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Here's What Really Happens to Your Brain When You Drink Too Much Alcohol


Health l April 24, 2018

Some of the effects, like slurred speech and loss of balance, can be very obvious. Others, like cell death, not so much.

A glass of wine with dinner, a happy-hour beer after work, a cocktail (or three) on vacation: Alcohol is deeply ingrained in American culture, and, for many of us, it’s a normal part of our daily lives.

Studies suggest that alcohol, when consumed at low to moderate levels, may have some health benefits. It can also produce feel-good effects, which is why many of us turn to it in social situations or during stressful times. But the research is also clear about something else: When a person consumes alcohol above and beyond moderate levels, it can have damaging effects on the body and on the brain—both short-term and permanently. Some of those effects, like slurred speech and diminished memory, can be quite clear; others, like long-term cellular damage, may not be as obvious.

If you’ve ever wondered what’s really going on in the brain when a person’s had too much to drink, here’s a brief primer. The experts we spoke with agree: Most people shouldn’t feel guilty about enjoying the occasional drink—but keep these effects in mind if you’re tempted to overdo it.

Short-term effects of alcohol on the brain

Drinking alcohol alters the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, says Maria Pagano, PhD, addiction researcher and associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. These chemical messengers transmit signals throughout the body and...



Written by AMANDA MACMILLAN, l April 24, 2018]

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