Alcohol Brain Fog: How to Heal Your Brain

Studies using novel radioligands to assess other receptor targets and neurochemical systems including the endocannabinoid and glutamatergic systems is less advanced, but a few selective tracers do exist. It must be acknowledged that PET/SPECT is somewhat limited as a technique because of its radioactivity meaning that young people and repeat scanning cannot be carried out. Nevertheless, PET/SPECT imaging is still the only way to directly image neurotransmitter receptors and neurotransmitter release (when sensitive tracers are available) in the living human brain.

In addition to the direct effects of alcohol on the brain, dehydration, sleep deprivation, and withdrawal symptoms, there are other factors that can contribute to brain fog and other health issues when consuming alcohol. Caffeine directly impacts dopamine levels and other neurotransmitters contributing to your overall brain functioning, sleep, appetite, and mood. This is why people living with conditions like ADHD, anxiety, and depression, for example, may find themselves consuming a large amounts of caffeine as they try to cope with dopamine and other neurotransmitter differences.

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Alcohol abuse causes this type of damage by depleting the body of thiamine, which is an essential vitamin for the brain. The Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a alcohol brain fog type of brain damage that is usually caused by overconsumption of alcohol. Suppose you are struggling to manage your stress levels and alcohol consumption.

alcohol brain fog

Changes in OFC binding correlated significantly with problematic drinking and subjective high in heavy drinkers but not in controls [141]. In abstinent alcohol dependent individuals a greater MOR availability in the ventral striatum, as measured by [11C]Carfentanil, compared with healthy controls was correlated with a greater craving for alcohol [142]. Increased MOR binding could be due to higher receptor levels or reduced release of endogenous endorphins. It was later postulated that greater [11C]Carfentanil binding could be related to reduced β-endorphins in alcoholism. Post-mortem studies have noted a 23–51% reduction in MOR binding [143] in alcohol dependent individuals when compared with controls. Preclinical data suggests that nalmefene counters alcohol-induced dysregulations of the MOR/endorphin and the KOR/dynorphin system [141].

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Further studies are required to elucidate receptor changes in response to alcohol consumption and dependence across all known neurotransmitter systems. According to a 2021 study in Scientific Reports, heavy drinking could lead to loss of brain volume. The researchers found that people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) had less brain matter than people without AUD. The affected brain regions controlled skills like attention, language, memory, and reasoning.

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