At What Point Does Alcohol Cause Brain Damage?

Actually, this question is specifically in response to something I once heard a college professor say. He said when drinking alcohol, if you feel even the slightest bit tipsy, you have already caused brain damage. I forget his exact words (this was quite a while ago, BTW). But it was words to that effect. Once you feel the slightest effect, you have brain damage.

He then went on to say, there are many better ways to get a natural, healthy high, like thru running (oh, sure:p).

Anyways, it was clearly a cryptic reference. But does anyone here know what he was referring to? It really has me worried, even now. I don’t usually drink to excess. But still, we have have that slight buzz. Even after one drink, or maybe two.

Also, you realize, as soon as you smoke one cigarette, or have one drink–or even just yawn–you are potentially killing off billions of brain cells. Simply put, we all are born with far more brain cells than when we die. So I assume he meant even one drink can cause substantial(?) brain damage.

Please answer soon. As I said, this one still has me worried.


IMO, if you even consider running to exercise, you already have brain damage. :stuck_out_tongue:

Of course, I may be wrong.

Just a bit of personal experience, your results may be different: When I was a serious chess player, I found that a single beer would drop my playing abilities a full class down, for a couple days while the stuff filtered out. So I would say there is a temporary reduction in brain function due to alcohol, and this effect lasts well past any drunkenness or hangover.

Yes, you’re wrong.

Though I may be a wee bit biased.

Any amount of alcohol can cause short-term impairment but that is not at all the same thing as brain damage. Long-term heavy drinking can cause brain damage (or more accurately, structural changes), but if your friend claims that a moderate amount of alcohol resulting in even the slightest effect causes brain damage, then he/she needs to cite a source.

I often wonder this about my Father he is clearly an alcoholic and has told me he drinks on average 8 beers a day but I suspect it’s really more and he also drinks hard liquor. He has been drinking since he was legally able to and probably before I imagine. He’s a pretty smart guy and has a college degree and has worked as a stock broker and currently works in an area of construction that is inherently very dangerous and involves a lot of pre-planning. So far as I can tell he doesn’t appear to have really slipped mentally, every now and then he’ll seem to take a second to recall something, but don’t we all. I don’t think drinking has been damaging to his brain as far as problem solving and intellect, but I do feel sometimes it’s changed his emotional intelligence and thought processes in his relations with others.

I was going to post a reply but I forgot what I was going to say.

Hic!! Cheers.

Professor in what? English?

The runner’s high is more analogous to heroin than alcohol. Opiates act on the endorphin system, not alcohol. It is also thought to involve other systems, including the endogenous cannabinoid system.

You can get Korsakoff’s but that’s not a direct result of drinking, usually involving poor diet as well. Otherwise, no alcohol does not kill brain cells.

Or as one old joke goes, killing off brain cells is good because like when the lion takes down the weak gazelle, it is improving the overall strength of the herd :smiley:

Liver. Not brain. That red floppy thing in your belly that you never think about.

It’s times like this I share Cliff Claven’s (Cheers) theory:

I should’ve mentioned, he was a professor of psychology. (That is why we were talking about alcohol and brain damage: psychology-brain-brain damage. Get it:)?)

Running has been very good to me.

For example, a few beers can help you fall asleep. Running does that for me- it has made my heartbeat rather pronounced, such that when it is quiet and dark and I am laying still, not only can I hear it clearly, I can feel the throbbing throughout the trunk of my circulatory system. I think there is a hypnotic effect to this, and I fall asleep every time.

Running also seems to be a mood-enhancer. I started running during a lousy time in my life. Suddenly it became a happy time in my life, even though I really hadn’t yet solved my problems.

OTOH, x-rays show that I have lost some disc height at my L5 vertebrae. The docs think I have a pinched nerve, I’ll know when I get the MRI results on Monday. The treatment is physical therapy and steroid injections, but those won’t entirely resolve the root of the problem. I’m 43 and have been running for 11, 12 years.