When you think of dangerous drugs you don’t think of alcohol, do you? Most people are more likely to think of crack or heroin, or maybe even prescription painkillers. Due to the positive social stigma and how getting drunk is viewed in our culture, we don’t always realize just how dangerous the effects of alcohol are on the human brain and body.
Alcohol affects the brain and every part of the body on a cellular level. Alcohol is not only dangerous but probably the most dangerous drug. Alcohol is also, by far, the most commonly abused drug.
Alcohol impacts the brain in many ways. We all know that the brain is the main source of the body’s functions. Imagine putting your brain in a jar filled with alcohol and shaking it up – it’s not a pretty picture. Well that’s what slowly happens, to a certain extent, when you drink. Alcohol seeps into the brain affecting the different parts of the human body’s motherboard as you drink more, slowly causing you to feel “drunk.” There are many ways to break down stages of drunkenness, but here is one examining what part of the brain is being affected by alcohol, from light intoxication to alcohol poisoning.
The Four Levels of Drunkenness
- Stage 1 The Cerebral Cortex: The cerebral cortex processes information from your senses, thoughts, and initiates the majority of voluntary muscle movements and has some control over lower-order brain centers. Alcohol affects the brain at the cerebral cortex by impairing thought processes and leading to poor judgment. It can cause the depression of inhibition which leads to you becoming more talkative and confident. So when that happens alcohol has seeped to the cerebral cortex. It also blunts the senses and increases the pain threshold. As you drink more these effects become more apparent. This is the first part of the brain affected by alcohol.
- Stage 2: The Cerebellum: The cerebellum coordinates muscle movement. The cerebral cortex initiates the movement by sending messages through the medulla and spinal cord to the muscles. As these signals pass through the medulla, they are influenced by nerve impulses from the cerebellum The cerebellum nerve impulses control fine movements which include those for balance and basic things like walking. Which is why when you’re drunk, the cop asks you to walk the line. You’re getting drunker now to the point of being unable to drive.
- Stage 3: Hypothalamus and Pituitary Gland: These glands control many automatic functions of the body such as a hormonal release. Alcohol affects this part of the brain by depressing nerve centers in the hypothalamus that control sexual arousal. Making you more aroused but less able to perform. Alcohol affects the brain by also inhibiting the pituitary secretion which affects urine excretion. Which explains why you have to pee so much when you drink; your kidneys can’t absorb the water.
- Stage 4: The Medulla: Slowly but surely you have drunk enough to get alcohol poisoning and your brain completely seeps in alcohol. The medulla influences or controls body functions that occur automatically; important things such as your heart rate, temperature, and breathing. When alcohol reaches the medulla a person will start to feel sleepy. Increased drinking of alcohol can lead to becoming unconscious and if in excess can be fatal because it shuts down the medulla entirely.
This is the slow process of alcohol seeping into the brain causing the 4 stages of drunkenness. This is merely the brain though. Alcohol affects the brain but it also affects the body. Alcohol penetrates every cell in a human being causing all organs and body functions to be affected and heavy long-term use can do some serious damage, most noticeably to the liver. Alcohol in no way shape or form does anything positive for the body on a physical or mental level even though getting drunk may sometimes feel good or be fun. Alcoholism can be treated, learn more about our alcohol treatment program today.