Alcohol and the Brain

alcohol

Wine, beer, champagne, liquor – all of these have been powerfully branded for several decades. Each targeting an emotional, even subconscious association with the drink that starts even before the glass touches your lips. Kenya is popularly referred to as a “drinking nation.” According to WHO, alcohol has become the beverage of choice among Kenyans over the last 10 years. Further, in 2016, the average daily intake in grams of pure alcohol was 30.4 grams. This is only a few grams shy of the global average daily consumption which was 33 grams of pure alcohol a day. The current COVID pandemic resulted in the closure of bars has resulted in a surge in the purchase of alcohol for home use.

Whether the drink consumed is legalized or illegal, the detrimental effects are felt across board. There is a reduction in productivity as a result of absenteeism from work. Also, the diversion of resources to purchase alcohol (NACADA, 2012) has negatively affected development. Moreover, approximately 13% of alcohol drinkers have developed dependency (NACADA, 2012) and cannot function without alcohol. Beyond “tipsy” behavior of skewed walking, blurred vision, slurred speech alcohol significantly affects the brain. These include:

Alcohol can produce detectable impairments in memory after only a few drinks and, as the amount of alcohol increases, so does the degree of impairment. Large quantities of alcohol, especially when consumed quickly and on an empty stomach, can produce a blackout, or an interval of time for which the intoxicated person cannot recall key details of events, or even entire events.


Alcohol also causes brain shrinkage as a result of dependence. Moderate drinking is also associated with brain shrinkage (British study) unlike the usual belief that its effects were minimal. Though subtle differences are occurring in men and women, loss of brain matter increases with age and alcohol amounts consumed. Cognitive impairment occurs as a result of heavy drinking or Vitamin B1 deficiency. Without proper treatment, the impairment gets worse and results in alcohol-related dementia.


Despite the drinking age in Kenya being set at 18 years, the majority of alcoholics started using alcohol between the ages of 11 and 17 years (Mahugu M., 2016). This group may be at high risk of permanent damage and underperformance as their brains are still developing. Alcohol for pregnant women, is strongly discouraged as physical, learning and behavioral aspects of the fetal brain are affected. In extreme cases, can lead to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) that is associated with a smaller than average fetus, fewer brain cells, and microencephaly.

The good news is that most alcoholics with cognitive impairment show at least some improvement in brain structure and functioning within a year of abstinence, though some people take much longer (Bates 2002). Clinicians must consider a variety of treatment methods to help people stop drinking and to recover from alcohol–related brain impairments, and tailor these treatments to the individual patient.

Share:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Subscribe To Our Blog!

Get instant notifications about our latest posts, new products and updates.

Facebook

Social Media

Most Popular

Subscribe To Our Blog!

Get instant notifications about our latest posts, new products and updates.

Related Posts

The Art of Mindfulness

Humas are always on the move. Some are so busy “chasing paper” that they fail to enjoy breaks thinking that every minute equates to money

Understanding Learning Disabilities

Adult Kenyans are all familiar with our former education system (844). A curriculum that was exam-oriented and failure was always associated with laziness or disinterest

End Period Shame and Poverty

On 13th September 2019, the Kenyan media reported the death of a fourteen-year-old girl by suicide in Kabiangek after she was allegedly period shamed by

Body Shaming

Beauty is not singularly defined; it comes in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Contrary to this, social media continues to define beauty through the number