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Long-term abstinence may resolve many of the neurocognitive deficits associated with alcoholism

  • Alcoholism can cause neuropsychological deficits.
  • A new study looks at alcoholics who have been sober for six months to 13 years.
  • Results indicate that long-term abstinent alcoholics can recover many of their neurocognitive deficits, except for spatial-processing abilities.

    Alcoholism can cause neuropsychological deficits, that much is clear. There is much less clarity, however, concerning to what degree recovery may occur with abstinence from alcohol. New findings indicate that long-term abstinence from alcohol can resolve many but not all neurocognitive deficits.

    Results are published in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

    "Previous research has shown some but not total recovery with abstinence from alcohol," said George Fein, president of and senior scientist at Neurobehavioral Research, as well as the corresponding author for the study. "The continuing presence of deficits is not a trivial issue as it may interfere with day-to-day functioning."

    "The nature of alcoholism as a dynamic condition is largely underappreciated by most people, including clinicians," added Edith Sullivan, a professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine. "Alcoholics may have periods of abstinence, during which time they give their nervous system time for repair. Thus, longitudinal studies of alcoholics are critical for identifying functional areas that are targeted by alcoholism, those that are relatively spared, and those that can recover with sobriety."

    Longitudinal studies in alcoholism, however, are very difficult to conduct, Sullivan added. "Tracking active alcoholics is challenging, finding alcoholics in recovery is also difficult - there is still a stigma associated with the condition. Furthermore, those who are in denial of their condition, by definition, will not avail themselve
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  • 27-Aug-2006


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