Here is What Happens To Your Brain When You Get Drunk



By Lindsay Sibson

Sitting down on your couch after a looooooong day and uncorking that beautiful bottle of red (or cracking open a cold beer)… ahhh it’s BLISS – isn’t it?

The kids are sleeping, you finally get a moment to yourself – each little sip helps ease the stress and worries of the day and soon enough, life feels GREAT.

That is, until you wake up in the morning with a dry mouth and pounding head. Not so fun anymore, eeeh?

I’ve been there. So have you. It’s part of our culture to “grab a drink” with a friend, share a celebratory bottle of champagne, or kick back first date jitters over a cocktail.

Alcohol is EVERYWHERE. And I hate to break it to you, but it could actually be wrecking your brain right now.

What Happens To Your Brain When You Get Drunk

With every drink you throw back, you may temporarily make yourself feel great, but alcohol acts as a depressant to your central nervous system. This means:

  • When you drink, your brain cells communicate at a slower rate.
  • Your limbic system is also affected (it controls certain emotions such as fear and anxiety).
    • Your inhibitions disappear as your limbic system function decreases, which may cause you to become more social and outgoing.
  • Your prefrontal cortex functioning slows (a part of your brain associated with judgement and reasoning).
    • Leads to poor judgment and impulsive behavior.
  • Drinking high doses of alcohol causes the neurons in your brain to slow down their communication.
    • These neurons control your heart rate and breathing. If communication slows too much, it can cause you to stop breathing and even lead to death.

It’s pretty obvious that the more alcohol you drink, the more severe the effects. While you may still be able to function after drinking a little, when you increase your alcohol consumption, your judgment and behavior becomes more uninhibited. In addition, your cerebellum is also impacted – and it just so happens to play a vital role in your muscle activity!

Hence, the more you drink the more you tend to feel dizzy, lose your balance and stumble… and it goes without saying that you should NEVER operate a car after drinking alcohol.

Alcohol Leads To Different Effects In Different People

Ever wonder why one person can have 1 drink and “catch a buzz” while the next person over is throwing back their 6th beer and “finally feeling it?”

Whether it be a glass of wine, beer, or a cocktail, the same alcoholic beverage affects each person differently.

Several factors go into determining how much alcohol enters your bloodstream:

  • Body weight
  • Ratio of muscle and fat
  • Health status
  • Genetic makeup
  • Your diet (and whether or not you are eating while drinking)
  • Your mindset

A Record Number Of People Are Drinking Themselves To Death

As I said before, alcohol is EVERYWHERE… it’s a constant part of our society and daily life. It is the most commonly used addictive substance in the U.S. and it is estimated that 1 in 12 Americans suffer from alcohol abuse or dependence. Additionally, several million people engage in risky binge drinking patterns.

Unfortunately, the stats surrounding alcohol are quite terrifying:

  • In 2014, alcohol-related deaths reached a 35-year high.
    • More than 30,700 Americans died from alcohol poisoning and cirrhosis.
  • Alcohol-related homicides (drunk driving and other accidents) aren’t even included in the above death toll!
    • If included, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention proposes the deaths would be closer to 90,000.

Why the spike in alcohol-related deaths?

The main reason is that in the U.S., there has been a steady rise in per capita alcohol consumption. In 2014, nearly 57% of Americans drank at least monthly, which is up from 55% in 2002.

How Alcohol Affects The Rest Of Your Body

Not only does alcohol consumption wreak havoc on your brain, it also causes widespread damage throughout your whole body. With millions of people binge drinking – which is drinking enough to bring your blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 or above (approximately 4 drinks for women, 5 drinks for men in a 2 hour period) – the negative health effects are spreading.

“Drinking alcohol excessively can create an inflammatory response to the liver and other organ systems in the body. If those organs work at a lower level of function, then a whole host of physiological processes can be affected.

“It is important for us to understand the extent of damage caused by alcohol abuse, which also can lead to other health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer.” – Shivendra, Shukla, Ph.D. statement to Medical News Today

Is Moderate Alcohol Consumption Healthy?

Yes and no… it all depends on what report you are reading.

Some research shows that people who have one to two drinks a day may have a significantly reduced risk of death from heart disease and “all causes” compared to those who never drink alcohol.

Then there is other research that claims alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels of intake, may be associated with an increased risk of cancer.

“Moderate” alcohol intake is generally considered: 1 5-ounce glass of wine, 1 12-ounce beer, or 1 ounce of hard liquor per day.

In December of 2015, New York Times reported:

“Synthesizing all this, there seems to be a sizable amount of evidence that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with decreased rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and death. It also seems to be associated with increased rates, perhaps to a lesser extent, of some cancers, especially breast cancer, as well as some other diseases or conditions.

“The gains from improved cardiovascular disease deaths seem to outweigh all of the losses in other diseases combined.”

To maintain great health, it is best that you limit your alcohol consumption to no more than 1 drink per day, according to the guideline listed above. However, everybody is different, so it is important for you to listen to your body and mind and adjust your habits accordingly.


Lindsay Sibson

Lindsay Sibson

Lindsay Sibson turned her lifelong dream of traveling the world into a reality when she first stepped on a plan in April of 2014. With the simple intention of learning more about this beautiful world, she stepped away from corporate America to explore an alternative lifestyle of long term international travel, volunteering, blogging and pursuing a blissfully happy and fulfilling way of life.

Lindsay documents her journey in hopes of empowering others to find their passion, reignite their spark and freshen their outlook on life. Connect with her on her website and follow her travels on Instagram (

Through her blog, Lindsay documents her journey in hopes of empowering others to find their passion, reignite their spark and freshen their outlook on life.
Lindsay Sibson

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