Alcohol abuse can produce many damaging side effects, especially when it comes to brain cells. The ability to function in normal ways on a daily basis can be greatly reduced by too much alcohol consumption. Difficulty walking, blurred vision, slowed reaction times and memory problems are all symptoms of alcohol use on the brain. Some of these side effects show themselves after just a few drinks, and others continue long after a person decides become sober. Reversing the impact alcohol has on the brain after years of addiction is the goal of current research. Understanding how the brain regenerates and if previously assumed permanent damage can be corrected is the goal.
Alcohol Abuse and the Brain
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcohol Addiction, there are several factors that influence the extent of how alcohol affects the brain:
- How much and how often a person drinks
- The age at which the drinking began
- How long a person has been drinking
- A person’s current age, gender, family history and genetic background
- The risk of prenatal alcohol exposure
- A person’s overall health
Each of these factors can help determine a person’s risk of brain damage from alcohol abuse. Answering these questions for yourself or about a loved one can help you determine if the side effects you are seeing or experiencing could be a result of brain damage from alcohol.
Symptoms Brain Damage from Alcohol
There are several conditions and symptoms present when a person who abuses alcohol has brain damage. Some of the most common are memory lapses and blackouts. This usually happens when large amounts of alcohol are consumed on an empty stomach. A blackout can be a complete loss of consciousness or simply a period of time when the person cannot recall details of where they were or cannot remember an entire event. For most people who binge drink in this way, the symptoms of memory lapse and blackouts disappear when the alcohol is removed. However, for those who have brain damage, problems with memory can be permanent even after they become sober. Another major symptom of brain damage in people who abuse alcohol is a thiamine deficiency. Thiamine (vitamin B1) is an essential nutrient needed by all tissues in the body, including brain tissue. Thiamine deficiency is common from people addicted to alcohol because of overall poor nutrition.
Healing the Brain after Alcohol Abuse
For years, scientists believed that adult brain cells could not be repaired and that new pathways could not be formed. According the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, newer research indicates that new neurons can be generated in adulthood from adult stem cells. Continued understanding of how alcohol reacts to brain cells will help in the development of treatments for brain damage using adult stem cells. The side effects of brain damage from alcohol abuse can get better over time when alcohol consumption stops, but some side effects can be permanent.
Finding Help for Alcoholism
Alcohol abuse causes many side effects and can damage brain cells over time. If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol abuse, we are here to help you. Our helpline counselors are ready to answer your questions about alcohol addiction and help you find an appropriate treatment program. Call our toll-free number 24 hours a day to get the help you need to overcome alcoholism.