Alcohol And Its Effects On The Brain Essay

Alcohol And Its Effects On The Brain Essay

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Alcohol and Its Effects on the Brain

Most people have observed the signs of heavy drinking: slurred speech, stumbling walk, and trouble with balance, coordination and memory lapses. All of these physical signs occur because of the way alcohol affects the brain and central nervous system. Our brain is the command center for our bodies. Everything we do, think, and say depends on our brain. Alcohol is in a category of drugs that when abused causes short and long term health risks as well as a dramatic impact on memory and many people are unaware of its dangers. It’s the most commonly used and abused drug, affecting nearly 20 million people. (Ciccarelli, S., & Meyer, G.)
Alcohol is a psychoactive drug which alters thinking, perception, memory or a combination of all three. Within the categories of these types of drugs, alcohol is considered a depressant because is slows the functioning of the central nervous system. It does this by altering levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are a chemical which sends signals throughout the body that control thought, behavior and emotion. One type of neurotransmitter called GABA is directly stimulated by alcohol which when released, begins to cause an overall inhibition of the nervous system. (Ciccarelli, S., & Meyer, G. pg. 53) This occurs in the cerebral cortex area of the brain where inhibitions, judgements, and coordination are stored. Because the feeling of well-being increases when a person consumes alcohol, it is occasionally confused as being a stimulant type of drug rather than a depressant. (Ciccarelli, S., & Meyer, G. pg. 163)
Since the cerebral cortex is the first area of the brain affected by alcohol, drinking at a young age will cause long term effec...


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...Short term effects on the brain from alcohol consumption usually resolve after the drinking stops. However, for abusers of the drug, short and long term memory impairment increases. Also, as a person develops a tolerance to alcohol, nerve cells in the brain continually slow down and become dependent on the alcohol. Recently, research has discovered that through the process of neurogenesis, nerve cells can be regenerated in adulthood. These new cells are created from stem cells, which are cells that can divide indefinitely, renew themselves, and give opportunity to an assortment of cell types. The discovery of brain stem cells and adult neurogenesis enables a new way of approaching the problem of alcohol–related changes in the brain and may direct stronger understanding of how best to treat and cure alcoholism. (http://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa63/aa63.htm)

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