Category Archives: Research

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/

World Mental Health Day: Shining the light on the mental health pandemic

THE FLOREY INSTITUTE

This year, World Mental Health day is more important than ever. That’s why we are delighted to invite you to join four of our mental health research leaders as they discuss mental health over a webinar on Friday 9 October. The panel will explore what makes our brain resilient or vulnerable, how isolation and stress impact us, and how this will affect us for generations to come.

This pandemic is a chronic stressor with no clear ending yet in sight. We have had to say goodbye to many simple rituals, such as handshakes, that are a source of reward and belonging. We are challenged with the pressure of increased caring responsibilities and financial uncertainty.

While we’ve all been hit by the same storm, we’re not in the same boat. What determines our ability to cope in the moment and our recovery after this pandemic has subsided? With 1 in 4 people experiencing mental health issues, how will these stresses exacerbate already debilitating symptoms? Are we facing a mental health pandemic?

As we wait for a COVID-19 vaccine, the value of medical research is inarguable. We must also invest in a deeper understanding of mental health and in developing treatments.

We hope you are well, and able to join us for this all-important conversation.

Warmest wishes,

The Florey Fundraising Team

For details click on the link below:

Shining the light on the mental health pandemic

Sane Newsletter October 2019

Have your say: groundbreaking new survey launched TODAY!

Last November, SANE Australia launched the Anne Deveson Research Centre (ADRC). In launching the Research Centre, we had a vision. A deep desire to better understand the experiences of people living with complex mental health issues – not just in terms of their diagnoses, symptoms or labels – but the varied, nuanced and unique aspects of their lives as a whole.

We know that people’s experiences of complex mental health issues do not exist in a vacuum, and impact how they’re treated by those around them. In order for us to be able to passionately advocate for improved social outcomes and support, we needed to have a better understanding of how living with a mental health issue impacts people across key areas like employment, housing and the healthcare system.

I’m so excited to announce that after working closely with incredible lived experience advocates, policymakers, stigma reduction practitioners and dedicated researchers, our vision has finally come to fruition today.

Supported by the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Our Turn to Speak is a groundbreaking national survey that seeks to understand the life experiences – both positive and negative – of people living with severe and complex mental health issues in Australia.

The ADRC has worked in partnership with the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences (MSPS) at the University of Melbourne, and is seeking 7,000 survey participants aged 18 and over, who have experienced complex mental health issues in the last 12 months.

CLICK TO TAKE PART »

More than 690,000 Australians aged 18 and over live with complex mental health issues. The findings of Our Turn to Speak will be used to inform SANE’s future advocacy efforts, as we work to make a real difference to all Australian affected by these issues.

To see if you or someone you know is eligible to participate, take a look at the website, ourturntospeak.com.au. If you’d like to share this survey with others, please use the resources in our supporter pack.

I’m so incredibly excited by the potential of this work to catalyse real change for those of us affected by complex mental health issues. It’s Our Turn to Speak.

Best wishes,

Michelle Blanchard Michelle
Dr Michelle Blanchard
Deputy CEO, SANE Australia

SANE Australia Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube

 

Tandem eNews 12 June 2019

Reminder – Tandem Member Meeting – Thursday, 13 June 2019

We look forward to seeing you from 10am – 1.30pm tomorrow to ensure that the message of priorities and concerns of Tandem members towards a comprehensively reformed compassionate mental health service includes your voice.

Location
Orange & Red Rooms, Level 1, Multicultural Hub, 506 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne

Date & time
Thursday 13 June
10am – 1.30pm (Morning tea & lunch provided)

Enquiries
For more information please contact us at info@tandemcarers.org.au or on 8803 5555.If you are not already a Tandem member, please join here

In the Royal Commission Terms of Reference, the Commissioners have been charged to find out ‘How to best support the needs of family members and carers of people living with mental illness’. The day will be dedicated to discussing and preparing Tandem’s Submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. We look forward to seeing you tomorrow!

You can access the Tandem newsletter via the link below.
https://mailchi.mp/41eec747d692/dfxn4oqrm0-1358941?e=34088e3417

Sane Express March 2019

Treatment Decisions in the Context of Schizophrenia survey launches

Do you live with, or support someone living with schizophrenia? We would love to hear about your experiences and opinions regarding treatment decisions, access and preferences.

So let us know what you think. Participation in this online survey should take 10-20 minutes, and you can go in the draw to win a $100 voucher.

Click here to go to the survey.

To make sure you don’t miss out on other opportunities to get involved with important research projects, sign up for our research newsletter here.

Schizophrenia research project

To access the complete Sane Express click on the link below:

https://saneaustralia.cmail19.com/t/ViewEmail/t/356DBAC7D8DB59352540EF23F30FEDED/31A1B7545938D4A9C9C291422E3DE149