Until somewhat recently, many believed that the adult brain had a limited number of neurons set at a fairly early age. However, research shows that the adult brain can continue to produce new cells. This is promising news for those recovering from alcoholism because alcohol abuse causes damage and shrinkage within in the brain. Maintaining sobriety allows your brain to undo much of the harm inflicted by alcohol addiction.
How Alcohol Impacts the Brain
As alcohol’s effects first take hold, you experience differences in your judgment, concentration and coordination. Your inhibitions relax. However, when you abuse alcohol, significant physical changes occur within the brain. Most areas of the brain experience damage and shrinkage, but it might be most noticeable in the frontal lobe which governs your logic and behavior and the cerebellum which deals with coordination and muscle control. Continued abuse can lead to an increased risk of cancer, dementia, seizures and stroke, and those are only the brain-related health risks. A number of other factors can also influence the degree of damage done including:
- Length and severity of use
Sobriety Promotes Brain Recovery from Alcohol Abuse
When you stop drinking alcohol, your brain begins to repair itself. The first couple of weeks may seem difficult, but at this stage, you’re still dealing with some moderate deficits in thinking ability. This could be why many people struggle with relapse during this time frame. Many recovery programs will gradually introduce the educational components of rehab as the brain begins to regain function. Within a couple of months, you may feel less confused, distracted or irritated. It becomes easier to remain calm and think clearly. As you maintain sobriety for months and years, you’ll experience considerable improvements in most areas. Within 5-7 years you are likely to have complete or near complete recovery in your short-term and long-term memory as well as your ability to analyze and solve problems by reading, listening, writing and thinking.
Complete Brain Recovery from Alcohol Abuse May Not Be Possible
Depending on the severity and length of your addiction, it may not be possible for your brain to completely heal. Some areas that could continue to be challenging even following recovery from alcoholism include:
- Attention deficit
- Identifying visual and spatial relationships among objects
- Reading and recognizing emotional facial cues
- Recalling general world knowledge
For Help with Alcohol Addiction, Call Design for Change
There are other ways to boost brain cell growth and promote healing within the brain. Taking better care of your overall body through nutrition and exercise helps. Social interaction and education can spur brain cell production as well. In some cases, medication may be prescribed. At Design for Change in Lancaster, California, we work with our clients to develop behavioral and cognitive changes that help them live healthier, drug-free lives. Our supportive team understands that people may turn to drugs or alcohol for relief from a variety of issues. If you suffer from anxiety, depression or other co-occurring disorders, we our equipped to treat these conditions side-by-side with your addiction to help you heal from both. This is a safe place where the entire staff cares and wants to see you make a successful recovery. Contact us today for a confidential conversation about how we can help.