Alcohol Use and Neurodegenerative Risk

alcohol use

Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, can be devastating diagnoses in older adults. The loss of mental cognition and motor skills makes independent functioning almost impossible. Previous studies on these diseases showed that genetic and environmental factors can contribute to a neurodegenerative risk. A recent study looked at the potential connection between an alcohol use disorder and developing Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s later in life. 

Long Term Effects of Alcohol on the Brain

The study, pre-published online, looked at the retroactive link between individuals with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s who had been diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder. Within the study, researchers found that those with an alcohol use disorder had a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This disorder was also associated with a heightened risk of Parkinson’s disease. Both men and women had an equal risk of these diseases, but the risk of Parkinson’s varied by race.

The Importance of Recognizing Risk

Excessive alcohol consumption has both immediate and long-term cognition and health effects. Decision-making skills, liver functioning, and heart disease are all potential consequences of heavy drinking. Understanding the potential risks involved in this practice helps reduce the likelihood of a person developing an alcohol use disorder. An alcohol use disorder is a lifelong battle. People with this diagnosis are more likely to experience the long-term effects of drinking and often struggle to recover. 

Bringing awareness about the consequences of excessive drinking can help both those who have a current addiction and those at risk for one. Neurodegenerative disorders are especially concerning because there is currently no way to reverse damage after it occurs. An increased understanding about the risk of alcohol addiction can encourage those who are struggling to pursue recovery.

Reducing the Risk of Alcohol-Related Disease

For those who have an alcohol addiction, the first line of defense in reducing the chance of developing long-term consequences is sobriety. Some minor health issues can be reversed once alcohol consumption ceases. There are also lifestyle changes and potential medications your doctor can recommend to help with medical symptoms. However, preventing permanent effects comes from immediate change. Once a person starts exhibiting signs of neurodegenerative disease, it’s usually impossible to reverse these effects. 

Getting Help for an Alcohol Use Disorder

Those in stressful professions, such as the medical, dental, and legal fields, often struggle to cope with the demands of their jobs. As a result, they turn to substance use to manage their stress. At Providence Treatment, we understand the life stressors of these professions and the need for effective treatment. Our Pennsylvania addiction treatment center offers multiple levels of care, including a partial hospitalization program and outpatient treatment. If you are a professional struggling with an alcohol addiction, reduce your risk of long-term disease by contacting our team today.

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