The effect alcohol has on your brain can kick in after only one or two drinks, but may last a lifetime.
The brain controls your body’s organs, generates muscle activity and drives the secretion of hormones, allowing you to respond to your environment in a quick and coordinated way.
But drinking alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways and its control over your body. It can change your mood and behaviour, and make it harder to think clearly and to move.
Even after only one or two drinks, a person may have slower reaction time, slurred speech, loss of balance and coordination, blurred vision and memory problems. (Generally, these symptoms should stop after a person’s body metabolises the alcohol.)
Drinking can lower your inhibitions
Alcohol depresses the cerebral cortex of the brain, which slows down the way your senses process information. This will decrease your inhibitions, and also make it difficult to think clearly.
Drinking can make you clumsy
Alcohol affects the brain’s cerebellum which controls movement and balance, meaning drinking makes it hard to move and stay upright.
Drinking affects your sexual urges and performance
Alcohol depresses the areas of the brain that control sexual urges and performance. Your sexual urge may increase in the short-term, but your performance will decrease overall.
Drinking makes you sleepy
Alcohol depresses your consciousness, lowers your body temperature and decreases your breathing – a life threatening combination.
For more information about the effects of alcohol on your body, check out our interactive tool.