Your Doctor

10 Things You Might Not Know About The Effects of Alcohol

Christmas is the season not only of goodwill, but also of back-to-back partying usually involving a tipple or two! We all know that alcohol in excess isn’t good for us, but here are a few facts from Your Doctor about alcohol that you may not know.

1. Your body may have different reactions to the same amount of alcohol depending on how stressful your day has been. 

2. The reason you can’t think clearly when you have drunk too much alcohol is because alcohol suppresses the production of glutamate. It acts like a sedative or depressor of your actions. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter which enables brain activity and energy which means it becomes hard to think clearly when its production is stunted.

3. When you drink lots of alcohol your brain starts to produce excess amounts of gamma-aminobutyric acid, which is a chemical that helps your body stay calm and relaxed throughout the day. When it’s produced in excess it makes you feel very tired and explains why many people pass out if they’ve had too much to drink. 

4. Alcohol increases the production of dopamine in your body which initially makes you feel good and the effect may be that you keep drinking to get more dopamine release, but at the same time you’re altering other brain chemicals that enhance feelings of depression.

5. It can take more than one hour to metabolize one unit of alcohol and depends on a number of body factors that can influence this. This is why when you drink excessively, you might feel like you’re fine for a while and only feel the effects much later.

6. Cheap alcohol is going to make your hangover worse. Cheap alcohol contains more “congeners” which are like poisons that your body cannot process. 

7. Sometimes we decide to have a coffee to “sober up” but coffee is a diuretic and is likely to make you even more dehydrated if you’ve been drinking a lot. 

8. Alcohol affects the cerebellum which controls movement and balance, resulting in us becoming unsteady and losing our balance.

9. Alcohol depresses nerve centres in the hypothalamus that control sexual arousal and performance. Whilst sexual urge may increase, this is likely to lead to a poorer sexual performance.

10. Alcohol is a diuretic because it affects our kidneys making us pee out more than we take in which is partly why you might need to go to the toilet so often when you drink and why you feel dehydrated the next day.

For more alcohol advice visit www.drinkaware.co.uk. Stay safe.