Abandoning the addiction to alcohol is not easy at all, it is a constant struggle, and the real exam begins when patients suffer withdrawal symptoms and crave like crazy to restore drinking habits. Medical researchers examined this behavior and came to know that during the initial times of treatment, chemical reactions in the brain persuade the patient to drink more and more, resulting in treatment failures. As such, one study, in particular, examined any associations between individuals diagnosed with alcohol use disorder and their brain network particularly the striatum and ventromedial prefrontal cortex.
During this recent study, Yale University researchers evaluated the MRI scans of patients with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). They assessed the images, which were taken one day to two weeks from their last alcohol use. On evaluation, researchers found a significant neuronal activity disturbance in the decision-making areas of the brain (ventromedial prefrontal cortex and striatum), following the last time the patient consumed alcohol.
In other words, brain activity disturbances were clearly associated with the last time patients drank alcohol. These disturbances would then lead to more heavy drinking amid the therapy, creating hurdles in achieving alcohol-free status for alcoholic patients under treatment.
However, the study figured out that the intensity of neuronal disruption, owing to alcohol, decreases gradually if the alcoholic patients remained determined and kept on avoiding alcohol.
“For people with AUD, the brain takes a long time to normalize, and each day is going to be a struggle,” said Rajita Sinha, the Foundations Fund Professor of Psychiatry and professor in the Child Study Centre, professor of neuroscience, and senior author of the study. “For these people, it is ‘one day at a time.'”
Hence, this study would assist in estimating the risk of relapse and curbing treatment failure in alcoholics. Moreover, the researchers suggested that there would be a possibility of developing medications, targeting the disruption in brain activity during the phase of early treatment. In fact, Sinha and colleagues are now working on blood-pressure-lowering drugs to control the abrupt neural activity in the prefrontal-striatal network.
This study has paved a clear pathway for future researches which are required to help enhance the compliance of alcoholic patient in the early stages of their treatment process. Also, further research work is needed to investigate various ways to handle vigorous neuronal activity in the brain, leading to less alcohol intake and better patient adherence to the treatment regime.