Long Term Effects Alcohol Has On The Brain – It’s a thought that comes to many of us after another night of overindulgence. We probably wake up with that “I should probably do this less often” in the morning and just feel terrible. In addition to wondering if we were drunk on the phone to our ex — or (yikes!) our boss, we might think: What are the effects of this routine on our bodies in the long run?

Consider alcohol as an overly ambitious tenant in our bodies. It rents a small space but insists on rearranging the whole house – the liver, the brain, the heart, as well as the digestive and reproductive systems. The impact of long-term, habitual drinking can lead to serious health conditions, including liver disease, cognitive problems, heart disease and an increased risk of certain cancers. Here’s a deeper look at each of the long-term effects of alcohol on our bodies.

Long Term Effects Alcohol Has On The Brain

Long Term Effects Alcohol Has On The Brain

When we talk about alcohol and its effects, the liver often takes center stage – and for good reason. As the main detoxification center of our body, the liver is the first worker to deal with the consequences of our alcohol indulgences.

What Are The Long Term Effects Of Alcohol On The Brain?

In the short term, the liver can usually cope with this work – it obediently metabolizes the alcohol, breaking it into substances that our body can safely get rid of. However, when we drink excessively or too often, we are essentially asking our liver to sprint a marathon – an unrealistic and unfair demand.

Over time, the stress of metabolizing alcohol can take a serious toll on the liver. Alcoholic hepatitis, inflammation of the liver, is usually first. Symptoms may include nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and jaundice – yellowing of the skin and eyes.

If the drinking continues, fibrosis – or scarring of the liver tissue – can develop, eventually leading to cirrhosis – the stage where the liver is so scarred that it can no longer function properly. This level of damage is serious, and can lead to life-threatening complications.

Our brain – the center of cognition and control – is also not immune to the effects of alcohol. While we are aware of the temporary fog that alcohol can cause – those infamous “brain farts” – its long-term effect on our brain and nervous system goes far beyond the occasional memory lapse or slower reaction time.

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Chronic alcohol consumption can actually change the structure and function of the brain. It can shrink brain mass, disrupt the neurotransmitters the brain uses to communicate, and even affect its ability to create new cells — the process known as neurogenesis. Heavy drinking can change our brain’s automatic mode into a turbulent, unpredictable ride. Along with these changes, alcohol can also do a number on our mental health, causing depression and anxiety.

Beyond the brain, alcohol can have a significant effect on our nervous system, leading to numbness, abnormal sensations and even changes in motor functions. In severe cases, this can lead to a condition called alcoholic neuropathy – a painful and debilitating disorder that can seriously affect the quality of life.

Chronic alcohol consumption can cause more severe memory loss, worsen existing mental illnesses and even lead to permanent changes to the structure of the brain. It’s like converting your brain’s sophisticated navigation system into a malfunctioning GPS that keeps missing its turns.

Long Term Effects Alcohol Has On The Brain

Our heart also bears the weight of our alcohol indulgence. Prolonged drinking can lead to hypertension, stroke and heart disease. It is as if our heart is on a battlefield, constantly attacked without any protective shield.

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Just like behind the scenes technical crew at a concert, our pancreas diligently manages our blood sugar levels and aids digestion. But when alcohol enters the scene regularly, it gives the pancreas a job for which it is not designed, causing systemic overload.

Over time, alcohol can trigger the pancreas to overproduce enzymes, leading to inflammation – also known as pancreatitis. In the long term, this inflammation can become chronic, leading to malnutrition and diabetes.

Our kidneys — the body’s diligent filtering organs — are not immune to the effects of alcohol either. Long-term drinking can interfere with the normal function of the kidneys, affecting their ability to filter blood and maintain a balance of body fluids.

Chronic alcohol consumption can also lead to high blood pressure, a common cause of kidney disease. It is similar to clogging our plumbing system with inappropriate waste, which eventually interrupts the entire water flow in our house.

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Moving down the body systems, let’s deal with our stomach. Although we might associate heavy drinking with temporary discomfort such as nausea or vomiting, the effect of alcohol on our stomach goes beyond that.

Long-term alcohol consumption can damage the stomach lining, leading to gastritis, and also increase the risk of stomach ulcers and cancer. Over time, those “few glasses” add up and can really do a number on your digestive system.

Now, let’s discuss an aspect of alcohol’s impact that is often overlooked – its effects on the reproductive system.

Long Term Effects Alcohol Has On The Brain

In individuals assigned male at birth, chronic alcohol consumption can lead to low testosterone levels, resulting in impotence and reduced fertility. As for individuals assigned female at birth, regular drinking can disrupt the menstrual cycle and even lead to fertility problems. In addition, alcohol consumption during pregnancy carries the risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, which affects the healthy development of the fetus.

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Finally, let’s not forget our skin. After all, it is our largest organ and our first line of defense against the outside world. Alcohol dehydrates the body, including the skin, causing it to lose its plump, healthy appearance. Over time, this can lead to an aged, dull complexion and an increased risk of skin conditions, such as rosacea.

Think of it this way: overindulging in alcohol is like sunbathing without sunscreen. It might feel good for now, but it leaves lasting, visible damage.

Remember, it’s not about transformation overnight. Small, consistent steps lead to effective, lasting changes. We have the power to keep alcohol in check and make sure our bodies stay our own.

The Reframe app is here to help! While it may not be a magic wand for alcohol use disorder (AUD), it is a handy tool to help you reconsider the role of alcohol in your life, all thanks to the power of neuroscience. Countless people worldwide have found our method a great help in shaping their drinking habits — we’re sure it can be a game changer for you too!

A Look At The Long Term Effects Of Alcohol On The Brain

Reframe’s mission is to give you the knowledge and skills to not only deal with less alcohol, but to truly thrive on this journey. We serve up daily insights backed by research, offering a glimpse into the neuroscience of alcohol, as well as a Toolkit filled with useful resources and activities to help you jump over every barrier.

Join our 24/7 Forum chat where you can draw encouragement from other Reframers around the world who get what you’re going through. Don’t forget to check in with our certified trainers for tailored tips and guidance.

We are always improving our app with great new features to enhance your experience. The newest magician on the block is Melody, an in-app chat supercharged with advanced AI technology, ready to lend a hand as you transition to a life with less drinking – or none at all. Plus, we spice things up with engaging monthly challenges like Dry/Wet January, Mental Health May and Outdoorsy June. Team up with fellow Reframers or fly solo – you call the shots!

Long Term Effects Alcohol Has On The Brain

Give Reframe a whirl with a seven-day free trial. No strings attached, so why not dive in? Are you ready to grab the wheel and explore life beyond alcohol? Then download our app via the App Store or Google Play today!

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Have you ever had a night of drinking followed by a morning where you can’t remember large parts of what happened? It is not unusual for people to have a hazy memory after a night of heavy drinking. These are examples of blackouts, or more generally how alcohol and memory loss are linked.

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Alcohol can have a negative effect on your memory, both in the short and long term. this article

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