Consumption of alcohol, a central nervous system depressant, affects one’s brain and behavior. The effects of alcohol may be affected by a person’s age, gender, physical condition, amount of food eaten, and other drugs taken.
Low alcohol consumption may cause a relaxing effect, reduce tension and lower inhibitions. This is why some find a glass of wine or a small bottle of beer to be refreshing. However, even small amounts can reduce concentration, slow down reflexes, impair reaction time and reduce coordination. This can be particularly dangerous when doing tasks that require attention, such as driving.
In moderate amounts, alcohol consumption can lead to slurred speech, drowsiness and possible emotional outbursts. Heavy alcohol consumption may result to violent tendencies, aggression, breathing difficulties, unconsciousness, and coma.
Chronic alcohol abuse causes damage to the frontal lobes of the brain, overall reduction in brain size and increase in the size of the ventricles. It also results to alcoholism or addiction to alcohol that often creates several different health problems, such as vitamin deficiency, impaired memory, amnesia and disorientation.
The intake of alcohol during pregnancy may also affect the baby’s brain. Babies born to mothers who drink alcohol during pregnancy may have smaller heads and brains, a certain degree of mental retardation, hyperactivity, poor coordination and abnormal facial features.