brain recovery from alcohol timeline

What Is The Timeline For Brain Recovery From Alcohol Addiction?

This entry was posted on by .

The brain has a great feature of repairing itself. A factor that affects brain recovery is brain plasticity or neuroplasticity. This allows your brain to heal from damage and adjust to new ways of thinking and acting. In addition, this healing process starts during detox and many people see changes after two weeks. Furthermore, the brain recovery from alcohol timeline shows that long-term sobriety can restore optimal mental functioning.

How Alcohol Affects the Brain

Drinking alcohol weakens judgment, concentration, and inhibition and a blackout may occur when a person consumes too much. Chronic alcoholism damages the brain in a number of ways.

Alcohol affects the following parts of your brain in different ways:

  • Cerebral Cortex: A person loses judgment and inhibitions are lowered. It also affects perception and how sensory information reaches the brain.
  • Frontal Lobe: This area of the brain helps with planning, decision-making, and self-control. Alcohol impairs the proper functioning of the frontal lobe. In addition, prolonged drinking may cause permanent damage to this area.
  • Hippocampus: Memory and learning are facilitated by this part of the brain. A person may also have a blackout and cannot remember what happened during this time. Prolonged alcohol use can cause permanent damage to memory and learning.
  • Cerebellum: This part controls thinking, coordination, balance, and awareness. Alcohol interference here may cause a loss of balance and coordination.
  • Hypothalamus: Alcohol can cause increased blood pressure, increased hunger and thirst, decreased body temperature, and decreased heart rate when it reaches this area of the brain.
  • Medulla: Alcohol affects this part by interfering with its ability to maintain normal body temperature. It can also slow breathing and heart rate. This part of the brain may shut down and a person may undergo a coma after excessive alcohol use within a short period of time.

Can Your Brain Repair Itself After Alcohol Abuse?

Being an alcoholic for a long period of time greatly damages the brain. However, even a few weeks of sobriety from alcohol does a lot to “undo” the damage. The timeline for brain recovery from alcohol abuse can vary, though the impact is life-changing.

Studies show that improvement in short-term and long-term memory to complete recovery of these functions occurs after alcohol abstinence. Brain structure may also recover as there is an increase in the volume of the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory functions. Sustained abstinence also leads to tissue gain in the brain. The increased volume of tissues relates to better and improved functions of the brain.

What is the Timeline for Brain Recovery from Alcohol Addiction?

The timeline for brain recovery from alcohol can vary, depending upon the person’s addiction. However, the following timeline can give you a rough idea of what to expect:

Two Weeks

Recovering alcoholics experience a variety of thinking deficits at two weeks into recovery. These help explain why relapse rates are high during the first weeks of abstinence.

Two Months

Distractibility, confusion, and irritability may disappear 60 days into the recovery. A recovering alcoholic might be calmer and more clear-headed than before.

Five Years

Remarkable cognitive improvements to full restoration can be experienced from 2 months to 5 years of alcohol abstinence. Some problems such as non-verbal abstract reasoning, non-verbal short-term memory, diminished mental flexibility, and diminished visual-spatial abilities may still be present but all other cognitive functions are already back to a normal state.

Seven Years and Beyond

An average recovering alcoholic has made a nearly complete recovery back to normal functioning. However, a little bit of irreversible damage can still be felt as diminished visual-spatial abilities might still persist.

Why You Need to Get Help With Alcohol Addiction

When you continue to drink, your brain never gets the break it needs to heal. Alcohol will continue to damage your brain, causing issues to worsen. In addition, long-term alcohol abuse can cause brain disorders, such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (or, “wet brain”). Allowing alcohol addiction to continue causes conditions like these as well as other physical and mental health issues.

However, after years of damage to the brain due to excessive alcoholism, you can always choose to embark on a journey towards recovery. Abstinence is one of the key factors of this healing process. That being said, quitting on your own is tough and many people relapse when they don’t get help with alcohol addiction.

Many people become addicted to alcohol due to underlying issues. For instance, many people use alcohol to self-medicate for symptoms of a mental health disorder. Thus, if they don’t deal with the mental health disorder, they are more likely to relapse after detox.

In addition, the following are reasons why you need help for alcoholism:

  • Get relapse prevention skills to manage cravings and triggers
  • Gain positive coping mechanisms for underlying issues
  • Find new healthy behaviors that will further enhance your recovery
  • Learn how to deal with stress and anxiety
  • Build a support system of peers for long-term recovery
  • Repair relationships with loved ones and family members

In other words, treating alcoholism requires more than just quitting drinking. You also need to engage in the recovery process for the best chance of long-term success. As a result, your brain will continue to repair itself, even after years of damage.

Treatment Options for Alcohol Addiction 

Ocean Hills Recovery offers efficient alcohol rehab programs that aim for a successful recovery and a clean, sober life. The programs vary in length and depend largely on the needs of our clients. We offer help through all stages of recovery, from alcohol detox to sobriety. Treatment options also vary and include behavioral treatments, mutual-support groups, and medications to ensure a client can choose what treatment option will suit him.

Behavioral Treatment

Also known as alcohol counseling, it basically refers to working with a mental health professional to identify and correct behaviors leading to excessive drinking.

Mutual Support Groups 

These are programs that give peer support to clients who want to stop drinking. This treatment is effective especially when combined with other treatments provided by health professionals.

Medications 

This is another type of rehabilitation and can help to prevent relapse. Medications counterbalance certain changes in the brain that are brought by alcohol. It might sound convenient but medications do not work for everyone.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Ocean Hills Recovery

Ocean Hills Recovery provides professional alcohol detox services combined with sound methods for treating alcohol addiction. Psychological treatment based on the 12 steps begins after going through detox to ensure the efficiency of the recovery program.

Each client has an opportunity for victory against addiction as our staff does its best to meet the needs of every individual client. Seeing the pain and suffering our guests go through, we give our best in helping them ultimately succeed in their journey toward sober living. Our alcohol detox program helps our clients build new habits and make good connections and leave the negative ones behind.

Before deciding on a treatment program, learn first how each program works. Treatment cost is another important factor in choosing an appropriate treatment plan. You must be persistent and dedicated so that it will work out in the long run. Family and friends are also essential in your journey as their encouragement and words of advice are necessary during this process.

Brain Recovery From Alcohol in Southern California

If you or a loved one suffers from alcohol addiction, you can begin the timeline for brain recovery from alcohol today. Here at Ocean Hills Recovery in Southern California, we are committed to long-term rehabilitation and the assurance of a long-lived success in the battle against alcohol addiction. Contact us today to learn more.

About the author: