How does alcohol affect the mind? What makes it addictive?

The first ever fully causal explanation of effects of alcohol on the human mind and what makes it addictive.

Alcohol and the Human Mind

In this post, I have revealed the first ever fully causal explanation of effects of alcohol on the human mind and what makes it addictive.

To make it easy to understand, I have explained mechanisms related to alcohol consumption and addiction without using any technical jargon:

Alcohol is a depressant. Depressants are drugs that slow down the function of the central nervous system, which delay sensory information in reaching a person’s brain.

Our brain uses sensory information1 to generate perceptions. Such sensory information and its associated perceptions are used by our thought processes to decode contents of our interactions2. The process of natural selection has designed our brain to use such contents to make optimized decisions in order to reach the evolutionary goals of survival and reproduction3.

alcohol consumption and addiction

As can be derived from the above paragraph, sensory information is at the core of our mental life, which makes it extremely significant for us to reach our goals.

Based on such significance, after consistently receiving it in the same manner for years, when consumption of alcohol delays sensory information in reaching the brain…

  1. …it aborts communication within and between conscious and non-conscious thought processes (i.e. breaks the continuity of the ongoing thought process)4 to attend to ongoing interactions for the purpose of evaluating them in order to gain any new information5, if available from them, as it is an unusual situation
  2. Whether such new information is gained or not, the area in the brain responsible for personality6 becomes malleable, i.e. opens up for reprogramming, so it can store such new information for future use if required7, which becomes a part of our personality

How Alcohol Works

On consuming alcohol, 1) the aborted communication mentioned in point 1 results into breaking the continuity of thought processes between the non-conscious and conscious parts of the brain, of which it is habituated (as it can attend to only one thing at a time), thereby providing freedom from stressful thoughts that usually occur in different capacities in a person’s daily life and 2) its malleability makes it easy for it to adapt to new situation(s), either good or bad, based on the content of such new information.

Alcohol and the Human Mind

The same is the reason why people say “cheers” before having alcohol – to celebrate in a good situation (e.g. Cheers to your new achievement) and give solace in a bad situation (e.g. Cheer up, everything will turn out fine.)

Alcohol Addiction

The process of natural selection has designed our brain to make optimized decisions based on our dynamically changing environments and conditions. Such decisions are driven by our perceptions8.

If one or more thoughts, conditions, facts, etc. result into us having perceptions that are bad for us or not of our liking, our brain uses its decision making capability to find a solution to get relief from whatever is causing them9. The same is with good perceptions, which are promoted by the brain.

As a result of broken brain communication mentioned earlier, those who are addicted to alcohol are either in a condition where they are unable to change circumstances that are giving them such bad perceptions and use it to prevent them to reach their consciousness or simply use it as a shortcut to prevent bad perceptions to reach their consciousness.

If you’re addicted to alcohol, you must understand that perceptions are just messengers of reality. Consuming alcohol offers relief from stress by blocking such perceptions, but does not change the reality; just the way closing your eyes does not mean the world around you will cease to exist.

Preventing unwanted perceptions by having alcohol is like shooting the messenger.



References

Note: This post sufficiently explains the logic behind mechanisms related to alcohol consumption and addiction. Please follow the links given below only when you want to dig deeper into the subject.

(Source – Mechanisms of the Mind by Parag Jasani)

1 Sensation, Consciousness and Attention – page 75

2 Perception – page 77

3 Mechanism of Natural Selection – page 3

4 Intramural & Extramural Communication – The Origin of Thought Process – page 36

5 Learning and Personality – page 60

6 B-ROM – page 20

7 Intelligence – page 65

8 Brain and Mind – page 12

9 How does IPS Work? – page 28

How does alcohol affect the mind

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