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4 Effects You Didn’t Know Alcohol Had on Your Brain

4 Effects You Didn’t Know Alcohol Had on Your Brain

Depending on how much you drink, alcohol can seem like an easy way to unwind with friends or a terrible substance that leads you to make rash decisions. When you learn about these 4 effects that alcohol has on your brain, the reasons behind your experiences will become more obvious.

Alcohol Suppresses Glutamate

Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that increases brain activity and energy. When you have the proper level of glutamate in your brain, you can think clearly and quickly.

Alcohol suppresses the production of glutamate, leaving your brain in a lurch. Without the right amount of this excitatory neurotransmitter, your brain cannot process information as quickly as it normally does.

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That means slow, sluggish thinking that could lead to poor decision-making, like texting your ex in the middle of the night. This is also the reason its not good to drink and drive. Your reaction time is slower and you are more likely to cause an accident. Anyone who has had a few drinks too many certainly knows what that feels like.

Alcohol Increases GABA

GABA, which stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, does the opposite of glutamate. GABA tries to keep the brain calm. This balancing act is essential for daily life since your glutamate helps you concentrate at work and GABA helps you relax at the end of the day.

When you drink alcohol, your brain starts to create excess amounts of GABA. That’s why so many people pass out after they’ve had too much to drink.

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Increasing GABA further handicaps your brain, which is already suffering from suppressed glutamate. By slowing the brain’s functions, imbibers can become confused, disoriented, and out of control.

Alcohol Increases Dopamine

If alcohol only slowed the brain down by messing with GABA and glutamate neurotransmitters, far fewer people would abuse it. Instead of feeling happy and enthusiastic, you would probably just feel tired and confused.

Since alcohol also increases dopamine, your brain feels rewarded when you consume a drink. Ideally, dopamine would only reward you when you’ve done something good like exercise or form a new friendship. The neurotransmitter plays a crucial role in those healthy activities, too, but alcohol confuses the system by creating a reward for unhealthy behaviors.

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The increased dopamine is the part that makes people want to drink alcohol. This is also how drugs like cocaine and crystal meth make people feel good. Dopamine is the reason people become addicted to alcohol. It gives them that feel-good sensation and helps them forget about their problems.

Unfortunately, the more that you drink, the more dopamine your brain releases. As you stumble around the room, speaking incomprehensibly, the high levels of dopamine tell your brain that everything is great.

Alcohol Gives the Brain Diminished Returns

Drinking alcohol on occasion might not cause any real harm to the brain, especially if you drink in moderation. Frequent drinkers, however, run into problems as they continue to expect the same positive feelings from alcohol.

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If you’ve been drinking heavily for a few years, your brain’s dopamine production slows. It takes more and more alcohol to create that “feel good” sensation. Once that happens, many people become alcoholics who can’t regain control of their lives without centers for alcohol detox. That’s a frightening way to live.

If you or someone you know cannot stop drinking, that person has probably progressed to the point where his or her brain doesn’t produce adequate dopamine. Consider seeking counseling or rehab to help yourself or that someone you know who has reached this point.

The next time you are out enjoying a few drinks with friends, keep in mind this information. It can help you make better decisions while drinking.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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