The opioid crisis in America is real. Of that, there is no doubt.
Also real is the much larger problem of alcohol abuse disorder – often referred to as alcoholism.
Health experts at the CDC and elsewhere estimate that over 15 million people in America are addicted to alcohol. Equally troubling is the fact that approximately 90,000 adults in the U.S. die from alcohol-related causes every year.
In one recent study, researchers discovered that about 16% of the adult population (~33 million adults) reported binge drinking in the last 30 days, while 7% (~14 million) reported heavy drinking in the same time period.
That alcohol causes physical harm, there is no debate.
Now scientists are grappling with the possibility that just having an alcoholic parent is enough to adversely impact how a child’s brain functions.
Researchers at Purdue and Indiana University recently completed a study looking at how young patients with a family history of alcohol abuse (FHA) manage competing cognitive demands.
They sought to understand whether the brains of those with FHA switched back and forth between different neural networks in the brain the same way those without FHA managed that process.
Brain scan analysis of the subjects of this study clearly shows they do not.
Why does this finding matter?
The ability of the brain to switch effortlessly from more demanding tasks (driving a car or solving a problem) to less demanding ones (emptying the dishwasher) is critical to normal daily function, according to Reza Momenan, director of the Clinical NeuroImaging Research Core at NIAAA.
It’s also a process that’s vital to maintaining one’s nervous system in a stable and healthy equilibrium.
How might these findings be useful in the fight to end alcohol abuse?
Ultimately, these discoveries may help addiction specialists develop new ways of identifying those most at risk for alcohol abuse disorder at an earlier age, allowing for effective early intervention.
If you are struggling with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and need help in Connecticut, New Hampshire or Southern Maine, the recovery teams at Aware Recovery Care are here to help. Our unique model of care is giving clients a significantly better chance of recovery when compared to traditional inpatient rehab care. To learn more or to talk to one of our Recovery Specialists, visit www.awarerecoverycare.com.