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How Quickly Do Alcoholic Drinks Take Effect?

Many people enjoy indulging in an alcoholic drink every now and then. In fact, over 85 percent of adults have had an alcoholic beverage at some point in their lives. Have you ever stopped to wonder, however, just how quickly alcohol affects the human brain? Dr. Armin Biller, an expert on cerebral metabolism at the Department of Neuroradiology at Heidelberg University Hospital discovered just how quickly the brain reacts to alcohol, including its harmful effects.

It takes only six minutes for alcohol to reach and affect the human brain. Alcohol impacts how the brain processes and communicates information. A person’s judgment, memory, behavior, mood, reaction time, and coordination are all affected. Creatine, which protects cells, decreases as the consumption of alcohol increases, cites Dr. Biller. His study also concluded that alcohol changes cell membranes and brain metabolites, which could ultimately cause brain damage in a person who drinks excessively.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Alcohol poisoning occurs when a large amount of alcohol is consumed in a short period of time. This can affect the parts of the human brain that are responsible for a person’s life support functions, like breathing, heart rate, and body temperature. When alcohol poisoning occurs, a person may experience permanent brain damage and even death.

  • After just 20 minutes, the human liver will start to process alcohol, but can only metabolize one ounce every hour. Alcohol will also remain in the human bladder for 80 hours and can stay in hair follicles for up to three months.

  • Women who have one or two drinks per day have an increased risk of breast cancer.

  • Excessive drinking can result in Wernickle-Korsakoff Syndrome, a brain disorder caused by a lack of vitamin B1. This disorder is characterized by eyesight problems, confusion, and amnesia.

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