picture of the brain

Study Shows Alcohol Causes Brain Damage Even After Patient Stops Drinking

A new study performed by doctors in Spain suggests that brain damage caused by excessive alcohol consumption does not stop even if abstinence is started.

The Damaging Effects That Alcohol Can Have On The Brain

Most adult Americans enjoy an alcoholic drink on occasion knowing that they may experience side effects such as blurred vision, slowed speech, and slower reaction times depending on the amount of alcohol that is ingested. Typically, these symptoms disappear as the alcohol leaves the drinker’s system.

Unfortunately, alcoholism is a serious problem in this country. Nearly 14 million Americans abuse alcohol and the excessive consumption of alcohol can have long-lasting effects on the brain.

Take the following into consideration:

  • Over time, the consistent consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol can actually decrease brain volume.
  • Alcoholism is linked to a significant increase in the risk of dementia.
  • Around 80% of all alcoholics are diagnosed with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This syndrome is caused by a lack of vitamin B-1 which cause brain lesions. Symptoms can include double vision, the loss of coordination, and a confused mental state that often pairs with aggressive behavior
  • Alcoholism can cause serious permanent memory loss.

These are just a few examples of how the brain can be forever changed by alcohol. Previously it was thought that if a person stops drinking entirely they may be able to recover some function but a new study suggests that damage will continue to get worse even without additional alcohol consumption.

Researchers In Spain Study The Impact Of Alcohol On The Brain

Dr. Santiago Canals and a group of researchers recently examined 90 people with alcohol dependency. The majority of the participants suffer from their addiction so severely that they have had to be hospitalized due to their alcohol consumption.

Each participant was entered into a detoxification program where they were closely monitored and their consumption of alcohol controlled.

During the study, the group found that damaging changes to the white matter of the brain continued for a full 6 weeks after the participants stopped drinking. This can impact the way that the brain communicates with the body.

The findings of this study contradict the idea that once a person stops drinking the damange to their brain also stops.

Getting Help For Alcoholism

If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to alcohol, you aren’t alone. You can get help. There are steps you can take to get sober.

  1. Speak with your doctor. Your doctor will have a list of recommended treatment centers in your area and can help you pick the one that is the best fit for you. If possible, find a treatment program that includes a detox program.
  2. Join a support group. There are hundreds of support groups, such as AA, which can help you on your journey.
  3. Consider a sober living home. These homes offer a safe space as you continue to transition to a sober lifestyle.
  4. Speak with a therapist. One on one therapy can be extremely helpful for those who are fighting with addiction.

Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. You can begin to live a healthier life today.