The Effects of Alcohol on the Brain and Central Nervous System
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The Effects of Alcohol on the Brain and Central Nervous System

Alcohol puts us at high risk of developing serious health complications to our brain and central nervous system. Over time, alcohol impairs the part of the brain that forms new memories and interferes with the way the brain functions to keep us alive. When we drink too much alcohol, we can experience a blackout, which is characterized by amnesia during intoxication. If we blackout, we do not forget what happened because the memories during that time never existed in the first place.

Alcohol Overdose

Passing out from drinking too much alcohol is a symptom of alcohol overdose, also referred to as alcohol poisoning. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states, “An alcohol overdose occurs when there is so much alcohol in the bloodstream that areas of the brain controlling basic life-support functions—such as breathing, heart rate, and temperature control—begin to shut down.” Overdosing on alcohol occurs when a person’s level of intoxication interferes with the basic physiological functions that keep them alive.

During a blackout, the memory storage process shuts down. Blackouts are caused by a chemical disruption in the brain’s hippocampus, which is where memories are developed. Alcohol interferes with the receptors that carry signals to that part of the brain and disrupts the memory-making process. A person who experiences a blackout can still have the ability to maintain language and motor skills, but his or her brain loses the capability to form new memories.

How Alcohol Affects the Brain and Central Nervous System (CNS)

Alcohol affects neurotransmitters in the brain, such as glutamate, which governs brain function. If you drink enough alcohol, its depressant effects can reduce your breathing and heart rate, and can be deadly. Alcohol actually sedates the brain.

Alcohol is a depressant that makes an impact on your CNS, which is composed of your brain and spinal cord. These effects can disrupt mental functions, such as decision-making and physical ones like the ability to stay alert, walking, talking, and movement.

Information from Science Netlinks states, “the CNS is responsible for taking in information through the senses, motor function, thinking, understanding, and reasoning. This system also controls emotion. The CNS includes the brain, the spinal cord, and the nerves that come from it.” Alcohol makes nerve cells in the brain less excited, leading them to slow down.

Treatment for Addiction

If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction or a substance use disorder, get help today. Blackouts and passing out from drinking alcohol is life-threatening. If you or someone you know has experienced alcohol-induced blackouts or is struggling with alcohol use, get help now. Make the life-saving decision to get help today.


Daylight Recovery Services takes a holistic approach to substance abuse and co-occurring disorder treatment to address the physical, psychological, and spiritual facets of addiction and recovery. We ensure clients emerge from our facility with the proper tools and confidence in their ability to lead a healthy, enjoyable life. If you or someone you love is ready to break free of the bondage of addiction, contact one of our recovery experts today at 1-833-2DAYLIGHT.

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