Effects of Binge Drinking on the Brain
In America, alcohol is an integral part of the social scene. A 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that an estimated 52.2 percent of Americans aged 12 or older were current alcohol users. Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug in the U.S., despite the known dangers of excessive alcohol consumption.
Alcohol is associated with a host of potential health risks. While binge drinking is dangerous for people of every age, the effects are even more detrimental on younger brains. Studies show that binge drinking can lead to cognitive difficulties among college students. In teenagers, studies show that binge drinking may be linked to delayed brain development and early signs of brain damage. A teenager’s still developing brain is at an even greater risk of having altered brain activity as a result of binge drinking.
Binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women within a two-hour period. Binge drinking is known to increase the risk of developing dementia and/or brain damage. Additionally, chronic drinking is known to cause detrimental health effects including cardiac and liver problems, cognitive impairments and brain damage.
The short term effects of alcohol on the brain include intoxication, memory impairment and possibly blacking out. These short term effects can lead to legal issues or trouble with relationships. Long term effects of alcohol on the brain include neurotransmitter effects. Different parts of the brain release endorphins based on different responses. High endorphin levels can lead to depression, low testosterone, low sex drive, infertility, and extreme fatigue. Dopamine is also released by the excessive consumption of alcohol. Over time, the high dopamine levels from alcohol can lead to the inability to feel pleasure without alcohol.
While none of the effects of alcohol on the brain are positive, consuming alcohol can also be extremely addictive. The neurotransmitters and endorphins released in the brain act as a reward system, causing addiction once the drinker becomes dependent. These changes in the brain can become life-altering and extremely damaging.
If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one who is binge drinking, contact the addiction specialists at Silicon Beach Outpatient Center today. Our team helps individuals struggling with addiction to get onto the path of recovery.