Sober up: long-term alcohol abuse can cause brain damage.

Sober up: long-term alcohol abuse can cause brain damage.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

‘Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry, but you might want to lighten up on the drinking. According to The Wall Street Journal, studies have shown chronic heavy drinking, even in people who never get drunk and aren’t addicted, can change the structure of the brain. Imaging studies have shown that while the entire brain is impacted, the greatest damage occurs in the frontal lobe, which impacts planning, controlling impulses and modifying behavior.

Researches are also shedding light on the long-term impact on depression, stress and anxiety. “People often drink because they don’t feel good, but drinking makes them feel worse, so they drink more,” says NIAAA director George Koob. This vicious cycle can cause chronic drinkers to become stuck in a state of high anxiety and fear. There is a silver lining, studies tracking life-long drinking patterns show that some damage can repair itself—particularly if the drinking stops before age 50.

For more information about our region’s health, visit http://gulfcoastindicators.org/health.