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Problem Drinking Linked to Brain Damage
Date:9/15/2011

t alcohol-related damage across the entire brain, revealing two primary findings."

First, the study found reduced cortical thickness among the recovered alcoholics. Secondly, alcohol's effects on the brain are determined by how much people drink. Essentially, they showed, the more a person drinks, the greater the damage to their brain.

"This study documents, for the first time, the dynamic nature of the neuropathology associated with chronic heavy alcohol use," Terence M. Keane, associate chief of staff for research & development at the VA Boston Healthcare System and assistant dean for research at Boston University School of Medicine, explained in the news release. "The results may explain why alcoholism may be so difficult to treat: alcohol damages the very neural systems that are critical to achieving and maintaining abstinence."

The study authors added that even when they stop drinking, former alcoholics can suffer impaired abilities and personality changes due to alcohol's effects on the brain.

"Severe reductions in frontal brain regions can result in a dramatic change to personality and behavior, taking the form of impulsivity, difficulty with self-monitoring, planning, reasoning, poor attention span, inability to alter behavior, a lack of awareness of inappropriate behavior, mood changes, even aggression," added Fortier. "Severe reductions in temporal brain regions most often result in impairments in memory and language function."

The findings should help doctors better advise and treat their alcoholic patients, the researchers concluded.

"I think what is most important for other medical professionals to know and pass on to their patients is that alcohol misuse is not without consequences," concluded Fortier. "Not only is the brain impacted, but the very brain structures that are the most impacted are the ones that you need to change problematic behavior. However, it is also important to note that although brain tissue
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