Why I Hate Alcohol And Drugs

I was out for a walk just yesterday, and off in the distance I saw a woman stumbling down the sidewalk.  She was about the fall over.  I wasn’t quite sure what to do with her, so as she passed by I just let her be, stumbling her way up the sidewalk.  Having to avoid me on the sidewalk threw her off balance, and just a short ways later she almost fell, grabbing onto a tree.  She got back up, and kept moving.

Maybe I should’ve helped her out, but I wasn’t really sure what to do, and didn’t do anything.  I suppose I could’ve walked her home, holding her up, though she was so drunk, trying to have conversation with her at that point would have been pointless.    I also worried she might throw a fit, as she was an attractive girl, and might take things the wrong way.  Though thinking on it now, I probably should have at least said something to her, and offered to help.  In situations like that, I really don’t know how to act.

There she was, a lovely, attractive woman, glazed look in her eyes, unable to even walk.  Some find drunks, stumbling around, amusing.  I never have.  Having alcoholics in my family, and watching many of them die young, and having to attend their funerals, I can’t help but be disgusted.  Alcohol had reduced this beautiful woman to such a sad state.

How did alcohol bring her to that?  Her first drinks started immediately inhibiting her higher level brain functions by shorting out the neural transmitters in the cerebral cortex.  This inhibits thought processes, so she would’ve had a hard time speaking with me intelligently.  As she drank more and more, even her primal base brain began to short out, which is why she was having trouble standing.  She was unable to think, stand, and probably had no idea where she was. She probably doesn’t even remember ever walking down that sidewalk, or falling down as she passed.  She barely seemed conscious of me being there, and when she dodged me it was more like a zombie avoiding a tree, than acknowledging another person near her.  I was worried she would fall into the street and get run over.

Drinking alcohol damages your brain.  Not necessarily your first drinks, but the stronger the alcohol, and the more you drink, you keep shorting out your neural connections and sometimes they don’t come back.  That’s what alcohol does.  The cell membranes at the neural connectors absorb the alcohol and this inhibits the normal electrical flow.  With prolonged drinking you fry your brain.  This brain damage shows up in scans as dark “holes”, where the connections are no longer working.  This affects everything from motor skills, memory, to thinking ability.  Just slowly downgrading the body nature gave you.

Alcohol Brain Damage

43’s not even old.  Heavy drinking for some 20 years can cause the same sort of brain damage as someone hooked on a heavy drug, like meth, for maybe 8 years.  (Don’t believe me?  Watch the video I posted below.)  I’m creeping toward 30 myself.   If I would’ve been heavy drinking since high school, I would have some pretty serious brain damage by now.  It’s amazing.  It looks like 50+% of this person’s (above) brain no longer functions.  50% memory loss.  50% less coordinated, and less motor skills.  50% loss of intelligence.   It’s like someone cast some spell on you, and made you operate at 50% efficiency.  Unfortunately the spell never wears off.  Brains can recover, but not very much.  Once you’ve damaged your brain, it’s pretty much a done deal.

Notice the blue shades of color, indicating activity.  Look at the damaged brain on the right side. In the black areas, the brain no longer functions at all.  Also, you notice even the blue active areas which still function, there’s a general decrease in brightness all around.  Even the neurons which are still functioning aren’t working as well.  The whole brain has just taken a beating.

What’s it like to experience this brain damage?  It’s probably like when you get tired before you go to bed.  You’re studying a book but can’t quite understand the technical material, because you’re too tired.  It’s just hard to grasp.  So you go to sleep, wake up the next day, and then it’s easier to understand.   But if you damage your brain through alcohol abuse, even at your best you’ll only be as intelligent as when you used to be tired.  You won’t be able to notice it, because your brain is no longer functioning TO notice it, but those of us without the brain damage will watch your intelligence slide downhill year after year.  It really is terrible.  I’d never want that, and I don’t think anyone else would either.

But there must be a reason people drink it.  People don’t just drink poison, unless it gives them some sort of thrill or pleasure.  From those I’ve witnessed, people drink alcohol for two reasons: 1) it releases reward chemicals, and 2) it inhibits their thinking.  Something in their life has them depressed, and drinking alcohol shuts down rational thought for a short time.  It also gives them an artificial high by releasing dopamine in their brain.

What is the cause of the hang over?  You dump all these toxins into your liver, which struggles to cleanse everything you’re dumping into your body.  If you drink too much, it can’t keep up, which causes bodily damage.  Then in the morning, when you wake up, your brain is dehydrated, as your liver was fighting to cleanse you of all those toxins.  That brain dehydration gives you the headaches.   That can’t be good for your brain either, leaving it dehydrated all night.  The nasty feeling you have all over is the toxins flowing through your body, which your liver hasn’t been able to cleanse, yet.   All of this is taking a toll on your body, which is why heavy drinkers end up gray haired, and look like old men and women well before they’re even 50 years old.

Here’s a video of brain damage caused by alcohol and drugs.  I think few people realize that getting drunk all the time with alcohol does the same sort of brain damage that cocaine or meth does to you.  It’s not AS potent, but it’s still causing serious brain damage.

Here’s a video I found on YouTube.  It seems it was made for high schools to inform them as to what actually happens when you drink alcohol, the risks, and what it does to your body.  It’s not long at all.  You can watch it in less than 20 minutes.  I thought it was pretty good.

A lot of my friends drink alcohol, and it bothers me.  I took the time to put this out there because I love all of you.  I don’t want you to fry your brains, and die young, well before your time.   A lot of people in my family have been alcoholics.  No good comes of any of it.  I encourage you to leave the stuff alone.

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11 Responses to Why I Hate Alcohol And Drugs

  1. jim says:

    Because alcohol is highly neurotoxic, as we’ve said before, it leads to damage of the brain and nervous system. Over time it can cause cognitive deficits, or loss of mental abilities in areas such as memory, concentration, motor control and ability to learn.

    However, there is some hope now that those precious brain-cells are not lost for ever. Researchers at Stanford University have found that after at least six months of sobriety, the brain damage caused by alcohol’s toxicity does in fact repair itself.

    They concluded that the mental abilities of their study group of long-term alcoholics, who had all been sober for between six months and thirteen years, were now the same as their control group who had not been alcoholics. The only capability that had not been recovered was spatial awareness.

  2. Sulzen says:

    Can prolonged alcohol abuse,once discontinued, be repaired?

  3. Sulzen says:

    Yes, when alcohol is discontinued, say, for almost 2 years, can the brain be repaired?

  4. Sulzen,

    There are two areas of the brain where neurons can be replaced. Neurons can be replaced within your hippocampus, which I believe is responsible for short-term memory, and also the subventricular zone. You can read about that here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurogenesis

    To quote from the article:

    Adult neurogenesis

    New neurons are continually born throughout adulthood in predominantly two regions of the brain:

    * The subventricular zone (SVZ) lining the lateral ventricles, where the new cells migrate to the olfactory bulb via the rostral migratory stream
    * The subgranular zone (SGZ), part of the dentate gyrus of hippocampus.

    Many of the newborn cells die shortly after they are born, but a number of them become functionally integrated into the surrounding brain tissue.

    Adult neurogenesis is a recent example of a long-held scientific theory being overturned, with the first evidence of mammalian neurogenesis presented in 1992.[3] Early neuroanatomists, including Santiago Ramon y Cajal, considered the nervous system fixed and incapable of regeneration. For many years afterward, only a handful of biologists (including Joseph Altman, Shirley Bayer, and Michael Kaplan) considered adult neurogenesis a possibility. In 1983, with the characterization of neurogenesis in birds[4] and the use of confocal microscopy, the possibility of mammalian neurogenesis became more apparent, but it was not until the early 1990s that hippocampal neurogenesis was demonstrated in non-human primates and humans.[5][6] More recently, neurogenesis in the cerebellum of adult rabbits has also been characterized.[7] Further, some authors (particularly Elizabeth Gould) have suggested that adult neurogenesis may also occur in regions within the brain not generally associated with neurogenesis including the neocortex.[8][9][10] However, others[11] have questioned the scientific evidence of these findings, arguing that the new cells may be of glial origin.

    In other areas of the brain there is no evidence that neurons can grow back and be replaced. However, existing neurons that were not killed can in fact grow new dendrite arms and start to rewire the brain, so old functionality can be returned, which is what jim is talking about in the comment above.

  5. Apryl Pretty says:

    I dont have anything profound to say…although I believe my brain is still “mostly” undamaged.
    I just wanted to say thank you for this. I needed it.

  6. Alcoholism says:

    We just discussed this last night in group. Everytime someone relapses, which is all to frequently, we have to go over what happened and devise tactics to defeat it next time. Sometimes that means re-visiting the basics and sometimes it gets a lot more complicated. Anyway, thanks for sharing.

  7. James says:

    …wow – that was shocking and depressing.
    But the research that indicates long-term sobriety can lead to any kind of neurogenesis is a real incentive to stay off the stuff for ever!!

  8. JBR says:

    I stumble upon this while just trying to take in some info about alcohols effects on the brain. I am only 23, and aside from my looks, NOT a head banging idiot at parties, and truly drink alone and have had problems with binge drinking. As mentioned, I use it for reason #2. However, growing sick and tired… of being sick and tired I decided to drop the alcohol because my head is almost always in a fog. I have Asperger’s and that leaves me with enough weird issues to begin with, and this continual brain fart I’m in really convinced me– this is doing more than take me away from my anxiety and provide a better nights sleep.

    Alcohol is such an ugly road. I just hope my brain isn’t screwed like those blue images. Thanks for a good read with good media. =)

  9. Pete Walker says:

    I went through alcoholism treatment decades ago and now I’m going for a lifetime sober. About a year ago I retired and researched all the questions about life that always bugged me. I’ve got all those questions answered to my satisfaction, leading to new ones in a good way. By researching those questions I went from a Christian to an atheist and from a neo-liberal to an anarcho-capitalist.

    I’m writing a book about social engineering and plan to include your post’s brain scan photo in my draft version. That’s okay with you, right?

  10. Hi Pete,

    It sounds like we’ve had a similar intellectual journey. As for the graphic, I originally found it using an image search on Google images, and I don’t remember the source. Since I don’t own it in any way, whether you use it is up to you, but I certainly wouldn’t mind. 🙂

  11. EF says:

    Stumbled on this post…very well written and helpful. Similar to JBR above, tired of being in a fog. Thank you for writing this.

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