Mystery of alcoholism lies in the neural roots

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Drinking is largely accepted as a social activity, which sometimes can help cope with stress, insomnia, or anxiety. However, it is difficult to quit drinking after becoming addicted. A recent study reveals how alcohol addiction might start.



Your brain can blind you to the side effects of alcohol


According to a team of British and Chinese researchers, co-led by the University of Warwick, the University of Cambridge, and Fudan University in Shanghai, the physical origin of alcohol addiction lies in a network of the human brain that regulates our response to danger.


When the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) at the front of the brain senses unpleasant factors or emergency, it sends the information to the dorsal periaqueductal gray (dPAG) at the brain's core. The latter area processes whether you need to escape the situation. If the information pathway in your brain is imbalanced, you might be at a greater risk of developing alcohol use disorders. Specifically, there are two effects.



First, alcohol inhibits the dPAG so that the brain cannot respond to negative signals or the need to escape from danger, leading you to only feel the benefits of drinking alcohol and not its harmful side effects. This is a possible cause of compulsive drinking.


Second, alcohol addiction may be caused by an over-excited dPAG, which makes you feel that you are in an adverse or unpleasant situation you wish to escape, leading you to turn to alcohol to do so. This is the cause of impulsive drinking.


However, alcohol generally does not do much to relieve concerns and it comes with some significant downsides.



Alcohol abuse can not only harm your health but also affect your safety


Drinking too much alcohol on a single occasion or over time can cause various health problems. For example, heavy drinking may cause increased fat in the liver, inflammation of the liver, and over time even cirrhosis. It may also result in gastritis and esophageal ulcers. Additionally, drinking too much may cause high blood pressure, stroke, eye problems, a weakened immune system, and cancer, among other conditions.


In addition to the effects on your health above, excessive drinking can reduce your judgment and lower inhibitions, leading to dangerous situations or behaviors, including car accidents, drowning, increased likelihood of committing violent crimes, engaging in risky and unprotected sex, and increased risk of suicide.



Other activities may help distract attention from drinking


If drinking has occupied much of your time, you need to fill your free time by developing new healthy hobbies or revisiting an old one. You can take a walk, play sports, or watch a movie. When you are at home, activities such as painting, board games, playing a musical instrument, woodworking are all healthy activities. At the same time, having no alcohol at home can help limit your drinking.


Cutting down on drinking may not always be easy. So, let your friends and family members know when you need their support. If you think you are suffering from health issues, do not hesitate to see a doctor, counselor, or therapist.

3 Answers

These messages are for mutual support and information sharing only. Always consult your doctor before trying anything you read here.
I was married to two alcoholic men and had a son with the horrible disease of alcoholism. Believe me when I tell you, keeping them busy will not help keep them off drinking alcohol. It's in your brain all the time. Constantly eating at you like a starving person. It won't let up. So keeping them busy like an overactive child, will not work. Has any of your people ever lived with an alcoholic? It doesn't sound like it.
This is true my sons father is a alcoholic. And my other sons father is not .the differences between  the two is alarming raised in the same house by the same parents . Treated the same given the same rules living side by side . And my son who's father was a alcoholic never met his dad till he was 30 it's insane and so hard to watch .
I agree with the comments so far. None of those suggestions will change an alcoholic drinker, maybe a "heavy drinker" can curb their habitual drinking but straight from the Big Book of Alcohols Anonymous, there is nothing one can do it say that will compel an alcoholic to stop drinking.
I agree with the comments so far. None of those suggestions will change an alcoholic drinker, maybe a "heavy drinker" can curb their habitual drinking but straight from the Big Book of Alcohols Anonymous, there is nothing one can do it say that will compel an alcoholic to stop drinking.
I totally agree.I have been married to an alcoholic for 32 yrs. After hanging on for so long and hoping and praying things will change,it has not. In and out of rehab and detoxing 3 times, I guess the crave is too powerful because he seems to only be able to last no more than one month.Out of all the standing by and making sure things are taken care of,I can do no more.I am pass hitting rock bottom myself.I can do no more.I must admit that my life and my mind are a wreck and I'm getting myself ready to finally leave for sure this time.Why do I feel so guilty about taking this step? When I should be running!
Perhaps because if this were cancer, would you leave? Yes, I know. The emotional turmoil of living with an addicted person is crazy making, and causes addiction behaviors or coping in those who are close. However, it is a disease. And as such, it is not helpful or valid to attribute failing to stop as some how a moral failure. It is chemical/bio-chemical. Do a bit of research online; there are now drugs that help to take away the craving (naloxone, I believe, is one of them.) I have a friend who was a psychiatric nurse practitioner in addictions prior to her own succumbing to bi-polar disease and alcoholism. She recently was put on gabapentin (a higher than usual dose) and she is amazingly able to withstand the desire for alcohol. So work with a trained psycho-chemical practitioner to find the right combination. He (or she) can get back their lives, but it takes time.
Just help detox a brother.
3x a day 35mg THC in gummy form.
1x smoke before bed.
Sent him home 15 days dried out.
Told him to join AA when he got home.
Hey! I read what you are saying...yes, I can only imagine how strong the crave is for alcohol, because it has him beat when usually he's such a strong person. He do have an upcoming April for some pill to help with his cravings. I'm hoping & praying this is what will help him get back on track of things and ease his cravings. I'm also sure it's not some magical quick fix too. I hope he will do what he needs and work hard to beat this demon.Thanks!
For Michele. I’ve been where you are. You should not feel guilty about saving yourself from a very destructive situation. I agree it’s a disease and I had compassion for my ex but I also could not be a part of such a horrible environment. I suggest you go to some Alanon meetings. It helped me immensely get my sanity back after years of living with an alcoholic
Thanks for your response to my input. There are no easy solutions to anything I say or wish could happen. It's hard, yes I must admit, and although it may seem to some that he's being the way that he is because I stay with him through it all, and he no I will do what I can to pick up the pieces. That's not true really. I  truly don't believe he wants to be the way that he is. Who in their right mind would want that? For another reason we have a house together and I can't leave without worrying about what's happening with him or if he's paying the monthly mortgage. I'm not going to pay it if I'm gone and having to pay to be someplace else. It's crazy tho! I guess I'm an enabler if you really think about it. But if he go down, I go down too with this house. I was told from my last appt with my therapist to begin with the Alanon meeting ASAP.I used to go yrs ago, but stopped. I understand about threats not working, so I been stopped that. My leaving was just letting him no that I can't handle things...anymore. I  only decided to stay because we are both linked to this house and at the moment can't seem to get him to move, but it's in motion now! We have been together for so long and I'm sure it's not easy for him to pull himself out of this seems to be like quick sand to him. He tries, but it don't last. He has an interview tomorrow and although I'm not sure of the outcome,I try to keep things positive. He's very upbeat about it, but guess what he's doing now? Each day is different. Love and Luck everyone!❤
I was married to an abusive alcoholic for almost fifteen years I was beaten day and night me and my two babies at times would all sleep in their bed together or having a bag ready we would hide in the closet it was horrible it's sad that we knew it was coming he never laid a hand on my babies but due to the mental and physical abuse we went through were all on meds now we all three turned to drugs to deal with the pain but now we're all off doing good except the fact we all deal with bad anxiety I toobfrlt guilty I tried to leave several times but he would find me say his sorry band aid stuff but I finally did it don't feel guilty you have to live from a far hon,love I meant it was the best thing I ever did because it's not just him causing damage to himself but all the people around him you have to live
Amen been there I agree so happy now that I left my fifteen year abusive marriage
My stepson has been detoxed more times than I am count . He has lost his colon and still goes fir the bottle as soon Ashe is released . He has been in numerous rehabilitation centers and the results are the same . There is no way he is going to stop  . He won’t take RX to keep him from drinking. He is homeless. I have prayed and still he is drinking. He almost died recently. He still wants the bottle . I’m at my wits end . He has no family . His parents are dead.
Stepmother, I'm so sorry to hear what you have been going through. As I read others experiences, I can actually understand better that alcoholism isn't "just a wake up tomorrow" and decide to do better because of failing health or being alone. It's so much deeper and as I look at my husband on a daily basis and see where he come athlete in school to top in his military career, to now,looking like an unsteady weakling,I feel so sorry that he and so many others are having to suffer with this terrible addiction.We both have our good days and bad days, but praying for a change one day because I just don't know how much more suffering someone's body, mind and spirit can bear this. Continually praying for us all!
Praying for you all and my 2 oldest daughters. One now living with me because of eviction from their Fl home of 30+ years. Other one has to go thru broken clavicle surgery. Drunk and fell in her home. Her only child a beautiful loving daughter and her 3 year old grandbaby girl...drowned in LA Bayou where her daughter lost control of her truck due to drinking. She HATED her mom drinking. One living with me is a precious angel too and we love each other so much. But her drinking and changing from an angel one minute to an hour later to a fuckingtotal bitch. One more event like now 4a.m and she'll be looking for a new home WITHOUT MY HELP like what helped them get here. I hate that f word. Please forgive.I cannot think of words harsh enough to describe the hell she's put me thru 4-5 times in 5 weeks. My husband was killed in an auto /horse accident 54 days before we lost our two girls. I still suffer physical damages as well as heartache. I'm 81.5 and have never lived like this since I was a child and dad drank and would get mean and hateful.. I can't live like this!!! My husband would have never let them move in our peaceful happy home more than 2 weeks.
God bless you for finally finding Strength to do it.
Al-Anon may be a place where you can meet others who've asked the questions like "why won't they stop? Am I not good enough to stop?" You deserve happiness and peace of mind. Alcoholism destroys families. The alcoholic has a disease. They may want to quit but physical pain, emotional turmoil may be too great. Take care of YOU! God speed.

As an alcoholic who no longer drinks(after30+yrs) realizing alcohol has power over you that you cannot control avoiding that first drink is key!.After the first one control is lost and the obsession in control! Remember the devastation caused by past drinking bouts! Talk with others who share your disease(alcoholism).Profession is help, and others in recovery know your pain(AA,NA,etc) .

As an alcoholic in recovery of 26 years, my personal experience is that nothing; threats to leave- ultimatums-loss of family, poor health, loss of employment, legal issues or a hundred other types of pressures to stop drinking, did not work. It wasn’t until I hit a complete and utter bottom that I reached out for help. These issues were good motivators and played a part in my ultimate surrender, but unfortunately I had lost most of them by then. The program of Alcoholics Anonymous saved my life, it’s not for everyone, but works best for most. The program of Alanon was created for family members of alcoholics and has been a source  of great support for those living with an active
 alcoholic. Bottom line: help is free and available should you choose to take the first step.
We hear you!❤❤❤
Been married 31 yrs to my high school sweetheart. Last yr he had Open Heart surgery after we found out he had a birth defect to his heart Hypertrophic Cardio Myopathy. Was off 26 weeks he never received any cardiac rehab due to COVID. I went back to work , he got bored so started hanging around old friend from high school started drinking one thing led to another he cheated with a 23 yr old I told him he need to choose us or the alcohol and all that goes with it . Gave him 2 weeks still the same answer so we moved to our other home, our 2 sons and I . He started coming around said he was sorry and wanted us to work. Then a month later an old fling before we started dating her husband died . Long story short they are living in the past act like the kids and I are nothing and we are crazy . He hadn't drank since high school now he says he doesn't want to stop he doesn't care .
Wow! So sorry to hear your situation seems to be always something huh? Hang in there. Although it feels like you're alone, you're not!❤