The most commonly cited danger of long-term alcohol abuse typically involves the high risks it poses to the liver.
This is not, however, the only risk chronic alcohol use imposes. Several studies have demonstrated the long-term damage to the brain that alcoholism causes.
Here we take a look at what three of these studies found about alcoholism and its neurological effects.
While the brain tends to shrink with increasing age, alcoholism has been shown to greatly increase the rate of brain shrinkage. A 2008 study in found that those who had at least 14 drinks a week on average had a 1.6-% reduction in brain volume compared to those who did not drink. (1)
This can lead to a syndrome known as alcoholic brain atrophy, which can lead to antisocial behavior along with several detrimental effects on cognitive ability. (2)
Alcoholism has been shown to cause a decline in cognitive function in those afflicted with the disease. Cognitive function is defined as the brain processes that involve reasoning, memory, language, and attention.
While this decline happens the older we get, alcoholism greatly increases the rate. One 2014 study found that heavy drinkers on average showed signs of cognitive decline six years earlier than their actual age. (3)
Increase in the risk of dementia
Dementia refers to various progressive neurological disorders that ultimately cause the individual to no longer be able to perform basic everyday activities. For example, Alzheimer’s disease is a common form of dementia. Studies have found a strong correlation between dementia and a history of heavy drinking.
One study showed that nearly 40% of early-onset dementia cases were directly related to alcohol brain damage, while 18% showed “other alcohol use” disorders. (4)
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.