Alcohol Awareness Month: Alterations in brain structure linked to alcoholism, says study - Sovereign Health Group
Articles / Blog
04-25-17 Category: Alcohol Abuse

Findings of a new research conducted by a group of scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have highlighted the need to develop personalized treatments for individuals struggling with alcoholism and alcohol use disorder (AUD). The study, published recently online in The Journal of Neuroscience, unravels a striking difference between the brain structures of alcohol-dependent and non-dependent rats. When given equal proportions of alcohol, both the groups of rats demonstrated heightened levels of activity in a region of the brain known as the central amygdala (CeA). However, the scientists observed that the two totally different brain signaling pathways triggered this activity.

Marisa Roberto, professor at TSRI and senior author of the study, believes the recent findings could throw more light on how to develop customized treatment options for people addicted to alcohol, as they help to determine the brain’s response to different therapeutics.

The study is entirely based on the fact that alcohol increases neuronal activity in the CeA. The researchers found increased activity in both non-dependent as well as alcohol-dependent rats. However, further investigations revealed certain differences between the mechanisms underlying this increased activity in the two groups of rats. By administering naïve rats a dose of alcohol, the researchers engaged proteins called calcium channels, which led to an increase in neuronal activity. These specific calcium channels termed as L-type voltage-gated calcium channels (LTCCs) triggered the release of a neurotransmitter called GABA. Further, inhibiting these LTCCs caused a decrease in voluntary alcohol consumption in naïve rats.

But, in the case of alcohol-dependent rats, the scientists discovered a decreased amount of LTCCs on neuronal cell membranes, impeding their normal ability to boost the effects of alcohol on CeA activity. Strangely, they observed that increased neuronal activity was being triggered by a stress hormone called corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) and its type 1 receptor (CRF1).

Studying these two groups of rats, Roberto was able to explain how alcohol alters the brain structure. “There is a switch in the molecular mechanisms underlying the CeA’s response to alcohol (from LTCC- to CRF1-driven) as the individual transitions to the alcohol-dependent state,” the senior author said. As there are multiple underlying causes that lead to alcoholism, Roberto hoped that these findings would help come up with newer, effective ways to treat alcohol dependence.

Alcoholism is treatable

Alcoholism is one of the most serious health risks in the United States today. Creating public awareness on the harmful effects of alcohol is one of the most effective ways to combat the growing rates of addiction to this socially accepted drug. In an effort to create awareness about alcoholism as a chronic, progressive disease, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) has declared April as the Alcohol Awareness Month (AAM). AAM is observed every year to raise public awareness about harmful effects of excessive alcohol consumption and to reduce the stigma associated with alcoholism. This year’s theme, “Connecting the Dots: Opportunities for Recovery,” aims to educate people, the youth in particular, about the treatment and prevention of alcoholism.

Addiction to alcohol or any other substance is all about seeking a remedy for combating overwhelming feelings of helplessness as a part of self-medication. Further, addiction deprives an individual of the power to reason and think constructively. When dealing with people suffering from alcoholism, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. What may work for one person may not be a good solution for another person. So, it is important to understand the different options:

  • Behavioral treatments: Treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are aimed at identifying the underlying causes and changing thinking patterns through counselling in order to:
  • Develop the skills required to reduce drinking
  • Build a strong social support system
  • Strive to set reachable goals
  • Manage the triggers that might cause relapse
  • Medications: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three medications for treating AUD:
  • Naltrexone, which helps to reduce heavy drinking
  • Acamprosate, which makes it easier to abstain from alcohol
  • Disulfiram that blocks the metabolism of alcohol in the body
  • Mutual support groups: Combined with professional treatment, mutual support groups can offer a valuable added layer of support and a platform for like-minded individuals to share their worries, concerns and encourage each other to stay sober.

Sovereign Health can help

Excessive use of alcohol endangers the body, brain and nervous system of the consumer. The accompanying problems and side effects begin to surface when the user gets dependent on alcohol or is in the process of withdrawal. Alcohol is the most commonly used addictive substance in the U.S. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), in 2015, more than 15 million people aged 18 years and older had AUD. However, only 8.3 percent of them received treatment for the disorder at a specialized facility in that year.

Alcoholism is an illness that affects everyone alike, without any sort of discrimination at all. Life for an individual affected by AUD is a constant search for the next drink. Sovereign Health understands the plight of someone who is unable to discontinue the use of harmful substances like alcohol despite the negative impact on his or her life.

Our customized alcohol addiction treatment programs are tailored to individual needs in order to treat the person holistically. Treatment at Sovereign Health of San Clemente can help reverse the damaging effects of drinking too much alcohol by addressing the underlying causes of alcoholism in individuals whose pain has led to such an addiction.

If you or your loved one is battling addiction to alcohol, get in touch with Sovereign Health to gain access to the latest and innovative alcohol rehab programs at our state-of-the-art alcohol treatment centers in California or in other locations across the U.S. Our residential treatment facilities across the U.S. are well known for their alcohol detox programs.

Whether you are looking for help or information to identify the signs of alcoholism or alcohol addiction treatment centers in California or at a place closer home, call at our 24/7 helpline number (866) 819-0427 or chat online to know about the most effective alcohol rehab programs at our reliable rehabilitation centers.

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