Is alcohol harmful for your brain?

  1. For an occasional/recreational user, is alcohol consumption once in a while harmful for your brain? I googled and i couldnt really find a straight answer, i read somewhere a while back though that Richard feynman never drank alcohol or did any drugs(he wanted to experiment with LSD) because he was afraid it would affect or harm his brain, even if ever so slighty.

    Is occasional drinking bad for your brain? just when i feel down or kinda depressed or stressed i feel like drinking just to loosen up and relax a little


    #edit


    here we go found this on wikipedia

    "According to Genius, the James Gleick–authored biography, Feynman tried LSD during his professorship at Caltech.[19] Somewhat embarrassed by his actions, Feynman largely sidestepped the issue when dictating his anecdotes; he mentions it in passing in the "O Americano, Outra Vez" section, while the "Altered States" chapter in Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! describes only marijuana and ketamine experiences at John Lilly's famed sensory deprivation tanks, as a way of studying consciousness.[17] Feynman gave up alcohol when he began to show early signs of alcoholism, as he did not want to do anything that could damage his brain—the same reason given in "O Americano, Outra Vez" for his reluctance to experiment with LSD"
     
  2. jcsd
  3. I am not sure if recreational use is harmful but I know for sure that this is very bad:
     
  4. lisab

    Staff: Mentor

    It's not the poison that kills, it's the dose.
     
  5. phinds

    phinds 8,339
    Gold Member

    A glass of red wine a day is supposedly good for you, but I'm not aware of any other forms of alcohol that are supposed to be GOOD for you, just bad, although probably not bad in moderation.
     
  6. what do you mean? Is this a symptom of something?
     
  7. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    Of course we are talking about healthy people that are not on any medications.

    Root is referring to drinking when you "feel down or stressed", that's not good.
     
  8. atyy

    atyy 9,937
    Science Advisor

    Any references?
     
  9. Greg Bernhardt

    Staff: Admin

    A drink is just fine to relax, but ultimately alcohol is a depressant. It can very quickly exacerbate the bad feelings and become destructive.
     
  10. Evo

    Staff: Mentor

    I am assuming you're not serious as you should already know all this. References for drug and alcohol interactions? Pick a drug.

    Drinking when you are depressed and stressed" Only about 38,400,000 results

    http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfoforall/problems/alcoholanddrugs/alcoholdepression.aspx
     
  11. Ivan Seeking

    Ivan Seeking 12,521
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Here is one study that focused on the effects of moderate drinking.

    http://www.bmj.com/content/308/6945/1663
     
  12. atyy

    atyy 9,937
    Science Advisor

  13. atyy

    atyy 9,937
    Science Advisor

    Let me note that it is not at all obvious that "feel down or stressed" is the same as "depressed".

    That was my original query. Was your wording imprecise, or is "depression" the same as feeling "down or stressed"?
     
  14. atyy

    atyy 9,937
    Science Advisor

  15. cobalt124

    cobalt124 153
    Gold Member

    Don't know whether or how bad it is for your brain, but I know it has the potential to be bad for you. Whatever you mean by "down or kinda depressed or stressed" and "loosen up and relax a little" drinking alcohol is a negative, avoiding response to the situation and can potentially lead to a path of alcohol dependence. Have an occasional drink because you want one, its the best reason.
     
  16. Supernova . . . that's an awful thing to do because it facilitates more drinking and alcohol+depression I believe IS bad for the brain. Know what you gotta' do when you're down and depressed (not clinically I mean), you gotta' be strong and look for healthy ways of dealing with it. Do you know exercise is a catharis? Does a body real good you know.

    In stead of alcohol, lemme' tell you what to do: devote a single (large) room in your place for exercising and put only three things in it: exercise equipment, sound system, and a nice rug and devote your life to health and fitness and I bet a dollar you're not gonna' be lookin' to alcohol to relieve your stress and I bet further your (mild) depression is going to just go away. :)

    Here's something I just happen to run across today about what it means to be healthy:

    http://www.askmen.com/sports/bodybuilding/what-it-means-to-be-healthy.html

    Edit:

    Dang it. Maybe I shouldn't be telling you your depression is just going to magically go away from exercising. But I tell you what, I'd much rather use it than alcohol to relieve my pain. My comments subject to approval by the medical pros in here, mods too I guess.
     
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2012
  17. I don't know the pharmacology behind alcohol so I can't answer the question but something I've thought about in the past is why don't they start adding hangover preventetive substances to alcoholic beverages. If I'm not mistaken, acetaldehyde (one of ethanols metabolites) is one of the main causes of the hangover, they could add something to help acetaldehyde be metabolised better. For example, they could add a compound that enhances the activity of acetaldehyde dehydrogenase. One obstacle there would be finding an inducer thats selective for that enzyme. They could also add the enzyme itself to the drink but I'd imagine producing an enzyme on a large scale for the purpose of adding to alcoholic drinks would be too expensive.

    There is a compound called disulfiram which inhibits acetaldehyde dehydrogenase, they prescribe it to recovering alcoholics because if one drinks while on it, they become violentally ill because of the excess acetaldehyde that builds up. I know that this isn't the only enzyme that disulfiram inhibits though. It also inhibits the enzyme that converts dopamine into norepinephrine. Prescribing a drug like that seems pretty dangerous and reckless to me, I'm surprised they haven't done away with it.
     
  18. It is not a healthy way to deal with stress, you will always have stress in your life and you will need to find a better coping mechanism if you don't want this to turn into an alcohol problem.

    Right now what you're doing is called self medicating. Remember that alcohol is habit forming. Try some of the suggestions you've read here, maybe get a self-help book that teaches cognitive therapy procedures and how to train yourself to control your thoughts (it doesn't mean lying to yourself or not feeling sad sometimes, it just means being aware of your thoughts and in complete control of them, which, if you've ever tried to meditate, you'll realize you are not).

    If this doesn't work talk to a doctor.

    This is called aversion therapy and is a form of classical conditioning, which means that theoretically after drinking once or twice every time you see alcohol your brain will make you feel nauseated even though your conscious mind knows that the alcohol was not the cause of the nausea. For this reason there wouldn't be any reason to keep the person on this medication for very long.
    As far as I know it is only done in severe cases, and obviously only at the behest of the patient.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aversion_therapy
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clasical_conditioning

    One thing I've always wondered though is whether or not it works very well with spirits, since they have very little smell or taste.

    An example of this that most people are familiar with is when you ate something and then got sick for unrelated reasons and then were never able to eat that thing again. E.g. When I was on holidays in America I drank cream soda and absolutely loved it, then I went whale watching and got very sea sick. Since then if I even think about cream soda I feel sick, even though I know it was the boat. This is automatic and there's no way to control it.
     
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