Alcohol can trigger alterations in the structure and operation of the blossoming brain, which continues to grow into a person's mid 20s, and it might have consequences reaching far beyond adolescence.
In adolescence, brain development is defined by dramatic changes to the brain's architecture, neural connections ("electrical wiring"), and physiology. These changes in the brain alter everything from developing sexuality to emotionality and cognitive ability.
Not all component parts of the juvenile brain mature simultaneously, which may put a youth at a disadvantage in particular situations. For instance, the limbic regions of the brain mature quicker than the frontal lobes. The limbic areas regulate emotions and are associated with a juvenile's decreased sensitivity to risk. The frontal lobes are accountable for self-control, judgment, reasoning, problem-solving, and impulse control. Variations in maturation among parts of the brain can result in rash choices or acts and a neglect for consequences.
Ways Alcohol Alters the Brain
Alcohol alters a juvenile's brain development in several ways. The results of juvenile drinking on particular brain activities are summarized below.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. alcohol dependent can seem to be a stimulant because, before anything else, it suppresses the part of the brain that manages inhibitions.
CORTEX-- Alcohol reduces the cortex as it processes information from a person's senses.
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM-- When an individual thinks of something he wants his body to do, the central nervous system-- the brain and the spinal cord-- sends a signal to that part of the body. Alcohol slows down the central nervous system, making the person think, speak, and move less quickly.
FRONTAL LOBES -- The human brain's frontal lobes are essential for organizing, creating ideas, making decisions, and using self-discipline.
Once alcohol impairs the frontal lobes of the brain, an individual may find it tough to control his or her emotions and impulses. The person may act without thinking or may even get violent. Drinking alcohol over a long period of time can harm the frontal lobes forever.
HIPPOCAMPUS-- The hippocampus is the part of the human brain in which memories are generated.
When alcohol gets to the hippocampus, an individual might have trouble recalling a thing she or he just learned, like a person's name or a phone number. This can happen after just one or two drinks.
Drinking a lot of alcohol rapidly can trigger a blackout-- not being able to remember entire incidents, like what he or she did the night before.
If alcohol damages the hippocampus, an individual may find it hard to learn and to hang on to information.
CEREBELLUM-- The cerebellum is important for coordination, to form thoughts, and awareness. A person might have trouble with these skills when alcohol goes into the cerebellum. After drinking alcohol, a person's hands may be so tremulous that they cannot touch or take hold of things normally, and they might lose their balance and tumble.
HYPOTHALAMUS-- The hypothalamus is a little part of the brain that does a fantastic variety of the body's housekeeping chores. Alcohol upsets the work of the hypothalamus. After a person consumes alcohol, blood pressure, hunger, being thirsty, and the impulse to urinate intensify while body temperature and heart rate decline.
MEDULLA-- The medulla controls the physical body's automatic actions, like an individual's heartbeat. It also keeps the body at the ideal temperature level. Alcohol actually chills the body. Consuming a great deal of alcohol outdoors in cold climates can trigger an individual's body temperature level to drop below its normal level. This dangerous situation is called hypothermia.
An individual may have difficulty with these skills when alcohol gets in the cerebellum. After consuming alcohol, a person's hands might be so unsteady that they can't touch or grab things normally, and they may lose their balance and fall.
After an individual alcoholic beverages alcohol, blood pressure, appetite, thirst, and the urge to urinate increase while physical body temperature and heart rate decrease.
Alcohol actually cools down the body. Drinking a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather can trigger a person's physical body temperature level to drop below normal.