Don’t risk your mental health

Have you ever heard the joke about how drinking too much can kill brain cells?

Turns out that might not be a joke!  Turns out that is not just something that we talk about and then carry on drinking too much.  Turns out there is a very real risk that alcohol kills off the valuable brain cells.  What if we can’t afford to lose the brain cells that are important for mental health?

I know that we have millions and millions of brain cells to spare, and if we lose a few, then new ones can step up and replace the dead ones.  But what if alcohol can selectively kill off brain cells that are important to ward off anxiety or to stop us from developing depression, or prevent the early onset of dementia?

We should be concerned about mental health

In particular we should be worried about the effect that binge drinking has on our mental health.

The problem with alcohol is that we tend to drink too much alcohol in order to become intoxicated.  Why not just have a couple of drinks and then stop drinking?  We can’t stop drinking because alcohol is an addictive substance that changes the way our brain works, and after we have a few drinks, our inhibitions break down, and our cultural conditioning towards drinking too much takes over.  In most western societies, there seems to be a culture of not only drinking, but drinking to excess.

The problem with alcohol is so widespread that most people no longer understand what is a safe level of consumption of alcohol, and what is considered to be binge drinking.  Most people tend to underestimate exactly how much alcohol they have consumed, and of course, the problem with alcohol is that we a reduced ability to remember what happened when we drink too much.

The National Drug Foundation describes binge drinking as:

“drinking too much alcohol in a short space of time with the intent to become intoxicated.”

The problem is that when we try to define limits around drinking too much alcohol, we find that most people are defensive about their behaviour.  Some people exceed the limit of daily alcohol intake, and some people cross the line in terms of how much they drink in a short space of time.  Either way, it is likely that most people who drink alcohol are drinking to excess and regularly cross the line in terms of what is considered safe, and what is likely to be drinking too much alcohol.

Killing off brain cells is not a joke

If we think that having too much to drink and “killing off brain cells” is funny, then we need to think again.

It is becoming increasingly clear that drinking too much alcohol is contributing to mental illness.  It can be a bit like a detonator setting off a charge.  If a person is prone to anxiety, or has a tendency towards depression, then these issues can be successfully treated or managed such that the person can live a normal and functional life.  But when drinking too much becomes an issue, then the risk of depression and other mental health issues is greatly increased.  In other words, by adding alcohol to a risky situation is almost certain to bring that issue to the surface.

“It appears that joking about killing off brain cells by drinking too much is no longer a joke”

The problem with alcohol is that it is more than likely responsible for selectively killing off neurons in the brain, and these brain cells are not replaceable.  Neurons can not simply regrow.

Alcohol and Mental Health

The alarming rise in mental health issues is a problem across all demographics in our society.  So both young and older people who drink to much alcohol are showing the same increase in mental health risks, and it is the same situation for both males and females.  Mental health practitioners are observing increased issues right across the spectrum of society, and it is no surprise that binge drinking too often can also be seen to have increased across a wide range of our society.

Alcohol is a high risk for young people

The problem with alcohol killing off brain neurons is particularly concerning among young people.  The human brain is still growing and developing through the teenage years, and may not reach full development until into the 20’s.  If drinking too much alcohol becomes a problem during these formative years, then not only is the development of brain neuron cells impacted, but also the linkages between brain cells, and ultimately leads to anxiety and depression later in life.

But it is the same for older drinkersalcohol and mental health

If current generations of youth seem to be binge drinking, then it was not really any different for older generations, who probably experienced drinking at a similar age.  That is the problem with alcohol, because it is so widely accepted in our society, that parents tend not to actively discourage their kids from drinking alcohol, rather they prefer to ensure that youth “know how to handle their drink.”

This social acceptance of drinking alcohol actually serves to ensure that the problem is passed onto future generations, rather than trying to put the brakes on.

As we get older, we begin to change the way we think about drinking, and for some people, drinking is seen as a way of escaping from life’s pressures.  Unfortunately, drinking too much alcohol does not relieve stress, and it only makes the problem worse.  If there is a risk of increased mental health issues, drinking too much alcohol as we get older will only increase the problems.

Alcohol is a drug, and too easily it becomes the drug of choice

Could you imagine a situation where other addictive and harmful drugs were actually made legal in society?  Can you imagine the damage that could be done to young people if ice or methamphetamine were commonly accepted into our sports clubs, our social clubs, our families, and god forbid, on our TV screens?

If that seems too dramatic, then consider the damage currently being done to our society every day.  Drinking too much alcohol is the number one factor for accidents causing admission to Emergency Departments, alcohol is involved in a huge percentage of domestic violence situations, and drinking too much alcohol is a negative factor in destroying lives, relationships, careers, and families.

Alcohol is worsening alcohol-fuelled harm

I saw some statistics from the Foundation of Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) that many people have increased their alcohol consumption to try to cope with the additional stress that we are all feeling right now.  And there has also been an associated rise in family violence and other knock on effects that come with drinking.

You can see the statistics here for yourself –

Beware of Alcohol and Mental Health

If you don’t believe me, just ask emergency response workers about what they see every weekend.

Drinking too much alcohol causes more damage to our society than all the other drugs put together.

If the problem with alcohol is too overwhelming for us to deal with as a society, then the only way is to fix the problem one step at a time.  Let’s start with our own family first.  Don’t make the mistake of providing social acceptance of alcohol to your kids.  Let us show you how to break the cycle of drinking too much alcohol.

If you would like to try out our online course to assist with getting the upper hand on alcohol, and putting it where it belongs in your life (ideally, out of it!), then here are the details, below.

Help to Stop Drinking

Sonya and I have poured our hearts and learnings into this neat online course:

How to Stop Drinking Alcohol and Love Being Free

And you can try it out for only $1 for the first month!