A study of alcoholics who have abstained from drinking for between six months and 13 years concludes that sobriety can counteract most of the brain and thinking damage caused by heavy drinking, News Today reported Aug. 29.
Researchers looked at a wide range of problem areas for alcoholics, including abstraction/cognitive flexibility, attention, auditory working memory, immediate memory, delayed memory, psychomotor function, reaction time, spatial processing, and verbal skills.
They found that all but spatial processing recovered with sustained sobriety, noting that even alcoholics in long-term recovery may have lingering problems with tasks like map-reading or assembling things.
“Alcoholics may have periods of abstinence, during which time they give their nervous system time for repair,” according to researcher Edith Sullivan of the Stanford University School of Medicine. “Thus, longitudinal studies of alcoholics are critical for identifying functional areas that are targeted by alcoholism, those that are relatively spared, and those that can recover with sobriety.”
The research was published in the September 2006 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
Reference: Fein, G. et al. (September 2006). Cognitive Performance in Long-Term Abstinent Alcoholic Individuals. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 30,: 1538.
From; Join Together Online
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