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Protect Your Brain: Immediate Benefits Of Cutting Alcohol Revealed In New Study Health News

A recent study published in Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that reducing alcohol consumption can be beneficial for people with alcohol use disorder (AUD) concerning their brain health. Let's explore what this study reveals and what it means for individuals who may be struggling with AUD.

Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, AUD is described as a brain disorder characterised by an inability to stop or control alcohol use, despite its negative impact on relationships, health, or work life.

Study Findings

The study, conducted on 68 individuals aged 28 to 70 with AUD, compared them to a control group of 34 people of similar ages who were either non-drinkers or light drinkers. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to assess the volume of different brain regions.

The study found that when people with alcohol use disorder either reduced their alcohol intake or quit drinking completely, they had greater volume in particular regions of the brain than people who drank more heavily.

The authors suggest that, given the difficulty of quitting entirely, cutting back alcohol consumption may be a more doable goal for some than complete abstinence.

Impact on the Hippocampus

Dr. Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical Lead at Treated, noted that this particular study shows that even moderate alcohol consumption can cause the hippocampus, which is associated with learning and memory, to reduce in size over time.

This could be, in part, because the hippocampus is an area of the brain with a unique and delicate structure,” he said, “where new neurons are constantly being created through neurogenesis.

According to Atkinson, previous studies have shown that high levels of alcohol consumption can interfere with this process.

Dehydration and Brain Shrinkage

Atkinson further explained that long-term alcohol use might also cause shrinkage because alcohol is a diuretic and causes water to be removed from your body.

This effect would be mostly seen across the whole brain though," he added, "whereas the recent study shows hippocampus shrinkage most predominantly, suggesting that neurogenesis inhibition plays a bigger role in the reduction of brain size."

Tips for Cutting Back on Drinking

If you're looking to reduce your alcohol consumption, here are some helpful strategies:

Ashley Loeb Blassingame — a certified alcohol and drug counselor, relapse prevention specialist, and interventionist — had several tips for reducing alcohol consumption.

"For those trying to cut back on their alcohol consumption, support groups can offer both emotional support and accountability," she said.

1. Mindful Drinking:

- Pay attention to the amount and frequency of your alcohol consumption. Be more conscious and make deliberate choices about when and how much to drink.
- Use smartphone apps like Sunnyside or Reframe to track your consumption.
- Join a peer-support community like where you can gain support and advice from other people who are also working to reduce their drinking.

2. Stay Well-Hydrated Throughout the Day:

- "Often, we mistake thirst for the urge to consume alcohol," she said. Drinking water between alcoholic beverages can also help you reduce alcohol consumption.

3. Seek Out Non-Alcoholic Alternatives:

- These can "provide the ritual of a drink without the alcohol content," said Blassingame, noting there are plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives available, such as:

- herbal teas
- sparkling waters
- mocktails

4. Set Yourself a Predetermined Limit:

- Before attending events where alcohol might be served, set the intention that you will only drink a certain amount.
- "Stick to it, and enlist a friend or accountability group to help keep you accountable," she said.

"Finding help when reducing intake becomes challenging," Blassingame concluded. "For many, reducing or eliminating alcohol isn't a straightforward journey. It's OK to seek help if you find this process overwhelming."


This study suggests that both quitting and reducing alcohol consumption can benefit brain health by minimising shrinkage in certain brain regions. While quitting entirely is most advantageous, cutting back to low-risk levels can still help, making it a more realistic goal for those with AUD. Remember, support is available, and seeking help is perfectly okay on the journey to healthier drinking habits.

This article was brought to you by HealthPlan, Spain's leading private health insurance provider.

Source: HealthLine - Alcohol Clinical & Experimental Research