. Alcohol consumption affects our memory and can be justifiably regarded as the salient cause of mental related disorders and illness. The relationship of alcohol and the human brain is one of inverse proportion. The higher the amount and frequency of alcohol intake the lower the functioning of your brain. The edicts of alcoholism have not yet been fully discerned. The theories were trying to explain alcoholism are weak and mostly supported by supposition and hypothesis. In future, doing a research on the effect of alcohol on the human brain can be a worthy career path to follow. The information gathered in the course of these writing is pertinent, and if disseminated to the masses it can sensitize them on the need to regulate our alcohol intake.


Cohen-Gilbert, J., Sneider, J., Crowley, D., Rosso, I., Jensen, J., & Silveri, M. (2015). Impact of family history of alcoholism on glutamine/glutamate ratio in anterior cingulate cortex in substance-naAve adolescents. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.

Feeney, A. (2000). Alcohol and Alcoholism -- Effects of Brain and Development. Alcohol And Alcoholism, 35(2), 216-216.

Graham, G. (2013). Alcoholism in Theory. Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, 20(4), 317-319.

Rathus, S. (2004). Psychology. Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth.

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