Most of us have known, or been around people who have been drunk. We know they act differently than they usually do when sober. They have slurred speech, impaired judgment and motor skills, and loss of memory. Extended use can have long-term memory problems as well as other physical ailments
Do a few drinks on a weekend cause any damage, or is it only sustained usage that is the problem?
Studies have shown that alcohol abuse does not result in brain cell death, but it can damage the ends of the neurons (dendrites) that result in problems making connections. Although the cell itself isnâ€™t damaged, the communication center is altered. According to researchers such as Roberta J. Pentney, professor of anatomy and cell biology at the University at Buffalo, this damage is mostly reversible.
There is a growing problem with teens who binge drink. They are not alcoholics but drink to excess when they do. Binge drinking is extremely dangerous to teens! Their brains are still developing, and binge drinking can damage their spatial working memory (ability to understand what is going on around them). Girls are even more vulnerable than boys to the negative side effects, according to researchers.
“Even though adolescents might physically appear grown up, their brains are continuing to significantly develop and mature, particularly in frontal brain regions that are associated with higher-level thoughts, like planning and organization,” Susan F. Tapert, acting chief of psychology at the VA San Diego Healthcare System, said in a university news release.
“Heavy alcohol use could interrupt normal brain cell growth during adolescence, particularly in these frontal brain regions, which could interfere with teens’ ability to perform in school and sports, and could have long-lasting effects, even months after the teen uses,” said Tapert in a study is published online July 15 ahead of print in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Tapert is also a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.
Adult alcoholics can develop a neurological disorder known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This condition results in the loss of neurons in some parts of the brain causing memory problems, confusion, paralysis of the eyes, lack of muscle coordination and amnesia. It can lead to death. The cause of this disorder isnâ€™t alcohol itself, however, but the deficiency of thiamine (an essential B vitamin), because extreme alcohol consumption interferes with the bodyâ€™s ability to absorb thiamine. Add that to the fact that most alcoholics are severely malnourished, and itâ€™s a cocktail for death.
So, while drinking in small occasional amounts will produce no damage, the abuse of alcohol can do damage to your brain, your liver and could kill you.
Discovery, Fit & Health – Alcohol Kills Brain Cells: http://health.howstuffworks.com/human-body/systems/nervous-system/10-brain-myths9.htm
WebMD â€“ Binge Drinking May Affect Memory of Teens, By Jennifer Warner: http://teens.webmd.com/news/20110715/binge-drinking-may-affect-memory-of-teens
Learn About Alcoholism.com â€“ Teenage Binge Drinking: http://www.learn-about-alcoholism.com/teenage-binge-drinking.html
Health Day â€“ Binge Drinking May Impair Teen Brain Development: http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=654746