The debate on whether drinking moderately is good or bad has been going on forever and is expected to remain the hot topic of discussion in the years to come. People drink socially, at work functions or at family events, depending on their moods and situations. Some relish having a glass of beer, wine at the dinner table and sometimes at the end of the tiring, long days. A majority of people blame their complicated life situations for becoming an alcohol addict. People suffering from mental health issues begin consuming alcohol regularly. Alcohol is believed to change the chemistry of the brain because of which the level of the brain chemical serotonin (a key chemical in depression) decreases. As a result of the depletion of serotonin, a cyclical process begins where one starts consuming alcohol just to relieve depression.
Drinkers are not all alike, some people fall into the category of “moderate” or “light” drinkers, considering it a harmless habit whereas some indulge into drinking more often. It is highly debatable whether one should continue to be a ‘light’, ‘moderate drinker’ or totally abstain from drinking alcohol.
‘Whether drinking any amount of alcohol is healthy or safe?’- The opinions of researchers vary greatly on this. A thorough study featured in the month of July 2019 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that the older adults who drink occasionally are expected to live longer than the non-drinkers. But, it is true?
Alcohol begins affecting the brain of a person immediately after it enters the bloodstream. The liver of a person, who does not indulge in alcohol too often, filters alcohol quickly after consumption, helping the body to immediately get rid of the drug. On the contrary, a person who is a regular drinker or drinks in excess, the liver of that person cannot filter the alcohol fast enough and that is what further triggers immediate changes in the brain.
Excessive drinking cannot only damage the brain but liver too and the damage is a lasting one. Alcohol destroys the cells of the brain and contracts the brain tissue.
Some short-term effects of drinking alcohol include the following symptoms:
- Loss of inhibition
- Poor judgment
- Depressed mood
- Memory loss
- Reduced motor control
The severe symptoms of intoxication are more likely to last many hours and could even lead to alcohol poisoning. The ethanol in alcohol acts like a poison. When the human liver is not able to filter the ethanol in alcohol it develops the sign of alcohol poisoning or the overdose of alcohol. When there is an overdose of alcohol the ability of the brain gets affected and its effects its ability to sustain the basic life functions.
There are endless issues that surround the link between mental health and alcohol consumption. Based on the case studies, doctors have stated that over-indulging in alcohol can affect the mental well-being and it till date remains unclear whether people who drink moderately would fare better by becoming teetotallers.
Introducing you to a lesser known fact; Alcohol impacts the cognitive abilities of a person.
Moderate and occasional drinkers will face the following symptoms:
- Impaired decision-making
- Memory impairment
The heavy or chronic drinkers are likely to face symptoms like:
- Loss of attention span
- Inability to think abstractly
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
- Memory loss
- Loss of visuospatial abilities
- Diminished gray matter in the brain
Whether or not you are planning to give up on alcohol, you can try changing your habit of consuming alcohol by trying to moderate the alcohol intake over the course of an evening, week or a month. It is never too late to be a better and healthier version of yourself!