When many people think of the effects of alcohol, they think about the physical effects it has on the body, such as liver damage. However, you may not have thought of many psychological effects.
In many cases, the psychological effects of alcohol are much more damaging and painful to you than the effects that you already know about.
Here is a look at some of the psychological effects of alcohol on your body:
Alcohol is a depressant. This means that once it begins circulating in the system, it will decrease the activity within the nervous system of your brain. For this reason as you drink alcohol you may notice that you start to have more feelings of depression or become entrenched in a depression as a result of the drinking.
Many make the mistake of thinking they can “drown their sorrows” by drinking more to make the feelings of sadness and uselessness go away. If this describes you, what you don’t realize is you are just making the situation worse and causing your depression to become deeper and last longer.
If you are like many people, as you consume large amounts of alcohol you will become stressed from the impact of the drug. While you may find the buzz from the alcohol enjoyable for a while, it will give way to a series of stresses on your system that will manifest psychologically. From a general feeling of discontent to restlessness, nightmares and even overwhelming fear there are a number of feelings of anxiety that can come from your alcohol usage.
Have you noticed your family members are treating you differently? It may be because you have changed in how you interact with them. Alcohol can cause massive personality changes that you may not even see. Once you become intoxicated, what were your usual personality traits may change dramatically. You may become selfish, egotistical or even angry about your life and everything in it.
Aggression and mood swings are some of the most common traits. These changes are brought on by the alcohol’s effect on serotonin in your body. Serotonin is a chemical in your body that transmits signals relating to mood to your brain. When its job is weakened by alcohol, moods and emotions can get out of control.
Another common personality change brought on by alcohol is a deterioration of morals. As alcohol affects the body, it acts to slow the responses of the synapses in the brain. This slowing down of the brain’s circuitry decreases thinking and reasoning. For this reason, when you are intoxicated, you may be willing to do and say things you would not usually do or say if you were thinking clearly.
Once you become dependent on alcohol (whether you realize it or not) you will start to become obsessed with drinking. While many think a few drinks are not dangerous, to someone who is alcohol dependent or becoming alcohol dependent, there is no difference between getting those next few drinks, and a drug addict who is looking for their next hit.
Your obsession can lead to a loss of other interests in your life and a focus only on how you are going to get another drink, while all along denying there is a problem. Generally, you will not realize you are being pulled into an obsession until it is too late.
Just as you would expect in any other type of addict, those who drink a lot of alcohol go through a number of denial issues. If you have heard from those who you love that you may be drinking too much, you really should listen to them.
Often, you will not even notice you are becoming more and more intoxicated on a regular basis, because you are too close to the problem. Alcohol dependency is a progressive illness and you may not be able to see what it is doing to you
in the same way someone else can. Just like any other disease, alcohol dependency is a progressive disease. The longer and more you drink, the more pronounced the
effects will be on your system.
Additionally, these psychological effects of alcohol are not felt only while you are drinking, or the morning after. They can continue for a number of days or weeks after you have consumed the alcohol.
The Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand (ALAC), an independent body to encourage responsible use and minimize the misuse of alcohol has a website with a lot of information about the effects of alcohol and potential solutions for dealing with your drinking problem.
They state that many people use low doses of alcohol for relaxation, to relieve tension, nervousness and stress. However, some people find that drinking alcohol actually stimulates stress hormones, actually causing a lot more stress than anticipated. Additionally, if you use alcohol as a way of dealing with stress and tension without addressing the underlying causes, you are in danger of becoming dependent on alcohol. If this is your only ‘strategy’ of stress reduction, you may feel stuck without it.
Dependency on alcohol, as with any drug, results in you needing more and more of the substance to achieve the same effect and causing you withdrawal style symptoms if you do not get your hit or dose. In people who drink heavily, alcohol commonly causes mood disorders, including depression, anxiety and psychosis (a mental illness defined by changes in personality, a distorted sense of reality, and delusions).
Alcohol abuse and dependency are also common in people with pre-existing mental health conditions.