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Understanding the effects of alcohol

Many North Carolinians have a drink or two at a party, or enjoy a beer with friends at a picnic. In fact, as the American Addiction Centers notes, alcohol is often considered a social lubricant that allows people to ignore inhibitions and do things they would not normally do.  Although it creates feelings of pleasure and makes them feel happier, this is only in the short term, as the effects it has on the brain are directly related to whether a person’s blood alcohol content is still increasing, or if it is on the decline.

Aside from BAC, other factors that affect how the brain functions include how much and how often someone drinks, as well as how many years he or she has been drinking. Health, age, genetic factors and sex also influence the way the brain responds to alcohol. The presence of medication in the system may also exacerbate the effects.

Forbes magazine explains that the cerebellum is susceptible to changes in function when a person drinks alcohol. Since that portion of the brain is responsible for coordination and muscle activity, people who are drunk become off-balance and clumsy, and are not able to fully control their bodies.

The cerebral cortex is the gray matter that most people think of when picturing the brain, and it processes visual information, sounds, tastes and other stimuli detected by the senses. When alcohol inhibits this function, a person may not be able to interpret events correctly as they occur and may not respond in a timely way. 

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