One of the side effects of drug and alcohol abuse that is not well known is brain damage whether or not they can be prevented or reversed, and how to treat them. Different substances induce these effects to different degrees, including the. Alcohol abuse is associated with numerous health issues, emotional problems According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services . have to learn to cope with numerous alcohol-related physical, emotional, and. Not only can drinking and drugs increase the effects of each substance, it can also Of the million drug-related ED visits in , an estimated 14 percent are heavily prescribed in the United States to treat moderate to severe pain.
Alcohol-Induced Manage Addiction Damage and
Treatment The cerebellum, an area of the brain responsible for coordinating movement and perhaps even some forms of learning, appears to be particularly sensitive to the effects of thiamine deficiency and is the region most frequently damaged in association with chronic alcohol consumption. Administering thiamine helps to improve brain function, especially in patients in the early stages of WKS.
When damage to the brain is more severe, the course of care shifts from treatment to providing support to the patient and his or her family Custodial care may be necessary for the 25 percent of patients who have permanent brain damage and significant loss of cognitive skills Scientists believe that a genetic variation could be one explanation for why only some alcoholics with thiamine deficiency go on to develop severe conditions such as WKS, but additional studies are necessary to clarify how genetic variants might cause some people to be more vulnerable to WKS than others.
Most people realize that heavy, long—term drinking can damage the liver, the organ chiefly responsible for breaking down alcohol into harmless byproducts and clearing it from the body. But people may not be aware that prolonged liver dysfunction, such as liver cirrhosis resulting from excessive alcohol consumption, can harm the brain, leading to a serious and potentially fatal brain disorder known as hepatic encephalopathy Hepatic encephalopathy can cause changes in sleep patterns, mood, and personality; psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and depression; severe cognitive effects such as shortened attention span; and problems with coordination such as a flapping or shaking of the hands called asterixis.
In the most serious cases, patients may slip into a coma i. New imaging techniques have enabled researchers to study specific brain regions in patients with alcoholic liver disease, giving them a better understanding of how hepatic encephalopathy develops.
These studies have confirmed that at least two toxic substances, ammonia and manganese, have a role in the development of hepatic encephalopathy. Alcohol—damaged liver cells allow excess amounts of these harmful byproducts to enter the brain, thus harming brain cells.
Treatment Physicians typically use the following strategies to prevent or treat the development of hepatic encephalopathy. Treatment that lowers blood ammonia concentrations, such as administering L—ornithine L—aspartate. In initial studies, patients using these devices showed lower amounts of ammonia circulating in their blood, and their encephalopathy became less severe Liver transplantation, an approach that is widely used in alcoholic cirrhotic patients with severe i.
In general, implantation of a new liver results in significant improvements in cognitive function in these patients 22 and lowers their levels of ammonia and manganese Drinking during pregnancy can lead to a range of physical, learning, and behavioral effects in the developing brain, the most serious of which is a collection of symptoms known as fetal alcohol syndrome FAS.
Children with FAS may have distinct facial features see illustration. FAS infants also are markedly smaller than average. Their brains may have less volume i.
And they may have fewer numbers of brain cells i. Children with fetal alcohol syndrome FAS may have distinct facial features.
Treatment Scientists are investigating the use of complex motor training and medications to prevent or reverse the alcohol—related brain damage found in people prenatally exposed to alcohol These findings have important therapeutic implications, suggesting that complex rehabilitative motor training can improve motor performance of children, or even adults, with FAS. Scientists also are looking at the possibility of developing medications that can help alleviate or prevent brain damage, such as that associated with FAS.
Studies using animals have yielded encouraging results for treatments using antioxidant therapy and vitamin E. Other preventive therapies showing promise in animal studies include 1—octanol, which ironically is an alcohol itself. Two molecules associated with normal development i. And a compound MK— that blocks a key brain chemical associated with alcohol withdrawal i. MK— reversed a specific learning impairment that resulted from early postnatal alcohol exposure Though these compounds were effective in animals, the positive results cited here may or may not translate to humans.
Not drinking during pregnancy is the best form of prevention; FAS remains the leading preventable birth defect in the United States today. For decades scientists believed that the number of nerve cells in the adult brain was fixed early in life.
If brain damage occurred, then, the best way to treat it was by strengthening the existing neurons, as new ones could not be added. In the s, however, researchers found that new neurons are indeed generated in adulthood—a process called neurogenesis These new cells originate from stem cells, which are cells that can divide indefinitely, renew themselves, and give rise to a variety of cell types.
The discovery of brain stem cells and adult neurogenesis provides a new way of approaching the problem of alcohol—related changes in the brain and may lead to a clearer understanding of how best to treat and cure alcoholism For example, studies with animals show that high doses of alcohol lead to a disruption in the growth of new brain cells; scientists believe it may be this lack of new growth that results in the long—term deficits found in key areas of the brain such as hippocampal structure and function 31, Understanding how alcohol interacts with brain stem cells and what happens to these cells in alcoholics is the first step in establishing whether the use of stem cell therapies is an option for treatment Alcoholics are not all alike.
They experience different degrees of impairment, and the disease has different origins for different people. Consequently, researchers have not found conclusive evidence that any one variable is solely responsible for the brain deficits found in alcoholics. Characterizing what makes some alcoholics vulnerable to brain damage whereas others are not remains the subject of active research The good news is that most alcoholics with cognitive impairment show at least some improvement in brain structure and functioning within a year of abstinence, though some people take much longer 35— Clinicians must consider a variety of treatment methods to help people stop drinking and to recover from alcohol—related brain impairments, and tailor these treatments to the individual patient.
Advanced technology will have an important role in developing these therapies. Clinicians can use brain—imaging techniques to monitor the course and success of treatment, because imaging can reveal structural, functional, and biochemical changes in living patients over time. Researchers studying the effects of alcohol use on the brain are aided by advanced technology such as magnetic resonance imaging MRI , diffusion tensor imaging DTI , positron emission tomography PET , and electrophysiological brain mapping.
Long—term heavy drinking may lead to shrinking of the brain and deficiencies in the fibers white matter that carry information between brain cells gray matter. MRI and DTI are being used together to assess the brains of patients when they first stop chronic heavy drinking and again after long periods of sobriety, to monitor for possible relapse to drinking Memory formation and retrieval are highly influenced by factors such as attention and motivation Studies using MRI are helping scientists to determine how memory and attention improve with long-time abstinence from alcohol, as well as what changes take place when a patient begins drinking again.
The goal of these studies is to determine which alcohol—induced effects on the brain are permanent and which ones can be reversed with abstinence. PET imaging is allowing researchers to visualize, in the living brain, the damage that results from heavy alcohol consumption These studies have detected deficits in alcoholics, particularly in the frontal lobes, which are responsible for numerous functions associated with learning and memory, as well as in the cerebellum, which controls movement and coordination.
PET also is a promising tool for monitoring the effects of alcoholism treatment and abstinence on damaged portions of the brain and may help in developing new medications to correct the chemical deficits found in the brains of people with alcohol dependence. This can result in a wide range of damage, including oxygen deprivation to the brain.
As explained by the National Library of Medicine , lack of oxygen to the brain can directly result in brain cell death and quickly lead to coma. Hypoxia is often an acute condition brought on by opioid overdose, but it can also accumulate over years of abuse of these drugs, resulting in diminished oxygen to the brain that causes slow-developing damage over time. Depending on the type of damage, it may be possible to reverse the damage caused by drug or alcohol abuse.
By reintroducing missing nutrients or promoting reestablishment of chemical pathways in the brain, early-stage damage can be reversed or at least somewhat repaired. However, in cases of extensive cell death or damage, reversal may not be possible. The National Institute on Drug Abuse provides hope, noting that treatment and technology advances are helping to improve the chances that lost functions can be recovered after substance abuse is stopped. This includes abilities to reduce cravings that make a person more likely to relapse to substance use and continue contributing to further damage.
The best chance for recovery or reversal depends on intervention as early as possible. Recognizing that substance abuse is occurring is essential to getting on this path. Signs of brain damage due to substance abuse may include:. If these signs are recognized, getting help as quickly as possible can provide the nutritional and other support that can enable the brain and body to recover from the issues. Addiction has no cure, and in some cases, the damage from abuse of psychoactive substances may not be fully repairable.
However, professional, research-based treatment programs provide the most current, demonstrated abilities to treat and manage the issues that arise from addiction. With this type of intervention, the individual has an improved chance of returning to a productive life, along with the ability to manage long-term recovery. Home alcoholism treatment brain damage. Brain Damage from Drugs and Alcohol.
People who drink too much are more likely to suffer vitamin deficiencies, especially thiamine or B A thiamine deficiency leads to a condition called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, with symptoms including losing the ability to walk and dementia-like issues. Drinking too much damages the circulation by causing consistent high blood pressure. It also causes cardiomyopathy, or drooping of the heart muscle, which reduces the ability of the heart to effectively pump blood throughout the body.
Nutrient deficiency can lead to anemia. Other problems with blood can lead to clots , causing strokes or heart attacks. Added fat and scar tissue on the liver due to excessive alcohol consumption can lead to all sorts of problems, but most often either cirrhosis or alcohol-induced hepatitis.
Liver failure among those who drink heavily for many years is likely. Pancreatitis, or the consistent inflammation of the pancreas, can also cause damage to the body, including high blood sugar leading to diabetes. People who drink too much are at an increased risk of ulcers, digestive problems, low hormone levels, and several cancers, including esophageal, stomach, colon, liver, mouth, and breast cancers. People who drink too much may induce a mood disorder, like anxiety or depression, or they may trigger a seizure disorder due to changes to the GABA system in the brain.
Those who have a family member who struggles with AUD are more likely to suffer from high stress, emotional and physical abuse, and mental health or substance abuse problems later in life. Although the concept of an intervention is pervasive in popular culture — even leading to the development of a reality television show — there are types of interventions that are more helpful than suddenly accusing a loved one of struggling with addiction.
Family and friends may create an intervention — which requires a plan, including specific requirements and consequences — or a therapist, doctor, or other healthcare professional may conduct an intervention. Often, these are brief interventions, which occur after a person has been hospitalized due to side effects from drinking too much or after a person is diagnosed with a chronic illness due to problem drinking. A person struggling with AUD does not need to hit rock bottom for an intervention to be effective.
When a person struggling with problem drinking or alcohol dependence decides to get help, it is important for them to consult with a doctor regarding how serious their physical condition may be. Gauging the severity of withdrawal symptoms is important, as quitting alcohol suddenly can lead to seizures, which may be deadly. Racing heart rate, high blood pressure, insomnia, vomiting and related dehydration, and fever can also be dangerous alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
A medical professional can work with a person attempting to detox from alcohol to help them manage cravings and other withdrawal symptoms. A doctor can also refer their patient to addiction treatment programs and therapists, so the individual can get help overcoming their alcohol abuse issues.
If there are no serious withdrawal symptoms, a doctor can recommend over-the-counter remedies to manage pain or nausea. The support of friends and family can help keep the individual focused on sobriety. Once the person has safely detoxed from alcohol, a comprehensive rehabilitation program is the best step. These programs offer intensive therapy to help clients understand the root causes of their addiction and change their behaviors toward intoxicating substances.
Once a person has completed detox and rehabilitation, they are not cured of addiction. Since the condition is a chronic illness , like hypertension, asthma, or diabetes, there may be relapses in the future, but addiction can be managed for life, and the individual can stay sober and healthy.
Relapse can be avoided by getting sufficient aftercare. Oftentimes, aftercare involves a peer support group, ongoing therapy, and even a maintenance medication like naltrexone , which reduces or eliminates cravings. Working with an evidence-based treatment program can help one gather resources about nearby or online support groups and therapists. Related Reading On Alcoholism.
How Long Does It Take to Reverse Alcohol Damage?
You may know alcohol use disorder as “alcohol abuse,” alcohol Stress Management · Teen Drug Abuse · More Related Topics How often you drink; What the effects are; What happens when you try to cut back Next In Substance Abuse and Addiction Managing Diabetes at Work · Is It a Cold or Flu?. Alcohol cardiomyopathy, a form of dilated cardiomyopathy, is a condition that Read This First · Addiction & Mental Illness: Does One Cause the Other? Heart failure occurs when the heart can no longer pump enough blood to . With the right care, physical issues, such as alcohol cardiomyopathy, can also be managed. No part of a drinker's life is unharmed by alcohol addiction, and even moderate cirrhosis disrupts the liver's ability to manage the body's metabolic function and is a the effects of alcohol-related fatty liver, hepatitis and cirrhosis conditions.