Alcohol consumption is responsible for many health problems, including the brain. A study reveals the duration of abstinence necessary to repair the damage caused to the brain. Explanations.
Excessive and regular consumption of alcohol can cause significant damage to the brain. Certain regions of the cortex whose role is essential can in particular be impacted. However, scientists discovered that after a certain period of withdrawal, the cortex could “recover.”
7.3 months of abstinence to regain your initial cortex
Timothy Durazzo, a professor of behavioral sciences at Stanford University, and other researchers conducted a study to determine how long abstinence from alcohol is necessary to repair brain damage.
They then measured the thickness of the cortex with a scanner at three different periods of abstinence in people suffering from alcohol use disorders. The first measurement was at 1 week with 68 guinea pigs, the second at 1 month with 88 guinea pigs and the last at 7.3 months with 40 guinea pigs.
At the same time, the researchers measured the thickness of the cortex of 45 people who had never suffered from alcohol-related disorders. Nine months later, these same people were tested again. The aim was to verify that the observed area did not vary naturally.
results: according to the researchers, it would take an average of 7.3 months of abstinence to regain the initial thickness of the cortex. Improvements are visible from the first month of abstinence, with rapid recovery which diminishes over 7.3 months. Although considerable, the damage caused by alcohol to the brain is not all irremediable.
Other factors affect brain recovery
According to the study results, certain factors may influence the duration and quality of repair of your cortex. Indeed, Professor Durazzo and his team also examined the link between the change in cortical thickness and other health problems in people suffering from alcohol-related disorders.
Researchers observe that if you have a history of smoking, psychiatric problems, or substance use disorders, then your cortical thickness may be affected. In the case of people who have high blood pressure or cholesterol levels, the cortex will thicken more slowly during abstinence. The same observation is observable among people who smoked at the time of the study. Smoking cessation could therefore also contribute to a faster recovery of cortical thickness.
However, no significant relationships were found between changes in cortical thickness and regular substance abuse, psychiatric disorders, or past smoking.
Results which remain to be confirmed
Although this study helps assess the brain’s ability to recover from abnormal alcohol consumption, the results only involve the size of the cortex and do not indicate whether the changes have a broader effect on brain function. . Other factors such as genetics or physical activity are likely to come into play.
Finally, the number of participants in the study appears too small to be able to draw large-scale conclusions. Further work will therefore have to confirm these results.