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Your Brain On Froffs: How Alcohol Affects Your Brain

Author: The Simple Bit

Category: Science

What happens to your noggin during, after and waaaay after you drink?

The Simple Bits

  • Booze affects your reaction times, concentration, balance, coordination and even your speech.
  • Alcohol is a diuretic. So it makes you wee.
  • As your body processes alcohol, a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde builds up in your blood.
  • In the long term, drinking heavily is bad for many of your vital organs, including your ol’ noggin.
  • ..think before you drink. Ok?

Hi. We’ve heard you enjoy the odd drink. Ok, that’s fine. Almost 80% of Aussies over 18 drink occasionally. About 20% of drinkers drink more than the recommended two standard drinks a day. So it’s safe to say you and friends get on the froffs. But do you know what that’s doing to your brain? And what will it all add up to as you get older? Well, we at the Simple Bit aren’t here to freak you out, we just want to give you the facts.

In the moment

It’s Friday night. Gibbo has just slid another round across the table. You know you probably don’t need it (because you’ve already had more than the four drinks that the Government’s NHRMC guidelines recommend) but you take it anyway. You’re also dancing on the pool table. Which isn’t something you’d normally do. That’s because alcohol affects your cognitive skills, including things like your judgement, while decreasing your inhibitions and increasing impulsivity.

You get back to telling the story you were telling before the pool table dance. But instead of saying ‘then I found twenty bucks’, you say ‘thn I flnd thrdldld’. That’s because the alcohol (which is a depressant) is slowing down the chemical signals between your brain and your body. You get on the waters, and the effects start to subside, which is good news. But there’s still tomorrow to contend with, my friend.

You look after you brain, we look after your insurance.

The morning after

Alcohol continues to affect your brain and your body well after you’ve stopped drinking. Because alcohol is a diuretic, it makes you wee more. All those regular trips to the bathroom and a night of sweating it out on the pool table can leave you dehydrated. If that isn’t enough, a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde builds up in your blood as your body processes that booze. So it’s this, along with interrupted sleep cycle and changes to your brain chemistry, that lead to that seedy hungover feeling. We probably don’t need to give you the laundry list, but you know… banging headache, dodgy guts, all that stuff.


Because alcohol is a diuretic, it makes you wee more.


You, my friend are hung over. And your brain isn’t firing. And you’re not alone here, either. The bill for hangover-related reduced job productivity and straight up sick days run as high as $148 billion a year in the U.S. alone.

Long term

So that’s the night of and the morning after. But what about the futuuuuuuure? Well, we know that long-term heavy drinking can result in alcohol-related brain impairment. It can affect cognitive functions like memory and information processing as well as balance and coordination, even speech and mood. Beyond that, there is still a whole heap don’t know about the long term effects of these types of alcohol use on the brain. So to be on the safe side, it might be worth taking a break, or at very least sticking to the recommended guidelines and having no more than four standard drinks on one occasion.

In short, say no to Gibbo every now and then.