Alcohol harmfully affects the brain in a number of diverse ways, and that is widely acknowledged. However, a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that even after quitting drinking, the harmful effects of alcohol continue to impact the brain negatively. This damage persists, particularly during the first month of abstaining from alcohol use.

The Study Shows Abstinence Doesn’t Stop Brain Damage

A neuroimaging study utilized a sample of 90 voluntary patients admitted to a hospital rehabilitation program due to an alcohol use disorder. Since the patients were in a closed environment, they carefully monitored and controlled the participant’s consumption of alcohol. The study followed the abstinence phase of recovery, and compared brain imagery between the control group without alcohol use disorder and the test group with alcohol use disorder. The study found that changes in the white matter of the brain continued for up to six weeks in the test group, even after abstaining from alcohol. This beginning period is the most vulnerable time for relapse. Therefore, understanding that the progression of brain damage continues after quitting alcohol may help us to understand why relapses are so common during this period.

Observed Effects on the Brain

The damage observed during the abstinence period particularly affected the right hemisphere and frontal lobe of the brain. The right hemisphere is responsible for controlling the left side of the body and is related to creativity. The frontal lobe controls cognitive skills, like memory, problem-solving, judgment, and emotional expression. The study also found that communication within the corpus callosum, which connects the two hemispheres of the brain, and the fimbria, or white matter of the hippocampus, were intensely and negatively affected. Therefore, alcohol use leads to interference with decision making, memory, and communication between the brain’s hemispheres.

Need Help Recovering from Alcohol Use?

Alcoholism is a disease in which one must acknowledge their problem and obtain a path to recovery. Alcohol use causes brain damage, no matter the amount consumed or the duration of consumption. Since brain damage persists even after stopping alcohol use, relapse is an unfortunate struggle of a long-lasting recovery. At Fort Worth Recovery, we offer a nurturing space to support clients on their road to recovery. We seek to inspire clients to face their challenges and foster hope for their future. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcoholism, call us today at 844.332.1807 or visit us online.


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