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Health Topics: Alcohol and the Brain

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

At a Glance

Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways and can affect the way the brain looks and works. Alcohol makes it harder for the brain areas controlling balance, memory, speech, and judgment to do their jobs, resulting in a higher likelihood of injuries and other negative outcomes. Long-term, heavy drinking causes alterations in the neurons, such as reductions in their size. 

Image courtesy of Drs. Adolf Pfefferbaum and Edith V. Sullivan.

image of the human brain
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