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Effects of alcohol on the nervous system

Alcohol is a drug that is legalized and socially accepted. In fact, it is the most widespread drug in the world and we use it frequently in meetings, hangouts with friends, family meals, and so on. However, do we know the effects of alcohol?

The effects of alcohol begin with a feeling of excitement and euphoria that makes us feel better when we start to drink it. Unfortunately, many people use it to disinhibit or calm down. However, the actual effects on the body are not good at all. Alcohol is a poison that can cause alterations in all systems. In fact, there are many diseases that are related to the chronic intake of this substance.

For example, alcohol is highly associated with liver dysfunction. This reality has spread among the population. However, few people know about the effects of alcohol on the nervous system, for example. In this article, we explain them to you.

What are the effects of alcohol?

The effects of alcohol on the nervous system can occur both acutely and chronically. The quantity ingested and the time that this situation is maintained are decisive. In general, we distinguish between acute intoxication and chronic alcoholism.

Acute intoxication

Acute intoxication occurs when, in a short period of time, very large amounts of alcohol are ingested. At first, this intoxication produces pleasant symptoms, such as the disinhibition that we mentioned before.

On the other hand, it is necessary to mention that, although many people use alcohol to socialize, it affects others in the opposite way. Many people become aggressive and irritable.

However, the effects of alcohol in this case can cause an ethyl coma. This is a state of loss of consciousness due to this substance that can endanger life.

Among the effects of alcohol, it stands out that it is a depressant of the respiratory system. This means that, in these cases, death can be caused by a failure to breathe.


Alcoholism occurs when the person feels an urgent need to drink alcohol which leads them to do so constantly. One of the effects of alcohol is that it is capable of producing physical dependence. This causes alcoholics to suffer withdrawal symptoms when they cannot take it.

  • Alcoholism is associated with other processes that, when combined, lead to the development of certain serious neurological disorders. These circumstances are the following:
  • Other organs such as the liver are affected . Numerous studies show that liver degeneration can cause damage to the nervous system.
  • It is very common for blows and head injuries to occur due to the effects of alcohol. This can cause bruising and bleeding in the brain which also impairs its functioning.

For all these reasons, the effects of alcohol on the nervous system translate into numerous diseases. Next, we explain the most outstanding ones.

Effects of alcohol: neurological diseases

Below we will mention those conditions that are associated with chronic alcohol consumption, keep reading!


Nearly 10% of chronic alcoholics suffer from dementia. This implies that these people suffer from a deterioration of all their cognitive functions, such as memory and social skills. In these cases, the person loses the ability to perform complex activities. It can also cause changes in your personality and mood.

Cerebellar degeneration

The cerebellum is in charge of coordinating movements, something that could be affected after chronic alcohol consumption.

The cerebellum is a part of the nervous system that is responsible for muscle coordination and other movements that we perform involuntarily. It is estimated that around 50% of alcoholics suffer damage to it. They end up having difficulties speaking, and walking and even start to have tremors.

Alcoholic polyneuropathy

Another of the effects of alcohol is alcoholic polyneuropathy. It is a disease in which some nerves degenerate and cannot maintain their functions well. It is associated with a vitamin deficiency secondary to alcohol intake.

These people gradually begin to lose strength in their limbs. In addition, they feel paresthesias (tingling sensation on the skin) and pain in those same extremities. In the end, it affects the way you walk.

Effects of alcohol: Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

This pathology produces an alteration of consciousness that can go as far as a coma. It is caused because the brain does not metabolize glucose correctly and certain toxic substances accumulate in it.

The effects of alcohol on the nervous system are varied and complex. It is important to know that it produces damage both when it is limited to acute intoxication and when the person is a chronic alcoholic.

Therefore, if you think you have an addiction to alcohol or drink it often, try to stay away from it. Both your doctor and the many support groups that exist today can help you.

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