Generally speaking, we think of chronic alcohol drinking as being associated with alcohol addiction or alcoholism. This is far from the truth. Chronic consumption of alcohol refers to a consistent intake, be that weekly or daily, and could mean one drink or many drinks on a consistent basis. This is much more commonplace than we may realize. Think of folks who enjoy one glass of wine or one beer after work five days a week. Think of those who drink heavily every weekend. Chronic is not necessarily problematic, however, from a neurological perspective, chronic alcohol consumption has shown distinct and definitive changes in the neurocircuits and neurochemistry of the brain. Those who chronically drink show higher stress and anxiety when not drinking and decreased mood and overall wellbeing when not drinking. This means that chronic alcohol consumption actually changes the chemistry of the brain in a way that causes these increases and decreases even when drinking has stopped. So, in order to get back to baseline, a person is then compelled to drink even more and the cycle continues (Huberman, 2023). This is an important thing to note for those who regularly consume alcohol, as these changes are dramatic ones that have an overall negative impact on health.

Sources

Huberman, Andrew (Host) 2023. The Huberman Lab [podcast]

Written by Nicole Geddie –¬†Graduate Student in Mental Health Counseling