It has long been known that drinking in excess has a negative effect on your body and can decrease brain and liver functioning, but a recent study found that even consuming one alcoholic beverage a day can increase the aging of your brain.
Your brain naturally ages over the years through the loss of tissue which can decrease cognitive abilities. You likely notice this with older adults in your life who aren’t able to think as quickly now as they did in earlier years. They could become more forgetful or have difficulty recalling information, and this is all a normal fact of life and the aging process. These effects in younger years or at a rapid rate could be a reason for alarm, though.
Alcohol’s Effects on the Brain
According to the National Institutes of Health, alcohol can have immediate effects on cognitive functioning, including inhibited speech processing, slower reaction times, and impaired memory. These shorter-term effects depend on factors such as the amount a person drinks and how often, age, gender, and genetic components. If a person develops a pattern of drinking, however, these effects can be long-lasting and irreversible.
When there is damage to the tissue of the brain, it is impossible to reverse the damage. In this case, doctors often work to prevent further damage and aid in improving functioning by utilizing the remaining tissue. Damage to the brain can impair a person’s ability to complete necessary life tasks and engage in activities that require higher levels of cognitive functioning. This can impair social relationships and self-confidence.
Brain Effects of Having One Drink Per Day
A 2022 study published in Nature Communications found that having one alcoholic beverage, such as a beer or glass of wine, can damage tissue in the brain. Researchers looked at the white and gray matter in the brain and noted a decrease in gray matter for those who consume one to two drinks per day. The researchers noted that higher levels of alcohol consumption created a higher loss of healthy brain matter, meaning that the more an individual drinks, the more severe these effects were.
It’s important to note that this study looked at the correlation between the consumption of alcohol and brain tissue, but it did not assert a causal relationship. They note that the trend of loss of brain tissue is a reason for concern and assert that this loss could likely be the result of a pattern of drinking. The researchers encourage individuals to reduce the number of drinks they have each week to limit their loss of healthy brain matter.
There’s Help for Excessive Alcohol Consumption
If you or someone you love are consuming a concerning amount of alcohol or are having difficulty cutting back on the number of drinks they have, it may be time to seek further support. With new research coming out about the negative effects of this practice, reaching out for help has become more important than ever.
Providence Treatment can provide support for all stages of the alcohol recovery process, from detoxification to residential treatment to sober living. If you’d like to learn more about the services we offer and help available to you or a loved one, contact us today.