Why Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Slurred Speech?

Have you noticed that drinking alcohol can lead to a host of changes in the body? On one hand, it can make you feel relaxed and more at ease while on the other it can also give you a high and make you dizzy. Some people experience some other effects of alcohol drinking.

In addition to causing several issues with your stomach and brain, have you noticed drinking alcohol impacts your ability to form words and speak clearly? Why does drinking alcohol cause slurred speech? Let us find out!

What Causes Slurring of Speech?

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of about 0.1% leads to trouble in forming words thereby causing slurry speech. The brain seems dysfunctional and the speech starts getting slurry. This is why you must have seen law enforcement officers checking a person’s speech as a marker of inebriation while they are driving.

The ability to form words and speak correctly indicates good motor control. When you get too drunk, this ability gets compromised heavily showcasing that the brain is not able to function properly.

This is why a lot of other forms of drugs also impact the brain’s ability to work at its maximum potential. It is important to note that the speech ability can sometimes be comprised below 0.1% of BAC but in most cases, it doesn’t get too apparent till it reaches 0.1%.

Why Does Drinking Alcohol Cause Slurred Speech?

The moment you drink alcohol, it reaches your blood vessels and spreads throughout your body. The brain is at the receiving end and all its areas are affected by the presence of alcohol.

As you consume more and more alcohol, you will start seeing changes in your speech patterns. Initially, it may begin as forgetting words and stumbling on everyday words and the ‘higher’ you get, the more your speech would start slurring.

If you are out having a good time with a bunch of people and anyone starts showing signs of slurred speech, they should ideally stop drinking.

This is because speech slurring doesn’t usually begin until blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches 0.1%. This is way higher than permissible driving limits and if left as it is, things may exacerbate.

The slurring of speech is caused by the interaction of toxins in the alcohol with the neurons in the brain. These neurons are located in the cerebellum in the brain that controls a lot of voluntary muscles and memory function. This is why too much alcohol consumption is linked to not just slurred speech but also loss of memory in many cases.

Additionally, alcohol is also known to suppress the production and circulation of the neurotransmitter glutamate that is responsible for stimulating energy and excitement. This suppression leads to a sedating impact on the brain, causing sloppy speech and unstable memory.

Are There Any Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on Speech?

Long-term alcoholism can have several adverse impacts on the body, speech being just one of them. To begin with, long-term drinking problems may impact your overall ability to communicate effectively. It can also, at the same time, negatively impact your ability to convey emotions and also impact your tone.

For instance, your voice will lose its charm and appeal and your ability to communicate a certain emotion may get impacted. It is for this reason that alcoholics seem to have a quieter voice and difficulties in expressing emotions.

Not only this, but alcoholics also compromise their ability to emote through their face and it would be difficult for them to show emotions such as anger, sadness, happiness on their face alone even in the long run.

This negative impact on social cognition stays for a long time and it would take long abstinence from alcohol to get back to normal. Sometimes, it can even lead to irreversible damage.

The interesting part is that this effect is not just restricted to humans. Drunk birds such as finches also suffer consequences and their voice is not as mellifluous. It is, in fact, disorganized and they can’t sing loudly as their fellow birds.

The difference between sober finches and drunk finches is just too apparent. Sober finches have defined and distinct syllables, while the syllables of drunk finches are disorganized, which is the bird equivalent of slurred speech.

How to Treat Slurred Speech?

One of the obvious ways to treat slurred speech would be to limit alcohol consumption. Usually, you would have noticed after a drunken night that your speech is back to normal.

This is because the effect of alcohol wears off after some time. However, even occasionally, you should not create a situation wherein alcohol impacts your speech.

When Should You Seek Help?

If you notice you are gravitating towards alcohol way more than you do usually and it is taking a toll on your speech patterns, it may be an issue of alcohol use disorder and hence, must be treated as such.

You should immediately get in touch with a doctor when:

  • You are unable to control your alcohol intake.
  • Your alcohol addiction is causing you problems such as slurred speech, delayed brain cognition and stomach issues, etc.

You can even take refuge in therapy because it makes a difference. The bottom line is you must be aware of the problem and be willing to take the steps required to solve it.

Alcohol abuse or overdrinking not only impacts us and our bodies but also leads to a flurry of issues for people close to us. The sooner you seek help, the better it is for everyone.

The Final Word

Drinking alcohol has pronounced effects on speech patterns in humans and may lead to slurring and memory loss. This is because the toxins present in the alcohol interact with neurons in the brain and impact their ability to function well.

Prolonged alcoholism may lead to even more serious issues in human beings and cause not just slurred speech but also impact overall social cognition.