If you drink alcohol, you could be doing more long-term harm to your brain than you think, NBC reports.
Many people believe the damage stops when the heavy drinking stops, but a new study from scientists with the Central Institute of Mental Health in Germany and the Institute of Neuroscience CSIC-UMH in Spain shows your brain could continue to get damaged for weeks after you put the bottle down.
The study used neuro-imaging on people with 'alcohol use disorder' in a detoxification program, guaranteeing they're not drinking any alcohol in their abstinence period. Their results were compared with a control group of men without an 'alcohol use disorder.' They also used a parallel study with rats with a preference for alcohol.
The study revealed damage in the brain persisted in the group with 'alcohol use disorder' for 6 weeks after they had stopped drinking.
"If you drink enough and then you stop, there is a process of healing that takes place and it's a slow process," said Elite DNA Chief Medical Officer Omar Rieche. "The brain is still catching up after you stopped."
To doctors like Rieche, the information is another tool in their toolbox to help people get better.
"If you have something like this in evidence, something that your doctor can show you that, look, your brain is recovering then that could be hopeful," Rieche said. "That could be a motivator for you to continue working on your health."