Alcohol can trigger modifications in the structure and function of the developing brain, which continues to mature into a person's mid 20s, and it may have consequences reaching far beyond teenage years.
In adolescence, brain growth is defined by remarkable changes to the brain's architecture, neural connections ("electrical wiring"), and physiology. These changes in the brain affect everything from emerging sexuality to emotions and judgment.
Not all parts of the juvenile brain mature simultaneously, which might put an adolescent at a disadvantage in specific scenarios. The limbic areas of the brain mature earlier than the frontal lobes. The limbic areas control feelings and are associated with a juvenile's reduced level of sensitivity to risk. The frontal lobes are responsible for self-control, judgment, reasoning, analytic skills, and impulse control. Differences in maturation amongst parts of the brain can result in rash decisions or acts and a neglect for consequences.
Ways Alcohol Alters the Brain
Alcohol alters a juvenile's brain growth in numerous ways. The results of juvenile alcohol consumption on specialized brain activities are detailed below.
Alcohol is a central nervous system sedative. Alcohol can seem to be a stimulant because, before anything else, it depresses the part of the human brain that regulates inhibitions.
CEREBRAL CORTEX-- Alcohol reduces the cerebral cortex as it processes details from an individual's senses.
CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM-- When an individual thinks of something he desires his body to do, the central nervous system-- the brain and the spine-- sends a signal to that portion of the physical body. Alcohol slows down the central nervous system, making the person think, speak, and move slower.
FRONTAL LOBES -- The human brain's frontal lobes are very important for organizing, creating concepts, decision making, and exercising self-control.
An individual might find it hard to control his or her feelings and urges once alcohol impacts the frontal lobes of the brain. The person might act without thinking or may even get violent. Drinking alcohol over a long period of time can harm the frontal lobes permanently.
HIPPOCAMPUS-- The hippocampus is the portion of the brain in which memories are created.
Once alcohol gets to the hippocampus, an individual may have trouble recollecting a thing he or she just learned, such as a person's name or a telephone number. This can occur after just one or two alcoholic beverages.
Drinking a great deal of alcohol quickly can trigger a blackout-- not being able to remember entire occurrences, like what she or he did the night before.
If alcohol injures the hippocampus, an individual may find it hard to learn and to hang on to knowledge.
CEREBELLUM-- The cerebellum is essential for coordination, ideas, and awareness. An individual may have difficulty with these abilities when alcohol enters the cerebellum. After consuming alcohol, a person's hands may be so unsteady that they can't touch or get hold of things normally, and they might fail to keep their equilibrium and fall.
HYPOTHALAMUS-- The hypothalamus is a small part of the brain that does an amazing variety of the body's housekeeping tasks. Alcohol frustrates the operation of the hypothalamus. After an individual drinks alcohol, blood pressure, hunger, being thirsty, and the impulse to urinate intensify while physical body temperature and heart rate decrease.
Alcohol in fact cools down the body. Consuming a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather can trigger a person's body temperature level to drop below normal.
An individual may have trouble with these skills when alcohol enters the cerebellum. After drinking alcohol, a person's hands may be so tremulous that they cannot touch or get hold of things properly, and they may fail to keep their balance and tumble.
After an individual drinks alcohol, blood pressure, hunger, being thirsty, and the urge to urinate increase while body temperature levels and heart rate decline.
Alcohol in fact cools down the physical body. Consuming a lot of alcohol outdoors in cold weather can trigger a person's physical body temperature level to drop below normal.
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