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This Is How Alcohol Affects Your Brain (Simple Animation)

We pop the champagne to celebrate a momentous occasion. We sip whiskey to soothe the pain of a disappointing loss. We order a glass of wine to ease the awkwardness of a first date. And we cheers tequila shots while catching up with an old friend because, hey, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. We drink alcohol for a multitude of reasons—when life is good, when life is bad, when it’s Friday. But why do we turn to booze?

We can all agree that alcohol changes the way that we feel. But what is actually going on in the brain that makes us feel a certain way? AsapSCIENCE tackles this hot topic in their short animation, Your Brain on Drugs: Alcohol. They ask: “how could the ingestion of one simple substance so drastically change not only your actions, but thoughts and perceptions?”

Alcohol is one of the most widely used and abused drugs across the globe. When we drink alcohol, we’re able to put our stress, problems, and insecurities aside. We are free from the worries that weigh us down—at least for a little while.

How Does Alcohol Affect the Brain?

As we drink that beer, alcohol makes its way into the body and toward the brain. The way we feel changes when the alcohol interacts with neurons (brain cells). Specifically, alcohol “suppresses Glutamate transmission and enhances Gaba transmission, so you get less excitation and more inhibition.” When we are under the influence of alcohol, we perceive less and remember less.

Alcohol can sometimes appear to be a rather harmless substance that people use to celebrate together. But there can be great risk associated with the use of alcohol, and there are many people in the world struggling with alcohol use disorders. Has alcohol taken control of your life? If so, call and speak with one of our admissions navigators to begin your journey toward recovery.

Is Alcohol a Stimulant or a Depressant?

When you drink a small amount of alcohol—such as one glass of wine—you feel loose and energized. But when you have one-too-many glasses of wine, or a few-too-many shots of tequila, you feel tired and maybe even sad, sick, or angry. You’re not alone. Alcohol is classified as a depressant. However, alcohol is also an indirect stimulant. The effects of alcohol will vary depending on how much you are consuming and what your body is able to handle. It’s nature’s way of saying that when it comes to alcohol, less is always more.

We all have that one friend who gets drunk and repeats over and over again: I love you man! This is seriously the best night ever! Why does this happen? AsapSCIENCE explains: “while drunk, your Gaba channels are wide open, and combined with the lack of Glutamate, you begin to think very little but with great clarity… thinking clearly about almost nothing!”

Watch the full video to learn more:

How to Get Help for Alcohol Misuse

If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol misuse, rest assured that help is available and recovery is possible. Professional alcohol abuse treatment programs can start those suffering on the path to lives free from the torment of addiction. An admissions navigator with American Addiction Centers (AAC) can discuss your treatment options with you and answer any questions you may have about rehab. Please contact us free at at any time, day or night. You can also check your health insurance coverage using the form below.

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