From Medical News Today:
A new study goes against the grain of previous research by suggesting that alcohol-induced brain damage does not stop when alcohol use ends. Instead, the harmful effects of alcohol may continue during abstinence. The findings have important implications for the process of recovery from alcohol dependence.
Most of us are familiar with the immediate effects that alcohol consumption has on the brain. Euphoria, depression, memory loss, blurred vision, slurred speech, and a general state of confusion are only some of these effects.
However, for those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol over extended periods, this repeated brain damage can have a long-lasting effect on neuronal and mental health.
Depression and anxiety are only some of the conditions that scientists have associated with long-term alcohol consumption. Consuming alcohol excessively may also cause Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, a condition that causes “amnesia, extreme confusion, and visual disturbances.”
Do these damaging effects stop once the person stops drinking alcohol though? Until now, researchers believed that they did. New research, however, challenges this view.
Scientists from the Institute of Neuroscience CSIC-UMH in Alicante, Spain collaborated with others from the Central Institute of Mental Health Mannheim in Germany to examine the structural brain changes in people with alcohol use disorder. They found that damage to the brain’s white matter persists in the first weeks of sobriety.
Silvia De Santis is the first author of the new study, which the journal JAMA Psychiatry has published.
Long-lasting effects of alcohol on the brain
De Santis and colleagues used neuroimaging techniques to examine 90 people with alcohol use disorder. The study participants had an average age of 46 years and had required hospitalization due to their addiction.