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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Alcohol Use: Relapse Prevention

alcohol use affects white matter
Alcohol Awareness Month continues, and it’s vital to keep the discussion about the most heavily used substance alive. Today, we would like to cover an alcohol-related topic that people in recovery, or not, should find interesting — the subject of relapse and the importance of remaining abstinent despite how a person feels.

Early recovery from alcohol, or any substance for the matter, is a challenging time. Once alcohol is no longer in the picture, the body begins a transition process of varying lengths of time. The substance may be out of an individual’s bloodstream, but the effects of heavy use can linger for months and years even.

The detoxification stage of recovery is meant to stabilize a patient. Medical professionals utilize medications to prevent any health complications that might arise, such as seizures. Anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and discomfort can drive a person to want to abandon ship before reaching destination recovery. Keeping detox patients comfortable during this period is critical to helping them see the process through.

Withdrawal symptoms from alcohol use can last differing lengths of time. It depends on the person. On average, symptoms diminish within five to seven days of taking the last drink. While physical symptoms can subside in a week, psychological ones can continue for variable lengths depending on the case. Extended care following detox is critical due to this reality.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and long-term use can have lasting ramifications. Heavy drinking impacts brain white matter, which disrupts how different regions in the brain communicate. The alterations, according to new research, can last at least six weeks, MNT reports. The implication being that removing alcohol from the equation does not mean everything is back to “normal.”

Alcohol Use Affects White Matter


residential treatment
Owing to post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS), some patients can experience emotional and psychological symptoms for months or longer. Without a secure support network in place or a safe environment to process emotions, an individual may act on cravings. Deciding to head home following detoxification often proves too much for some people, resulting in relapse.

Healing takes time, three to five days of abstinence isn't a panacea. The brain needs time to readjust and balance itself out. Finding equilibrium is akin to a rollercoaster ride, but life becomes a little easier to handle with each day sober.

The brain is a complicated organ; there is still much that experts do not understand about how drugs affect the mind. However, a new study shows that alcohol use disorder disrupts brain function long after the last drink. Research published in JAMA Psychiatry indicates that AUD patients had a generalized change in the corpus callosum and the fimbria.

The fimbria is responsible for communication between the hippocampus, the nucleus accumbens, and the prefrontal cortex. These regions of the brain play a central role in addiction being the pleasure centers of the brain.
  • The hippocampus is responsible for agreeable memory formation.
  • The nucleus accumbens is the reward-circuit (i.e., desire, satiety, and inhibition).
  • The Prefrontal Cortex handles complex thinking and planning, executive function, decision making, and appropriate social behavior.
Substance use changes how the above structures function. The fact that how pleasure centers communicate is still affected during abstinence is of crucial importance. Dr. Santiago Canals, co-author of the study, said that:

“Until now, nobody could believe that in the absence of alcohol, the damage in the brain would progress.”

 

Central Coast Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment Center


Residential treatment is the safest route for anyone hoping to achieve long-term recovery. Once detox is complete, beginning a course of rehab for either 30, 60, or 90 days can significantly strengthen one’s program of sobriety thus preventing relapse.

Residing in a distraction-free, safe environment is the ideal place for a person’s brain function to normalize. While such changes are underway, individuals learn tools and coping skills for living in recovery.

The Haven at Pismo is the perfect place to renew to your best today. Please contact us to learn more about our detox, residential and outpatient treatment, and transitional living programs.

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