Alcoholism Is Causing Brain Damage Earlier Than Ever Before Realized

Long term heavy drinking may be doing even more damage to brain functions than previously realized.

Addictions professionals and medical personnel have long witnessed the cognitive deficits and even premature dementia induced by years of chronic and heavy drinking, and no one disputes the harm that alcohol does to the mind. Magnetic imaging and autopsy testing has also clearly shown evidence of significant cell death, brain shrinkage, and structural damage in the brains of people who had lived with years of heavy abuse; but new research out of Japan indicates that permanent brain damage may be occurring even in those people who have yet to exhibit any signs of diminished cognitive functioning, or show any physcial or structural changes in the brain.

Researchers out of Keio University compared recovering alcoholics showing no signs of cognitive deficits and with no apparent brain damage, and with an average period of abstinence of 40 months; with a population of never alcohol dependent people. Using brain imaging techniques, and observing blood flow during a mental matching task, the researchers found that key areas of the recovering alcoholic’s brains (including the pre frontal cortex) were receiving less blood during the task than in the brains of the "normal" group of study participants.

The concern is that people yet to show any obvious signs of mental decline, nor exhibit any forms of structural damage (and as such unaware of any neural problems) are in fact sustaining damage and a reduction in mental potential. Essentially, damage is occurring, but people drinking have yet to really notice the damage, and standard diagnostic testing will not spot any physical damage. These latent lesions, as the researchers call them are likely the first stage of alcohol induced brain damage, and since alcoholics don’t realize that they are occurring, they don’t induce people to get help for their drinking. These brain deficits cannot induce sobriety (because people are yet to be aware of the problem) and yet they are only getting worse with time and further abuse.

Heavy drinking is causing brain damage earlier than anyone had ever realized. If you’re drinking heavily, you need to consider treatment help to minimize any potential of neural damage and cognitive declines.

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Long term heavy drinking may be doing even more damage to brain functions than previously realized.

Addictions professionals and medical personnel have long witnessed the cognitive deficits and even premature dementia induced by years of chronic and heavy drinking, and no one disputes the harm that alcohol does to the mind. Magnetic imaging and autopsy testing has also clearly shown evidence of significant cell death, brain shrinkage, and structural damage in the brains of people who had lived with years of heavy abuse; but new research out of Japan indicates that permanent brain damage may be occurring even in those people who have yet to exhibit any signs of diminished cognitive functioning, or show any physcial or structural changes in the brain.

Researchers out of Keio University compared recovering alcoholics showing no signs of cognitive deficits and with no apparent brain damage, and with an average period of abstinence of 40 months; with a population of never alcohol dependent people. Using brain imaging techniques, and observing blood flow during a mental matching task, the researchers found that key areas of the recovering alcoholic’s brains (including the pre frontal cortex) were receiving less blood during the task than in the brains of the "normal" group of study participants.

The concern is that people yet to show any obvious signs of mental decline, nor exhibit any forms of structural damage (and as such unaware of any neural problems) are in fact sustaining damage and a reduction in mental potential. Essentially, damage is occurring, but people drinking have yet to really notice the damage, and standard diagnostic testing will not spot any physical damage. These latent lesions, as the researchers call them are likely the first stage of alcohol induced brain damage, and since alcoholics don’t realize that they are occurring, they don’t induce people to get help for their drinking. These brain deficits cannot induce sobriety (because people are yet to be aware of the problem) and yet they are only getting worse with time and further abuse.

Heavy drinking is causing brain damage earlier than anyone had ever realized. If you’re drinking heavily, you need to consider treatment help to minimize any potential of neural damage and cognitive declines.

Risks of Taking Ecstasy in a Hot Club Environment

Spanish researchers at the University of Navarra have conclusively linked increased ambient air temperatures with an increase in the neural damage done by consumed ecstasy.

Taking ecstasy in a hot club environment increases the risks of neural damage. Heat makes it worse. The ambient temperature at which ecstasy is taken influences the neural damage done by the drug. Using animal model studies in which rats were dosed with ecstasy at temperatures ranging from 15 to 30 degrees centigrade, and examining the resultant neural damage, researchers have causally linked the ambient air temperature during consumption with an increased risk for neural damage and deficits.

They explain that if ecstasy were somehow dosed directly into the brain, there would be no risk of neural damage, and the damage caused seems to be induced by the bodily metabolism of the consumed drug. Higher ambient air temperatures increase the speed and extent of the metabolism, and the higher the ambient air temperature, the greater the risk of neural damage. The problem for drug users is that people most often take ecstasy in a club setting, in which many people may share a poorly ventilated and confined space, greatly increasing ambient temperatures. A heated club environment exacerbates the neural damage done by increasing the metabolism of the consumed drug.

The seratonergic systems, those that regulate mood, memory and sleep, seem most affected and damaged by ecstasy; and researchers who have long known that heavy ecstasy consumption can induce serious neural deficits, now also realize that even occasional and minimal consumption does also induce some damage. If you take ecstasy, even once, you do likely suffer some degree of neural consequences, and the more you take it, the greater the permanent damage done.

It now seems that damage can be alternatively minimized or increased depending on the temperature in which the drug is taken. Hard dancing ecstasy consumers, already at risk for fatal hyperthermia through a loss in internal temperature regulating mechanisms, have another reason to fear the heat of the dance club. If you must take ecstasy…do it in the snow!

Spanish researchers at the University of Navarra have conclusively linked increased ambient air temperatures with an increase in the neural damage done by consumed ecstasy.

Taking ecstasy in a hot club environment increases the risks of neural damage. Heat makes it worse. The ambient temperature at which ecstasy is taken influences the neural damage done by the drug. Using animal model studies in which rats were dosed with ecstasy at temperatures ranging from 15 to 30 degrees centigrade, and examining the resultant neural damage, researchers have causally linked the ambient air temperature during consumption with an increased risk for neural damage and deficits.

They explain that if ecstasy were somehow dosed directly into the brain, there would be no risk of neural damage, and the damage caused seems to be induced by the bodily metabolism of the consumed drug. Higher ambient air temperatures increase the speed and extent of the metabolism, and the higher the ambient air temperature, the greater the risk of neural damage. The problem for drug users is that people most often take ecstasy in a club setting, in which many people may share a poorly ventilated and confined space, greatly increasing ambient temperatures. A heated club environment exacerbates the neural damage done by increasing the metabolism of the consumed drug.

The seratonergic systems, those that regulate mood, memory and sleep, seem most affected and damaged by ecstasy; and researchers who have long known that heavy ecstasy consumption can induce serious neural deficits, now also realize that even occasional and minimal consumption does also induce some damage. If you take ecstasy, even once, you do likely suffer some degree of neural consequences, and the more you take it, the greater the permanent damage done.

It now seems that damage can be alternatively minimized or increased depending on the temperature in which the drug is taken. Hard dancing ecstasy consumers, already at risk for fatal hyperthermia through a loss in internal temperature regulating mechanisms, have another reason to fear the heat of the dance club. If you must take ecstasy…do it in the snow!

Small first time doses of ecstasy proven to damage the brain

Ecstasy has now been proven harmful, even when taken in small doses by new users.

While previous clinical studies have proven that usage of MDMA, the serotonergic acting drug commonly called ecstasy, can have profound and lasting implications; Dutch researchers have found that even initial and limited exposure to the drug causes brain damage and leads to decreases in cognitive testing performances.

Heavy ecstasy use can cause depression, insomnia, irritability, confusion, poor cognition and poor memory performance; and this is not entirely surprising since the drug acts through a process of serotonin modification, and serotonin is uniquely important for mood and memory in the brain. Researchers previously however had no idea how much ecstasy use was required to cause these deficits, and how much impact a small amount of the drug would have.

A Dutch research group aimed to change this and undertook a before and after study of 188 volunteers who had never previously tried the drug, but were deemed at a high risk to try the drug in the future. Researchers performed brain scans on the volunteers before exposure to the drug, and additionally performed cognitive and memory testing on the subjects. After 18 months, 59 of these subjects had tried ecstasy, and they had consumed an average of 6 tablets each during this time period.

The rest of the volunteers had not.

The same scanning and testing was again performed, and researchers were surprised to find that even this small and initial exposure to ecstasy had caused significant impairments in cognitive testing, particularly in verbal memory performance, as well as in blood flow to certain regions of the brain. The damage was not severe but was significantly evident, and had occurred after the consumption of relatively small amounts of the drug.

The research leaders have as a result reported that in their clinical opinion, any exposure to ecstasy is harmful, and people should avoid experimenting with the drug due to the probability of long term brain damage.

A recent survey of American high school seniors indicates that almost 5% had tried the drug, and the usage of the drug seems to be on the rise. There is a mis perception as to the safety of the drug, and the public needs to know that ecstasy is not a safe drug, that long term use can cause serious damage and greatly increases the risk of experienced depression, and additionally that the damage to the brain starts occurring even after only small doses of the drug have been used.

I’ve never tried ecstasy, I guess I’m a bit of an old timer now, but I have no doubt that I would have tried it were I a teenager today. Ecstasy is perceived as a fairly safe and non addictive drug, and it’s unfortunate that this perception is false. The risks of the drug are high, and although I’ve no doubt that it’s a lot of fun; is one night of fun worth the risk of a life time of depression and other cognitive and affective side effects? If you use ecstasy regularly, get educated as to the health consequences of use, and consider stopping, or at least reducing your usage. Ecstasy can be addictive, and professional treatment may be required in some cases.

Ecstasy has now been proven harmful, even when taken in small doses by new users.

While previous clinical studies have proven that usage of MDMA, the serotonergic acting drug commonly called ecstasy, can have profound and lasting implications; Dutch researchers have found that even initial and limited exposure to the drug causes brain damage and leads to decreases in cognitive testing performances.

Heavy ecstasy use can cause depression, insomnia, irritability, confusion, poor cognition and poor memory performance; and this is not entirely surprising since the drug acts through a process of serotonin modification, and serotonin is uniquely important for mood and memory in the brain. Researchers previously however had no idea how much ecstasy use was required to cause these deficits, and how much impact a small amount of the drug would have.

A Dutch research group aimed to change this and undertook a before and after study of 188 volunteers who had never previously tried the drug, but were deemed at a high risk to try the drug in the future. Researchers performed brain scans on the volunteers before exposure to the drug, and additionally performed cognitive and memory testing on the subjects. After 18 months, 59 of these subjects had tried ecstasy, and they had consumed an average of 6 tablets each during this time period.

The rest of the volunteers had not.

The same scanning and testing was again performed, and researchers were surprised to find that even this small and initial exposure to ecstasy had caused significant impairments in cognitive testing, particularly in verbal memory performance, as well as in blood flow to certain regions of the brain. The damage was not severe but was significantly evident, and had occurred after the consumption of relatively small amounts of the drug.

The research leaders have as a result reported that in their clinical opinion, any exposure to ecstasy is harmful, and people should avoid experimenting with the drug due to the probability of long term brain damage.

A recent survey of American high school seniors indicates that almost 5% had tried the drug, and the usage of the drug seems to be on the rise. There is a mis perception as to the safety of the drug, and the public needs to know that ecstasy is not a safe drug, that long term use can cause serious damage and greatly increases the risk of experienced depression, and additionally that the damage to the brain starts occurring even after only small doses of the drug have been used.

I’ve never tried ecstasy, I guess I’m a bit of an old timer now, but I have no doubt that I would have tried it were I a teenager today. Ecstasy is perceived as a fairly safe and non addictive drug, and it’s unfortunate that this perception is false. The risks of the drug are high, and although I’ve no doubt that it’s a lot of fun; is one night of fun worth the risk of a life time of depression and other cognitive and affective side effects? If you use ecstasy regularly, get educated as to the health consequences of use, and consider stopping, or at least reducing your usage. Ecstasy can be addictive, and professional treatment may be required in some cases.