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Does Alcohol Abuse Affect Brain Cells?

The image exhibits the side effects of alcohol on your brain.

When it comes to alcohol consumption can bring detrimental effects on your brain in a short amount of time. You can seek treatment from our experts for alcohol addiction, which can lead to permanent brain damage and even worse. The first important step of medical detoxification is a dual-diagnosis treatment to treat substance abuse disorders and mental health altogether.

The Effects of Alcohol on the Brain

Alcohol is a harmful drug that causes 2.6% of America’s yearly fatalities. Most people in America regularly consume alcohol, which may affect their social lives. 

While moderate alcohol use has some positive health effects, binge drinking interferes with the brain’s normal functions. 

The signs of a brain injury brought on by alcohol vary from person to person based on age, gender, and health.

Does Alcohol Kills Brain Cells?

Alcohol use highly affects a person’s brain, ranging from temporary to permanent neurological disorders. 

Alcohol use doesn’t directly kill brain cells, but alcohol use can cause damage to neuron ends. This damage can make it difficult for your brain to send signals that usually function and halts the way it sends signals to other body parts. 

The chances of stroke also increase as the size of the brain increases.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

The severe damage caused by alcohol to your brain includes Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS). This condition happens when alcohol inhibits vitamin B1 (thiamine) absorption. The brain requires thiamine to function appropriately. With the decreased level of thiamine, inflation in the brain can occur, which leads to permanent damage. 

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome can be treated with a thiamine supplement provided by medical professionals, but inflammation and damage caused by WKS are not treatable. 

This syndrome can lead to permanent damage, like hallucinations and severe memory loss. A thiamine deficiency can lead to issues with your brain health, and prior medication is required to treat this health condition.

Brain Shrinkage

Drinking a substance with a high alcohol content may cause the brain to shrink. This shrinkage occurs near the frontal lobe cortex, which performs complex intellectual processes. 

According to brain imaging, alcoholism causes brain shrinkage over time. Frontal cortical atrophy and alcohol use are connected. As people age, this shrinking worsens. 

Deeper areas of the brain have also been observed to shrink, affecting the entire brain’s anatomy and the frontal lobe. 

Brain structure and memory are connected. Although occasionally forgetting things is natural, heavy drinkers are more susceptible to memory issues than moderate drinkers.

Alcoholism During Pregnancy

Children exposed to alcohol during their mother’s pregnancy develop Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. This syndrome results in growth issues and brain impairment. Fetal alcohol syndrome can cause various symptoms, but problems are permanent. 

Even small amounts of alcohol can be fatal for a pregnant woman. Drinking during pregnancy endangers the life of the unborn child. Physical flaws, mental impairments, and difficulties functioning and accomplishing activities are all signs of fetal alcohol syndrome. 

A child with this syndrome has distinctive characteristics, such as:

  • Little eyes
  • Droopy Eyelids
  • Narrow Upper Lips
  • Skin that is thin and smooth around the top lip and nose
  • Malformed limbs
  • Delayed physical development

The extent to which alcoholic beverages are consumed describes how severe the effect of alcohol is on the brain of developing fetuses and pregnant women.


Alcohol consumption may cause an alcohol-related brain injury. Excessive drinking increases the chance of brain injury. 

One of the many disorders linked to alcohol consumption is dementia. Patients dealing with dementia may experience memory loss and difficulty recalling events. They have difficulty concentrating, planning and developing a strategy, making judgments, and comprehending the activities of others. They also have problems making decisions.

You can recover from alcohol-related dementia if you stop drinking and eat a healthy diet. However, if you continue to drink, your condition will deteriorate.

Short-Term Effects of Alcohol Use on the Brain

Even in one night’s use, there can be substantial alcohol abuse. A person would experience inhibiting decision-making ability, from cognition, motor ability, and slurred speech. 

Consuming alcohol suppresses the central nervous system. Alcohol can also suppress neurons in the brain, possibly causing someone to change mood and experience euphoria and depression. Other feelings can arise as well. 

Chronic alcohol use impacts a person’s memory. Sometimes people wake up the next day unaware of things they said the night before. Someone could even wake up in a strange place and not remember how they got there. 

Chronic alcohol abuse can severely threaten your well-being and cause neurological damage.

Can the Impact on Your Brain Cells Be Reversed?

Early detection and treatment of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome can prevent damage from occurring later on; however, damage cannot be repaired once done. 

Traumatic Brain Injuries brought on by alcohol usage frequently cannot be reversed. Heavy drinking, even for a single night, can increase your risk of developing a traumatic brain injury.

Even though not all types of alcohol-related brain damage can be repaired, giving up alcohol is still always advised. 

Quitting alcohol won’t repair existing brain damage, but it will assist in lowering the likelihood of developing new damage.

How Much time Can it Take to Heal?

Some forms of brain damage from drinking alcohol can be reversed, but not all of it. 

Brain volume will eventually increase if drinking is stopped, reversing shrinkage. 

When drinking is reduced or eliminated altogether, dementia brought on by alcohol is also likely to get better.

Neurological recovery from alcohol will vary widely depending on the individual and the type of damage that has been done. Most people’s reliance on alcohol will disappear entirely in two weeks, but recovery may take weeks or even months for dementia related to alcohol use. 

The person’s health, the length of their alcohol use history, and many other factors will affect how well they recover. 

Anyone worried about their brain’s ability to heal after they consumed alcoholic beverages should consult a physician. 

Consequences of Alcohol Addiction and Effects on the Brain

According to the US Dietary Guidelines, men and women should consume no more than two servings of alcohol daily.

In severe cases, the consequences of alcohol on cognition may include dementia, difficulty learning, memory loss, and severely impaired mental function. 

Seeking alcoholism treatment is an essential first step toward preventing and decreasing the detrimental effects of alcohol on the brain. It’s never too late to make a difference in your life, no matter how dark things look right now. 

The most important thing you can do is stop drinking. If you’ve been drinking a lot, you’ll need help from a professional while you become used to sobriety.

Seek assistance today so that you can receive the necessary therapy. By pursuing addiction counseling, you may regain control of your life and avoid or reduce many issues connected with brain damage.

Impact of Alcohol on Your Brain Cells

In the absence of alcohol’s numbing effects, your brain cells may erupt with an activity that overwhelms your brain. You might experience hallucinations or convulsions. Doctors can monitor and prescribe medicines without compromising your health or life to help you cope with your change.

Alcohol may not damage individual brain cells, although excessive alcohol use can interfere with neurogenesis, the process by which new brain cells develop. 

It was thought adults could not produce new brain neurons until recently. Those claims have now been refuted, and it is now known to neurologists that particular brain regions continue to create new cells.

Changes in Mood or Personality

You may have been an introverted, trustworthy, and stable person before drinking, but these characteristics may change with long-term alcohol use. You might not recognize yourself anymore. 

Drinking over time might result in personality changes that last a lifetime. Fortunately, if you stop drinking, many of the adverse effects of alcohol on your personality diminish. 

Heavy and continuous alcohol consumption is linked to the following:

  • Degeneration of mental faculties
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Metabolic disease
  • Digestive system complications

All of these diseases can be associated with possible personality changes. Alcohol use may have different effects on someone’s personality based on who they are and what they tend to do.

Withdrawal Symptoms of Alcoholism

Brain tissue damage has been connected to severe withdrawal symptoms. The two most ominous signs are seizures and hallucinations. Roughly 5% of people going through alcohol withdrawal have delirium tremens (DTs), the most severe kind of withdrawal.

Impaired Thinking

Cognitive disability can impact verbalization, thought processing, memory, learning, attention, and impulse control. According to studies, the risk of alcohol-induced brain damage is highest in areas of the brain associated with impulse control and problem-solving. Dementia brought on by alcohol use may cause damage to this region of the brain.

Drinking significantly affects how effectively your brain functions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is drinking long-term bad for the brain?

Drinking too much might result in mental health issues, including despair and anxiety. Abuse of Alcohol increases the chance of developing some malignancies and significant and possibly permanent brain damage. It could result in Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), which is marked by severe confusion, amnesia, and visual problems.

Is it true that alcohol use destroys brain cells?

Alcohol does not cause the death of brain cells. It becomes challenging for neurons to interact with one another because dendrites, or the terminals of neurons, are damaged.

How much alcohol must be consumed before brain cells die?

Alcohol consumption seems to be inversely correlated with shrinkage, meaning when consumption of alcohol goes down, brain volume goes up. The risk for shrinking is three times higher in moderate alcohol consumption than the non-drinkers.

Seek Treatment for Alcohol Addiction Today at The Haven Detox in New England

Find an individualized treatment program for addiction that works for you and your specific needs at The Haven Detox. Our dedicated team of medical professionals will conduct an assessment upon entry to develop that best possible plan for your recovery. 

Our facility offers medical detox with 24/7 medical supervision as well as a residendital treatment program with various ammenties and comfortable dorms. It is our number one goal at The Haven to provide the utmost comfort and security to all of our patients in recovery. 

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to alcohol or drugs, contact The Haven today at (844) 933-4145. Our admissions counselors are available 24/7 and are happy to answer your questions.