Today alcohol is consumed in very large amounts, we drink it almost everywhere for every reason, for dinner, for a small brunch, a gathering with our friends or family, or when someone pays us a visit, we cheer each other with our friends when we go out, we even started to drink it when we celebrate birthdays, graduations, weddings and many other events.
It doesn’t matter if you have one or two drinks or you want to drink a few more to feel more relaxed and free to dance on the dance floor, or sing with your friends at the bar, you need to know that even the smallest amount of alcohol is affecting our behavior and our brain function.
The Science of the Effect of Alcohol on the Brain
The alcohol belongs in the depressant ingredients and it is classified as one, just like the caffeine is a stimulant contained in tea and coffee. Even if it is classified as one, when people drink it they often feel excitement, a spark of energy and positive “buzz” everyone catches when we drink alcohol. How come something that is supposed to make you dizzy and sleepy, makes you energized and make you dance and sing along with your friends for a long period?
The alcohol belongs in the depressant group because it is targeting the chemical GABA, which is the main neurotransmitter in our brains. Once it is affected, it affects our behavior, mood, arousal and the neuropsychological function as well.
How Alcohol acts as a Stimulant
The depressant that is supposed to make you sleepy, is in fact everyone’s most liked liquid courage! When you start to drink, as the amount of alcohol in the blood rises it is acting like a stimulant. As you drink there are some changes that are happening in your brain:
- The activity in the cerebellum is decreased, which is the area that is responsible for our motor control.
- The region which is housing the hippocampus -- the temporal cortex, its activity is also decreased. This so called hippocampus is the area where new memories are formed, and if you think a little bit that is why when we drink there are some blackouts and in the morning it is hard to remember what really happened that night.
- The activity of the prefrontal cortex of our brain is also decreased, which is the are that is responsible for violence, decision making and rational thought.
- Norepinephrine levels are elevated, and this is a chemical which is responsible for the impulsive behavior and excitement.
This actually explains everything. This is why people are more likely to harm or hurt themselves while they drink, this is why people are braver and agree to certain things that they never would, and this is why they often forget and they have blackouts from the night they drank.
How Alcohol acts as a Depressant
In the moment you stop to drink, there is a sedative effect on our brain because the amount of alcohol in our blood is falling. And this is the main reason why we feel a little bit sleepy after a few glasses of wine, or sometimes even pass out when we stop drinking at the end of a party or a night.
The Spiritual Affect of Alcohol
According to some studies, people who are more spiritual are affected by the alcohol in a different way compared to people who are not spiritual. At the University of Kentucky, researchers have concluded that people who are religious, are more aggressive when they are drunk, than people who are not religious. But according to another study which was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol, it was reported that people who were religious, who meditated or prayed recovered from alcoholism much easier than others.
There was an article written by “Psychology Today” in which was discussed about the spirituality of children, and how we lose that child spirit as we grow older and become adults. One of the main factors for losing this child spirit are the alcohol and drugs, and the pressure we feel to start using these substances.
Drinking alcohol is mostly used because adults want to fill in the spiritual void that occurs after a while, and they focus on the destructive, short-term goals, costly, instead of focusing on the long-term journey of live, and finding purpose and happiness within their souls.
The Bottom Line
No matter if you are approaching the consumption of alcohol and drunkenness from a spiritual or scientific background, we all agree for the same thing, that the consumption of alcohol, no matter if it’s a glass or two, it affects everything we do, how we act, think and affects most of our abilities, whether if it is to walk down a set of stairs or texting your ex.
Whether you agree on this or not, the regular alcohol consumption is a huge part of our everyday society. Remember this, you need to have limits when you drink alcohol, never drive if you had a few drinks, and don’t you even think about posting something on the social medias that you will regret when you get sober!