Drugspection: Episode 1 | The Effects of Alcohol on the Body and Mind

In Biology, Chemistry, Drugs by Mystifact

In this episode of my new series Drugspection, I will be explaining the effects of Alcohol on the mind and body. Alcohol is all around us and is everywhere we go. It is highly regarded as a social activity, and a large percentage of people love cracking open a cold one with the boys; but how does it affect the body and the mind?

Alcohol’s effects on the brain

When alcohol is ingested, the feeling of being drunk is due to the effects it has on the brain. It makes you think and perceive differently. When alcohol begins to affect the brain, it starts by affecting the neurons. What are neurons and how do they work?

Neurons and Neurotransmitters

Your neurons are cells that process information in the brain. They release different chemicals called neurotransmitters which act on other neurons causing them to change electrical charge. This either excites or inhibits the signal in the next neuron, just like a computer binary system, where the values possible are just 1 and 0.

On a large scale; these signals work together and form complex configurations throughout the entire brain in an incredibly short time. This is what happens every time you think or do any activities making you feel a specific way towards them. Same with a series of 1’s and 0’s on a large scale; you have a computer which processes complex information.

Types of Neurotransmitters

There are many different neurotransmitters in the brain. The ones we are going to focus on are Glutamate and GABA. Glutamate is the excitation chemical and GABA is the inhibition chemical, just like the 1’s and 0’s of a binary system respectively. In addition, GABA helps to organise and differentiate in your brain. This information will come in handy as you read on.

Alcohol’s effect on Glutamate and GABA

Generally speaking, Alcohol reduces Gultamate and increases GABA meaning less excitation, more inhibition [1]. Due to less Glutamate, information transmission becomes slow and only the largest signals make it through the neuron network. As a result you:

  • Feel less

  • Perceive less

  • Remember less

  • Notice less

Due to the slowing down of the electrical signals, it makes the drinker feel slow and drowsy. Further drinking, and the drinker may suffer from memory loss and a lack of motor coordination. It is also the reason a lot of drunk people experience sudden mood swings.

GABA is responsible for calming nervous activity by removing excess background signals whilst giving your thoughts clarity. As a result, people with lower levels of GABA begin showing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

When drunk, the GABA channels are wide open and a larger amount of this chemical is released. Combine this with a decreased amount of Glutamate; you begin to think little with a lot of clarity. This is why:

  • People think doing certain things are a ‘good idea’ when in reality they are not and could result in harm

  • People have ‘the best time ever’

  • People make ‘best friends’ with people they have just met

In addition, Dopamine is the ‘feel good’ chemical in the brain, and more of this is released when one is drinking. This also further tricks the brain into thinking it is feeling great.

What happens when one drinks too much?

As with anything, too much of alcohol is bad for you. Drinking too much can cause damage which may be permanent. It can also cause death.

Usually when people drink too much they forget more and more of their night, begin throwing up and eventually black out. All this drinking puts a lot of strain on your liver which is arguably your most vital organ [2]. Abusing it can lead to life threatening, irreversible conditions. If you do read this please do drink responsibly!

Alcohol’s effects on the body

There are many effects alcohol has on the body both long term, short term and even when drunk; so here is a link which you can use as these effects are more a list than an explanation. It also shows you the effects it has on the liver so it is worth a read.

About Drugspection

This is a new series in which I will explain the effects of different drugs on the body and mind. If you have any preferences on certain drugs you would like me to cover, leave them in the comments below.

If you have any questions, leave them below and until next time, take care.

~ Mystifact


References:
[1]: https://www.scripps.edu/newsandviews/e_20020225/koob2.html
[2]: http://loveyourliver.com.au/alcohol/

Please note; no copyright infringement is intended. All images used have been labelled for re-use on Google Images. If any artist or designer has any issues with any of the content used in this article, please don’t hesitate to contact me to correct the issue.

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