Alcohol Mental Effects
Alcohol abuse disorders are diagnosed in millions of Americans each year and can affect every aspect of a person’s life. Alcohol is a depressant that causes the brain to react in specific ways, and the long-term mental effects of alcohol can be serious. Alcohol can affect the brain tissue itself as well as someone’s mental health and mood. The mental effects of alcohol may sound frightening, but it’s possible to get the treatment you need when you call BetterAddictionCare. We can help you get sober and start healing with our national network of alcohol treatment centers.
The mental and emotional effects of alcohol vary from person to person depending on how much they drink, for how long, and whether they have any pre-existing mental health conditions. Alcohol and mood or anxiety disorders often co-occur, which is known as a dual diagnosis situation. The use of alcohol increases a person’s chance of developing some mental health disorders. Alcohol has a depressant effect that persists during the period of withdrawal, and this effect can intensify feelings of depression and anxiety and lead to mental illness. If an individual already has a mental illness, on the other hand, they might use alcohol to self-medicate or to counter the side effects of their medication.
The most well-known mental effect of alcohol may be the loss of coordination and the slowing down of movement and speech. This is caused by alcohol’s activity at the GABA and glutamate receptor sites in the brain. Feelings of pleasure and lowered inhibitions are caused by alcohol’s stimulation of dopamine production, but once you stop drinking, those feelings are replaced by the crash of withdrawal. Alcohol use is associated with other serious consequences on the brain, too. Moderate drinkers experience memory impairment, blackouts, recklessness, and impaired decision-making. Heavy and chronic drinkers might experience the inability to think abstractly, loss of visuospatial abilities, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (a lack of vitamin B1 that damages the brain), and loss of attention span. The most serious long-term mental effects of alcohol are brain shrinkage and damage.
Early warning signs of alcohol’s negative effects on the brain include poor sleep after drinking, feeling tired because of a hangover, low mood, and experiencing anxiety in situations that used to be comfortable. If you notice these signs, it’s possible to take early steps to sobriety before a vicious cycle begins. More advanced mood effects include depression, anxiety, denial of a drinking problem, compulsive behavior, and personality changes. Dysthymia is another common disorder associated with alcohol and has symptoms including fatigue, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, and unusual eating and sleeping habits. Heavy drinkers may experience hallucinations and paranoia.
If you are concerned about how alcohol affects mental health and think that you might need help, BetterAddictionCare is here for you. Call now or fill out our contact form to speak with a counselor who will help you find the right addiction treatment center for your needs. We’ll also help you coordinate transportation and insurance benefits to smooth the path toward your recovery. You can get help now and start healing in a comfortable, safe, successful environment right away. Call today.
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