How Alcohol Addiction Affects the Central Nervous System

by | Feb 16, 2023

Addiction can be a challenging and isolating struggle, but it is important to remember that you are not alone. If you are seeking addiction treatment in Louisville, Kentucky, there is hope.

Drinking has become so common nowadays that most people laughingly joke about heavy drinking and nursing hangovers. What many don’t realize is that drinking large amounts of alcohol can lead to alcoholism which may in turn affect the central nervous system.

The central nervous system (CNS) refers to the brain and the spinal cord. These two are connected and are the headquarters of all nerve activity throughout the body. The CNS relies on special chemicals known as neurotransmitters and specialized nerve cells called neurons to communicate and interpret information received from our senses. 

Once information is received, a suitable response is issued to the body. In this way, the CNS is responsible for thinking and comprehension.

The Effect of Alcohol on the CNS

Alcohol is considered a CNS depressant. When drunk, even in small amounts, it slows down communication between neurons thereby decreasing brain activity. As a result, most messages that the CNS sends to the body may become distorted leading to the common signs of being drunk. These include:

  • Visual impairment
  • Slurred speech
  • Poor body movement and coordination
  • Slowed muscle reaction
  • Impaired memory
  • Reduced ability to think clearly and/or logically

The effect alcohol has on the CNS depends on factors including an individual’s gender, body size, weight, genetic background, and general health. It also depends on the strength and amount of alcohol consumed as well as how frequently an individual drunk.

Short- and Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the CNS

When consumed rapidly and in large amounts, alcohol can cause alcohol overdose or poisoning. While this severely affects the short-term working of the CNS, it can also lead to life-threatening problems including cessation of heart functioning and breathing, extreme dehydration, and seizures.

Long-term heavy drinking on the other hand can lead to a condition known as the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This is a combination of Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff syndrome. The former is a degenerative brain disorder triggered by a chronic vitamin B1 deficiency in those with alcohol addiction. 

It can lead to progressive changes and a decline in muscle, eye, and mental function. This often leads to Korsakoff syndrome which is a memory disorder that damages nerve cells in the CNS as well as those involved with memory leading to audio-visual hallucinations and severe memory loss.

While there isn’t a cure for the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, health practitioners can suggest ways to improve or manage symptoms.

Find Treatment Today

Don’t let alcohol addiction ruin your life. Fight back today by seeking rehab treatment at Impact Outpatient Program. We offer a range of addiction treatment options including intensive outpatient programs and traditional outpatient programs

These are designed to suit our client’s lifestyles and we even provide a telemedicine option when in-person treatment may not be possible. Additionally, we have a simplified admissions process and accept most of the major insurance carriers to ensure that addiction treatment remains affordable and accessible.

Get in touch with us today if you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction and we’ll be glad to help you find a path to sustainable recovery.

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