Understanding exactly how alcohol damages the brain can give scientists the keys to providing alcoholics with a better chance of recovery through improved therapies and pharmaceutical treatments.
Research suggests that therapies that “train” the parts of the brain damaged by excessive alcohol consumption, along with the use of thiamine supplements, may improve brain regrowth and aid recovery from alcohol addiction.
Scientists at the Alcoholism Research Society believe that the brain damage caused by alcohol abuse may actually contribute to the progression of alcoholism.
“What these researchers are saying is that brain damage from alcohol use is the sum total of disease progression,” said Peter R. Martin, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology and director of the Vanderbilt Addiction Center at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in one Press release.
The brain is “modified” by alcohol
“It’s a different perspective on how alcoholism can develop. For the past 20 years, the focus of research has been on how some people react to alcohol, regardless of whether their brains are damaged. What they’re saying here is through Drink modify the brain, and the brain can be modified in different ways in humans. The neurotoxicity of alcohol “feeds back” and determines, modulates, or modifies the course of alcoholism, “he said.
The Alcoholism Research Society has published numerous studies of brain damage caused by alcoholism. A common factor in many studies is the ratio of alcohol-related deficits in central nervous function to addiction and recovery.
“Data shows that risk factors for alcoholism include excessive binge drinking, genetics, and adolescent drinking,” said Fulton T. Crews, director of the Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina. “These can also be risk factors for increased brain damage.”
Brain growth improvement
Alcohol use can damage the brain, depending on the genetic makeup, age, metabolism, and even gender of the patient. The good news, says Crews, is that because of the close “working relationship” between alcohol and the brain, recovery seems possible with the right kind of treatment.
“Preclinical studies have shown that brain damage is part of the progression from casual drinking to addiction,” he said in the press release. “We know alcoholics have decreased brain size. Clinical studies have shown that ‘training the brain’ is likely to improve brain regrowth and recovery from addiction.
Improved chances of recovery
“Frontal cortex regrowth, in particular, could be critical to successful recovery. Certain activities have been shown to be included in therapy – activities that require the use of the frontal cortex, the location of executive function, impulse inhibition, and goal setting Improve recovery and increase retention in the treatment program. In addition, thiamine therapy appears to increase treatment effects, likely by restoring aspects of central nervous system function. ”
The researchers concluded that therapies that exercise specific areas of the brain can improve its function, which can improve an alcoholic’s chances of recovery. The decrease in brain size appears to be reversed during the recovery process.
Additionally, thiamine supplementation could help alcoholics regain their memory skills, they said.
Brain sensitivity can be the key
“Perhaps it is not so very important why some people become alcoholics but also how sensitive they are to alcohol damage that changes their brain and thus the pharmacological effects of alcohol,” said Martin.
“We need to remember that even when an alcoholic stops drinking, the brain has changed. We need to spend more time understanding how the brain recovers when people stop drinking because that will determine how well they end up doing. ” he said.