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Botswana Alcohol Aids Project

Brain damage from Drinking

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It Can Happen To You!

Brain damage is a common and potentially severe consequence of long-term, heavy alcohol consumption. Even mild-to-moderate drinking can adversely affect cognitive functioning (i.e., mental activities that involve acquiring, storing, retrieving, and using information).

Persistent cognitive impairment can contribute to poor job performance in adult alcohol abusers, and can interfere with learning and academic achievement in adolescents who have an established pattern of chronic drinking.

How Much Is Too Much?
Studies suggest that adult social drinkers who consume more than 21 drinks per week (or 3 drinks per day for 7 days) fit into the category of potential victims of alcohol caused brain damage. Long-term, light-to-moderate social drinkers have been found to fall into this category as well, showing cognitive deficits equivalent to those found in detoxified alcoholics. Although further research is needed to determine how a person's pattern of drinking is related to cognitive impairment, some deficits are possible even in people who are not heavy drinkers. In youth, the amount and speed of damage to the brain is increased because their body does not yet process alcohol efficiently and more alcohol directly impacts the brain.

A small but significant proportion of the heaviest chronic drinkers may develop devastating, irreversible brain-damage syndromes, such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a disorder in which the patient is incapable of remembering new information for more than a few seconds.

The CAT SCAN and other modern testing devices have greatly improved research in this and other areas. Research shows that every time a person drinks to the point of being drunk, approximately 100,000 brain cells are destroyed. Brain cells are the only cells in the body which do not recreate themselves. Once they are gone-they are gone for good.

Brain damage is a common and potentially severe consequence of long-term, heavy alcohol consumption. Even mild-to-moderate drinking can adversely affect cognitive functioning.

Alcohol's Effects on Brain Structure and Function
Results of autopsy studies show that patients with a history of chronic alcohol consumption have smaller, lighter, more shrunken brains than nonalcoholic adults of the same age and gender.

Alcohol Compounds Its Damage to the Brain
A compounded set of lesions caused to the brain by drinking alcohol may work together to disadvantage both types of functions according to research at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Alcohol's Effects on Brain Structure and Function
Results of autopsy studies show that patients with a history of chronic alcohol consumption have smaller, lighter, more shrunken brains than nonalcoholic adults of the same age and gender.

Alcohol Compounds Its Damage to the Brain
A compounded set of lesions caused to the brain by drinking alcohol may work together to disadvantage both types of functions according to research at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Alcohol Dementia
Long-term or excessive drinking can and does cause damage to the brain -- Neurological damage and memory loss. Some damage can repair itself, but some can become permanent.

Alcohol and Cognition
When health professionals encounter patients who are having cognitive difficulties, such as impaired memory or reasoning ability, alcohol use may be the cause.

Binge Drinking Affects Brain, Memory
Young people who binge drink could be risking serious damage to their brains now and increasing memory loss later in adulthood, according to research.

Cognitive Impairment and Recovery
Even mild-to-moderate drinking can adversely affect cognitive functioning -- mental activities that involve acquiring, storing, retrieving, and using information.

Female Drinking and Brain Damage
The latest studies show that females, even young women, face more brain damage than men who drink the same amount for the same period of time.

Images of Brain Damage
New innovations in imaging technology have helped alcohol researchers study how alcohol damages internal organs, such as the brain and the liver.

Losing Brain Function
A research study has found that the alcohol-damaged brain appears to compensate for alcohol-induced damage by "recruiting" other, unexpected brain regions, up to a point.

Moderate Alcohol Consumption Linked to Brain Shrinkage
A study by researchers found a link between low to moderate alcohol consumption and a decrease in the brain size of middle-aged adults. Brain atrophy is associated with impaired cognition and motor functions.

Damaging your baby's brain

Copyright 2004, Botswana Alcohol Aids Project - Jim MacDonald Webmaster. Contact Jim at djm@paonline.com