Have you ever wondered what Alcohol does to your brain?

A recent blog entry at Psychology Today helps explain the known effects of alcohol on the brain, beyond intoxication.

If you ever thought that drinking more than moderately wasn’t detrimental to your mind long-term, think again.

According to research gathered by blog author Susan Tapert, about 50 percent of those who meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol addiction show some signs of thinking and memory problems. Abilities to plan ahead, withhold responses, learn and hold new information, and work with spatial information were all particularly affected.

Furthermore, alcohol appears to negatively impact the organ itself. The size and shape of brain structures were found to be abnormal in heavy drinkers. Overall, the amount of grey matter, or your brain cells, and white matter, the cabling between your brain cells, were significantly reduced.

This was particularly true within the frontal lobes, where planning, withholding responses, decision-making, and emotional regulation all occur. The quality of white matter was also found to be poorer in chronic heavy drinkers, effecting how information is relayed within your brain.

What does this mean?

Chronic heavy drinkers, or those with an alcohol addiction, must work harder to think and retain information.

Some good news

The adverse effects of misusing or abusing alcohol won’t last forever—if you stop abusing alcohol. Difficulties with concentration and memory tend to greatly improve once alcohol is no longer introduced into your system. Even in just the first month of sobriety, you’ll find that suddenly you have a “clear mind”, helping you find a new appreciation for your life and sobriety.