Can My Brain Heal after Alcohol Use?

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), alcohol use has an effect on the brain that is demonstrated by some of the behaviors of a person who drinks, including the following:

  • A relaxing effect
  • Reduced tension
  • Lowered inhibitions
  • Impaired concentration
  • Slower reflexes
  • Impaired reaction time
  • Reduced coordination

However, as the amount of alcohol increases, so does the degree of impairment. A person may experience slurred speech, drowsiness and emotional changes.

Consuming large amounts of alcohol can cause vomiting and breathing difficulties. If a person drinks large quantities of alcohol quickly on an empty stomach, he or she may experience a blackout, which is a period of time when the intoxicated person cannot recall key details of events or even entire events.

The Effects of Long-Term Alcohol Use on the Brain

NIAAA also reports that a person who drinks heavily over a long period of time may have brain deficits that persist well after he or she achieves sobriety. These effects on the brain range from simple “slips” in memory to permanent and debilitating conditions that require lifetime custodial care. Damage may be a result of the direct effects of alcohol on the brain or may result indirectly from poor general health or from severe liver disease.

Risk Factors for Alcohol Effects

How much effect alcohol has on a person is influenced by several factors, including the following:

  • How much a person drinks
  • How often a person drinks
  • The age at which a person first begins drinking
  • How long a person has been drinking
  • Age
  • Level of education
  • Gender
  • Genetic background
  • Family history of alcoholism
  • General health status

Because there are so many variables associated with the impact of alcohol on a person, it is often difficult to know what to expect when you are drinking.

Treatment for Alcohol Addiction

According to the Mayo Clinic, treatment for alcohol abuse may include the following:

  • Detox – A person withdrawing from alcohol may experience shaking, confusion, hallucinations and other withdrawal symptoms. Detoxification, usually done at an inpatient treatment center or a hospital, generally takes two to seven days.
  • Treatment plan – Once a person has completed detox, it is necessary to develop a treatment plan that can include goal setting, behavior change techniques, use of self-help manuals, counseling and follow-up care at a treatment center.
  • Diagnosis and treatment of co-occurring disorders – Alcoholism commonly occurs along with other mental health disorders. An individual may need talk therapy, psychotherapy, psychological counseling, medications or other treatment for depression, anxiety or another mental health condition.
  • Counseling – Counseling and therapy for groups and individuals help a recovering user better understand his or her problem with alcohol and support recovery from the psychological aspects of alcoholism.
  • Ongoing support – Aftercare programs and support groups help people manage relapses and cope with necessary lifestyle changes. This may include medical or psychological care or attending a support group, such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

All of these treatment services are available in a quality residential treatment facility, which is staffed by counselors, professional staff and doctors experienced in treating alcoholism.

Get Help for Alcohol Addiction

Call our toll-free number any time of the day to get the information you need to make the right decision to get treatment for your alcohol abuse problem.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email