We all know the stereotype of the local drunk who quits drinking with every hangover, but is back on the sauce by sundown. But it turns out there is more to alcoholism than normal human short-sightedness. A new study suggests that alcoholism - or the process of quitting - actually damages the part of the brain that allows us to control our urges. Thus, each time a recovering alcoholic goes back to the bar, he or she may be reducing her ability to quit long-term.
Researchers looked at the behaviour and brain activity of alcoholic patients who had recently undergone detoxification, and found that the very act of detoxification from alcohol results in damage to the areas of the brain that veto spontaneous desire - such as the desire to drink.
And the really bad news is that repeated detoxifications cause further damage, making it even harder for alcoholics to remain dry.
...She adds that, when planning detoxifications of alcoholic patients, they, their medical advisers, and support teams need to ensure that everything is set up to give the optimal chance that a single detoxification is sufficient to accomplish control over drinking. "If it fails, and the patient relapses, it will become progressively more difficult to abstain on future occasions.