Do Drinking and Diving Have Any Effect on The Central Nervous System?
Of course, they do. Actually, the question is not if there is any effect of drinking and diving on the central nervous system. The question is which ones?
Let’s analyze them from the mildest to the most severe. It is important to say that everyone responds differently to alcohol depending on factors such as weight, sex, age, race, whether the person is fasting, etc.
1. Drinking and diving: phase 1 euphoria and excitement. Alcohol affects emotions and produces talkativeness, euphoria, disinhibition, and impulsive behavior. It is the reason why many young men need to drink before talking to a girl. What is really happening is alcohol affects the cingulate cortex. It is the part of the brain involved in decision-making, empathy, and emotions. A beer is enough for that.
It is a drawback to drink alcohol before scuba diving and having an impulsive and unreflective awareness. You need to use common sense to dive, make numerous checks during the dive, and be methodical. To be deficient in the execution of a scuba dive entails great risk.
2. Drinking and scuba diving: phase 2 intoxication. After two glasses of wine, two beers, or a shot of tequila, you enter the intoxication phase. At this moment, the neurotransmitters of the brain are altered.
Among the effects, we see a decrease in alertness and the ability to concentrate. Reflexes slow down, affect vision, as well as movements coordination, motor functions, and even memory are impaired.
As divers, we know that proper judgment skills at depth are necessary. We also know that pressure and breathing compressed inert gases affect our bodies. Alcohol increases this. It happens with respect to nitrogen narcosis.
Alcohol and nitrogen both can function as nervous system depressants. That is, to sedate it. The symptoms of nitrogen narcosis are very similar to those caused by alcohol.
– Mental confusion.
– Delayed reaction time.
– Impaired judgment.
– Fixation of ideas.
– Loss of memory.
The relationship between depth and narcosis is informally known as the “Law of Martinis”: It is something like drinking one Martini cocktail for every 10 m of depth. Deep diver cocktail feelings get worse drinking alcohol before diving (although there are no studies about how much).