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Alcohol affects us differently as we age. Some of the changes are more immediate and recognisable, such as intense hangovers after just one or two drinks.
However, there are other effects that may not be as noticeable but can be extremely damaging in the long run.
The severity of the effects that alcohol has on the brain will depend largely on age and how much alcohol is consumed each day.
As we age, our bodies and brains go through many natural changes such as decreased spine density, shrinking of neurons, thinning of the cerebral cortex (the part of the brain which is responsible for memory, association, thought, voluntary physical action, perception and sensation), and a reduction in neurotransmitter production.
Alcohol consumption only exacerbates symptoms of the aging brain, and further increases the risk of more serious related conditions.
There are certain parts of the brain that are vulnerable to the natural process of aging. These areas of the brain play a major role in memory. When there is a decline in these areas, there is an increase in memory impairment.
Long-term alcohol consumption directly impacts these areas of the brain and ultimately speed-up the declining process.
The amount of alcohol we consume will influence how severe the effects on the brain are.
Even mild to moderate alcohol consumption which is classified as approximately three drinks per week can have detrimental effects on the brain.
Heavy drinking can also increase the risk of hypertension and heart disease which can result in a stroke, leading to further cognitive impairment.
A 2018 study shows that heavy alcohol use is associated with an increased risk of dementia. This is especially true for long-term abuse of alcohol. Therefore, preventing the risk of dementia depends largely on early detection and intervention in people who are abusing alcohol.
It’s important to note that long-term effects on the brain caused by heavy alcohol use are often irreversible and these risks should be taken seriously.
At Step Away, we understand the severe impact that long-term alcohol abuse can have on the brain. Our programmes are designed to assist and support anyone who is struggling with alcohol addiction, to recover and live a happy and fulfilling life.
For more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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