Category Archives: Research

Vic Health – How does Alcohol Affect the Brain

Author: VicHealth works with health promotion experts to create a Victoria where everyone can enjoy better health and wellbeing.
Any information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was originally published (29 June 2021).

 In Australia, it is recommended that adults consume no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 standard drinks per day to reduce the health risks from alcohol. With this is mind, it’s important to understand how exactly alcohol affects our brain and what implications this may have on our overall health.

In this article you’ll learn: 

  • Short and long-term effects of alcohol products
  • Alcohol and brain damage
  • Tips on cutting back on alcohol consumption

Be Healthy was created by VicHealth to provide helpful tips and advice on how you and your family can stay healthy. You can read more Be Healthy articles here.  

 Short and long-term effects of alcohol

Before looking into the short and long-term effects of alcohol on the brain, it’s important to know that alcohol effects every person differently. Your gender, mental and physical health, medical conditions and use of other drugs and medication all play a key role.

It’s also important to keep in mind that alcohol can affect you more quickly if you:

  • Drink on an empty stomach
  • Weigh less
  • Have a lower percentage of muscle
  • Are a young person

No matter how little or how much you drink, alcohol effects our whole brain matter, causing both short and long-term effects. Brain matter is a major component of our central nervous system and when negatively impacted, it can have various short- and long-term implications.

Short term effects can vary depending on the amount of alcohol products we drink, but can include:

  • An interrupted sleep which can in turn have a negative impact your mental wellbeing
  • Alcohol slows your body down and changes the chemical makeup in your brain
  • It can alter our mood, energy levels, concentration and memory
  • It can alter our judgement and movement, create slurred speech, nausea, and vomiting
  • Create difficulty breathing and even be the cause of coma or death

Long-term, alcohol can affect both our brain and other parts of our body and can cause:

  • Ongoing mental health conditions
  • An increased risk of diabetes and weight gain
  • Increased risk of a range of cancers
  • Heart issues, such as high blood pressure, heart damage and heart attacks
  • Liver failure
  • Brain related damage impairment (ARBI)
  • Fertility issues

While alcohol consumed at even moderate levels can have a negative impact on the brain, this can become more dramatic depending on how often a person consumes alcohol and the amount they drink on each occasion.

Alcohol and brain damage

Alcohol’s toxic effect can cause significant brain injury, referred to as alcohol related brain impairment (ARBI) and is more likely to occur if a person drinks heavily on an ongoing basis over a long period.

ARBI can also occur over a shorter time frame, and this is dependent on the amount a person consumes. This way of drinking is often referred to as ‘binge drinking’ and that is when a person drinks a lot of alcohol in a single session on a semi regular basis.

Brain injury can be caused by alcohol because it:

  • has a toxic effect on the central nervous system (CNS)
  • results in changes to metabolism, heart functioning and blood supply
  • interferes with the absorption of vitamin B1 (thiamine), which is an important brain nutrient
  • may be associated with poor nutrition
  • can lead to falls and accidents that injure the brain

Does alcohol kill our brain cells?

Despite alcohol causing brain damage, it does not kill our brain cells. It does however damage the ends of neurons called dendrites, making it hard for neurons to relay messages to one another.

Tips for cutting back on alcohol

Alcohol products are heavily promoted yet alcohol companies often downplay the harm they can cause to our health. To cut through the spin, here are some tips from VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio on what we can do to reduce the harm from alcohol:

  • Learn to reward yourself or unwind without alcohol – you can get active, revisit old hobbies or try a new one, get a massage, call a friend or relax with a book.
  • Mix up your routine – go for a walk around the block instead of having a wine after work or replace your alcoholic beverage with a peppermint tea or soda water.
  • Focus on what you’ll gain by cutting back – you might be motivated by saving money, boosting your memory and concentration, sleeping better and having more energy and patience to do things you enjoy.
  • The Daybreak app from Hello Sunday Morning also helps – it provides confidential health advice and a supportive community to help people reduce their drinking and protect their health.

Read more articles like this:

You might also be interested in these

Picture of different alcohol beverages, from left to right shows a glass of red wine, a orange coloured cocktail, glass of beer, clear cocktail with herbs, another glass of darker beer, red coloured cocktail, small wine glass and martini glass with pink liquid.

Alcohol

02 Sep 2021

What is a standard drink size?

Young people using devices in a park

PREVENTING HARM FROM ALCOHOL

12 Mar 2021

Who is really influencing you?

Read More

Image of a sports bar

alcohol harm prevention

15 Dec 2020

Alcohol harm prevention in sports bars

Read More

A Celebration of World Mental Health Day 10 October 2021

 

This October: Look up, look out, and look forward forward!

Thank you for your wonderful video from the Inner South Family and Friends Group and see below a link to your video for download.

 

or click on the link below:
https://app.frame.io/reviews/ee146c53-412e-4fd6-9359-93646020755d/93695500-49ee-4dee-bbe8-a43661c8a668?version=3a45fd6d-8f0e-4f4c-b47b-8d1914816c04

Also, if you’re sharing on any social media platforms, remember to tag “@AUMentalHealth” and include “#LookAfterYourMentalHealthAustralia” and “#WMHD2021”.

From Nikki Hogan, Partnerships Manager and Lachlan Searle, Director, External Relations
Mental Health Australia

Inside Story – Troubled Minds 17 September 2021

A refuge: Sydney’s former Callan Park Hospital. J.W.C. Adam/Wikimedia

Troubled minds

Are mistaken beliefs about the history of mental health treatments stopping us from creating a humane system?

Alecia Simmonds 17 September 2021 1569 words

An excerpt from Troubled Minds published in the Inside Story newsletter

“Australians went into the pandemic with a mental health system that was already shattered. As the recent Victorian royal commission found, funding has not kept up with demand in Victoria, nor in any other Australian state. If you are in need of care today you are unlikely to be able to access treatment close to your home, and you’re likely to be prescribed medication rather than therapy. And if you reach out to a hospital for help, you will probably be told you’re not sick enough to be given one of the few psychiatric beds available. The threshold for accessing mental health services is impossibly high, with many people effectively told that they’re “not suicidal enough.”

If your symptoms are severe, you may be among those whose first encounter is not with a psychologist but with the police, and you may be one of the significant proportion of psychiatric admissions driven to hospital in a paddy wagon. In Victoria, you would have to wait more than eight hours to receive a psychiatric care bed, if there’s room at all. You may have been given compulsory treatment or placed in seclusion or restraint (all of which are routinely used), and you would be released not when you’ve recovered but when your symptoms have abated. Once outside, it’s likely that the women in your life will care for you, unpaid and unrecognised. Care in the community, after all, has almost always meant care by women.

Whether we are experiencing garden-variety Covid flatness (pondering whether R U OK? Day should be called R U Meh? Day), low-level anxiety about government incompetence, or depression at the interminable sameness of our days, or we have reached out for help only to receive a script for pharmaceuticals in place of a professional, we are being given first-hand insights into our mental health system. And this is leading to questions about how our system became so dysfunctional and what can be done.”

Click on the link below to read the complete article:
Troubled Minds

Tandem eNews 17 August 2021

Dear members and supporters, We are sending today’s eNews at what is once again a really difficult time for many Victorians. Feelings of exhaustion, apathy and irritability are so widespread at the moment that they’ve spawned a new term: ‘lockdown fatigue’.

Concerningly, for many people with caring responsibilities, lockdown fatigue adds to already significant carer fatigue or even burnout. Please remember that you can reach out to speak to our team on the Support and Referral Line from 9am-5pm Monday to Friday on 1800 314 325.

This is an enormously hard time too for our Afghan community, as well as for veterans who served in Afghanistan and their families. Please be mindful of how the situation is affecting you, and speak to someone if you need to.

With school closures extended, playgrounds closed and talk of how the delta variant of COVID-19 is spreading amongst children, many kids are having a hard time too – particularly those who were already struggling with anxiety or other mental health concerns.

We’ve included in this edition a section of resources for families with children, for members of the Afghan community, as well as some support services for veterans and families.

Lastly – and on a positive note – we’d like to thank all of our members who attended last week’s Members Meeting. The meeting included an initial consultation session on Victoria’s eight new family and carer-led centres. As always, the session involved vibrant discussion and produced a wealth of ideas that our team is now sifting through. Keep an eye on this space to hear more about our next steps!

In this eNews edition

      • Introduction
      • Our next Tandem Time with Victoria Police
      • Supporting children through extended lockdowns
      • Support for the Afghan community
      • Support for veterans and families
      • Are you experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19?
      • Senior Carer Peer Worker position – Mental Health Hospital in the Home
      • Family and Friend Support Program for people supporting someone using ice
      • Communicating with health professionals – Carers Victoria
      • The NDIS is seeking your feedback
      • Executive Director, Lived Experience – Department of Health
      • Depression Assist website
      • North Western Melbourne community needs survey
      • Do you live in Hume?
      • Tandem Support & Referral Line
      • Other Mental Health Helplines and Webchats
      • Join the Tandem Family

     

  • Our next Tandem Time with Victoria Police

    Our next Tandem Time is planned for Thursday 26 August 10am-11am

        • Day: Thursday 26 August
        • Time: 10am-11am
        • Where: online via Zoom.

    Our guest speaker will be Rebecca HalpinCommunity Portfolio Manager, Mental Health,Priority and Safer Communities Division, Victoria Police.

    Rebecca will provide information on the work that happens in the Mental Health – Priority and Safer Communities Division. As this will be a popular session we are asking members to submit questions beforehand.

    If you have any questions for Rebecca please forward to info@tandemcarers.org.au with the subject line ‘Tandem Time’.

    Are you experiencing hardship due to COVID-19?

    If you’re experiencing financial hardship because of COVID-19 restrictions, you may be eligible for support  from the Victorian Government and/or the Federal Government.

    Regardless of whether your financial hardship is COVID-related or not, you can speak to a financial counsellor at the National Debt Helpline for free – they even offer specialised advice for people experiencing financial stress due to mental health concerns.

    Call 1800 007 007 Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4.30pm.


    Depression Assist website

    Researchers at Deakin University and Barwon Health have developed a new website for family and friends of people with major depressive disorder, and are looking for people to test the website.

    If you’re interested, contact the researchers on 0456 755 552 or depression-assist@deakin.edu.au

    To read the complete newsletter click on the link below:
    https://mailchi.mp/be5f3c4beae4/dfxn4oqrm0-4766432?e=34088e3417

 

Mental Health & Suicide Prevention Symposium Series 7 and 14 September 2021

View this email in your browser

 

Tickets on sale now

Community-based mental health is at the heart of the new system recommended by the Royal Commission. But what should that look like?  What existing models of care can be drawn upon to build it?  And what factors will enable or inhibit its effective design and delivery? One thing is certain: Effective partnerships will be vital.Our next symposium is a two-day online event bringing together sector leaders and people with lived experience to share knowledge and explore effective methods of collaboration. Come join the conversation as we lay the foundations of a new community model for mental health together.

First speaker announcement

Tom Brideson, CEO of Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia, will share insights into growing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workforce.

Dr Adele Murdolo, Executive Director of the Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health, will join a panel of leaders from intersecting sectors to discuss the barriers and enablers to integration with the new community model

Sophie Scott, ABC National Medical Reporter, will return as MC after leading the discussion at our two previous symposiums this year.We’ll have more speaker announcements and full program details very soon.

Special access tickets  As always Mental Health Victoria has a limited number of free tickets available for people with lived experience of mental illness, their families and carers.Please direct your enquiries to conference@mhvic.org.au

2020 conference ticket holders  If you previously purchased a ticket to our cancelled 2020 conference and did not receive a refund, you are entitled to free registration to our entire 2021 Symposium series.For more information and to claim your ticket to Partnering for Change, please email conference@mhvic.org.au

We look forward to seeing you there.

Kind regards,

Mental Health Victoria

VicHealth How does alcohol affect the brain 29 June 2021

Author: VicHealth works with health promotion experts to create a Victoria where everyone can enjoy better health and wellbeing.

Any information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was originally published (29 June 2021).

 In Australia, it is recommended that adults consume no more than 10 standard drinks per week and no more than 4 standard drinks per day to reduce the health risks from alcohol. With this is mind, it’s important to understand how exactly alcohol affects our brain and what implications this may have on our overall health.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • Short and long-term effects of alcohol products
  • Alcohol and brain damage
  • Tips on cutting back on alcohol consumption

Be Healthy was created by VicHealth to provide helpful tips and advice on how you and your family can stay healthy. You can read more Be Healthy articles here.  

 Short and long-term effects of alcohol

Before looking into the short and long-term effects of alcohol on the brain, it’s important to know that alcohol effects every person differently. Your gender, mental and physical health, medical conditions and use of other drugs and medication all play a key role.

It’s also important to keep in mind that alcohol can affect you more quickly if you:

  • Drink on an empty stomach
  • Weigh less
  • Have a lower percentage of muscle
  • Are a young person

No matter how little or how much you drink, alcohol effects our whole brain matter, causing both short and long-term effects. Brain matter is a major component of our central nervous system and when negatively impacted, it can have various short- and long-term implications.

Short term effects can vary depending on the amount of alcohol products we drink, but can include:

  • An interrupted sleep which can in turn have a negative impact your mental wellbeing
  • Alcohol slows your body down and changes the chemical makeup in your brain
  • It can alter our mood, energy levels, concentration and memory
  • It can alter our judgement and movement, create slurred speech, nausea, and vomiting
  • Create difficulty breathing and even be the cause of coma or death

Long-term, alcohol can affect both our brain and other parts of our body and can cause:

  • Ongoing mental health conditions
  • An increased risk of diabetes and weight gain
  • Increased risk of a range of cancers
  • Heart issues, such as high blood pressure, heart damage and heart attacks
  • Liver failure
  • Brain related damage impairment (ARBI)
  • Fertility issues

While alcohol consumed at even moderate levels can have a negative impact on the brain, this can become more dramatic depending on how often a person consumes alcohol and the amount they drink on each occasion.

Alcohol and brain damage

Alcohol’s toxic effect can cause significant brain injury, referred to as alcohol related brain impairment (ARBI) and is more likely to occur if a person drinks heavily on an ongoing basis over a long period.

ARBI can also occur over a shorter time frame, and this is dependent on the amount a person consumes. This way of drinking is often referred to as ‘binge drinking’ and that is when a person drinks a lot of alcohol in a single session on a semi regular basis.

Brain injury can be caused by alcohol because it:

  • has a toxic effect on the central nervous system (CNS)
  • results in changes to metabolism, heart functioning and blood supply
  • interferes with the absorption of vitamin B1 (thiamine), which is an important brain nutrient
  • may be associated with poor nutrition
  • can lead to falls and accidents that injure the brain

Does alcohol kill our brain cells?

Despite alcohol causing brain damage, it does not kill our brain cells. It does however damage the ends of neurons called dendrites, making it hard for neurons to relay messages to one another.

Tips for cutting back on alcohol

Alcohol products are heavily promoted yet alcohol companies often downplay the harm they can cause to our health. To cut through the spin, here are some tips from VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio on what we can do to reduce the harm from alcohol:

  • Learn to reward yourself or unwind without alcohol – you can get active, revisit old hobbies or try a new one, get a massage, call a friend or relax with a book.
  • Mix up your routine – go for a walk around the block instead of having a wine after work or replace your alcoholic beverage with a peppermint tea or soda water.
  • Focus on what you’ll gain by cutting back – you might be motivated by saving money, boosting your memory and concentration, sleeping better and having more energy and patience to do things you enjoy.
  • The Daybreak app from Hello Sunday Morning also helps – it provides confidential health advice and a supportive community to help people reduce their drinking and protect their health.

Read more articles like this: 

Tandem – a survey for carers 6 May 2021

Dear family ambassadors,

I hope you can catch some of sun out there today.

You might have seen our recent eNews with our survey Act for an inclusive mental health and wellbeing system’. As the finalisation of the new Mental Health and Wellbeing Act approaches it’s important, we as families and supporters have our say. We would greatly appreciate your thoughts and feedback as the voice of our members is so valuable in the work that we do. It’s lengthy however, only answer what you feel comfortable with. Thanks for your continued effort and commitment to a more compassionate family inclusive mental health system.  

Kind regards,

Jennette Coffey
Policy and Project Officer

Tandem Inc.
Level 1, 37 Mollison Street Abbotsford Victoria 3067
P 8803 5555 F 8803 5599
E jennette.coffey@tandemcarers.org.au
www.tandemcarers.org.au

1800 314 325  Tandem Support and Referral Line

Sign up to Tandem’s eNews to get regular mental health updates

TheMHS Learning Network Webinars 2021

Hear from well-known speakers who will bring the research, clinical, and lived experience perspectives under one ‘umbrella’ – enabling sector-wide access to the best available, current evidence and sharing of information. All integrated with expert commentary, including implications for those with lived experience.

You can access more information via the link below:

https://www.themhs.org/alcohol-drugs-and-mental-health-webinars/

TheMHS Learning Network Perth Virtual Conference 9-12 February 2021

Get Ready for Our Marvellous Monday! 
A fresh start, a clean slate, and a lot of potential for great things to come. That’s what Mondays really are, and that’s precisely what our pre-conference Monday looks like!
View Our Program

You can access more information via this link: https://www.themhs.org/conference-registration/