Although the harmful effects of alcohol on the brain are widely known, the structural changes observed are very heterogeneous. In addition, diagnostic markers are lacking to characterize brain damage induced by alcohol, especially at the beginning of abstinence, a critical period due to the high rate of relapse that it presents.
Now, a joint work of the Institute of Neuroscience CSIC-UMH, in Alicante, and the Central Institute of Mental Health of Mannheim, in Germany, has detected, by means of magnetic resonance, how the damage in the brain continues during the first weeks of abstinence, although the consumption of alcohol ceases.
The research, published today in JAMA Psychiatry, whose first author is Silvia de Santis, shows that six weeks after stopping drinking there are still changes in the white matter of the brain, as revealed by the neuroimaging study carried out on ninety voluntary patients interned for his rehabilitation treatment in a German hospital.
Silvia De Santis, Patrick Bach, Laura Pérez-Cervera, Alejandro Cosa-Linan, Georg Weil, Sabine Vollstädt-Klein, Derik Hermann, Falk Kiefer, Peter Kirsch, Roberto Ciccocioppo, Wolfgang H. Sommer, Santiago Canals. Microstructural White Matter Alterations in Men With Alcohol Use Disorder and Rats With Excessive Alcohol Consumption During Early Abstinence. JAMA Psychiatry, 2019; DOI: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.0318