It is no secret that alcohol can cause insidious harm to the human body; excessive alcohol use has been linked to a number of forms of cancer and can cause serious harm to one’s liver and/or pancreas. Every year, new research is published showing what can result from prolonged heavy drinking, yet the majority of adults who consume alcohol do not heed the findings. What’s more, one can abuse alcohol without meeting the criteria for alcoholism, and still experience the long term side-effects that can accompany use.
It is important to keep that in mind, considering that many “baby boomers” who are reaching old age and may begin to experience the adverse effects of alcohol. Alcohol-related brain damage often goes undiagnosed, according to experts, and many times it is misdiagnosed as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, The Wall Street Journal reports. When people’s memory begins to slip, it is often attributed to getting older, but alcohol may be the culprit instead.
“As we get older, we all lose a little gray-matter volume and white-matter integrity, but in alcoholics, those areas break down more quickly. It looks like accelerated aging,” says Edith Sullivan, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Stanford University.
Modern brain scanning technology shows that excessive alcohol use over long periods of time can actually damage white-matter fibers that connect the various areas of the brain together, according to the article. It can also alter brain structure, negatively affecting gray-matter cells responsible for:
- Social Behavior
Brain scanning allows doctors to diagnose “alcohol-induced neurocognitive disorder” and “alcohol-related dementia.” Researchers point out there is no way of knowing the threshold that, when crossed, could result in the aforementioned health problems, the article reports. Alcohol affects everyone differently, and there are a number of factors to consider when determining the effects of excessive use, such as:
- Patterns of Use
- General Health
If you believe that your alcohol consumption may be impacting your health, it is best to cease drinking. It’s possible that you may struggle with such a goal and may need outside assistance. Harmony Foundation can help you begin living a life free from alcohol.