The results of a new study from Indiana University compared the brain activity of alcoholic women, like those who seek the help of our alcohol detox Delray Beach program, to that of women not addicted to alcohol. The study, which used functional magnetic resonance imaging or fMRI, found surprisingly distinct differences between the brains of alcoholic and non-alcoholic women. Researchers believe that the anterior insular region of the brain could play a strong role in the development of alcoholism in women.
Binge Drinking on the Rise in Women at Our Alcohol Detox Delray Beach Program
This study is part of a larger effort by researchers to better understand the gender differences between men and women who need the services like our alcohol detox Delray Beach program. Differences in the way that men and women process alcohol make understanding the mechanisms behind female alcoholism particularly important. Women become addicted to alcohol much more quickly than men, and experience physiological damage due to its effects much sooner. For women, the dangers of drinking too much alcohol include heart disease, liver damage and breast cancer. The threshold of safe weekly alcohol consumption for women has been set at eight drinks, compared to 14 for men.
However, binge drinking is on the rise among women. One in five teen girls binge drinks at least three times monthly. One in eight women between the ages of 18 and 54 binge drinks at least three times monthly. According to the CDC, a drinking binge is defined as consuming four or more drinks in less than two hours if one is woman, or five or more drinks in less than two hours of one is a man. The more often a woman binge drinks, the greater the danger that she will find herself in need of a program like our alcohol detox in Delray Beach.
Identifying Differences in Brain Network Activation Among Alcoholic Women
In order to better understand what causes women to need our alcohol detox Delray Beach program, researchers devised a set of “ecological” tasks. For the study, participants were asked to first make decisions about control stimuli – like food or neutral stimuli – so that researchers could establish a baseline for risky behavior in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic women.
Then, study participants were asked to make a decision about one of two situations regarding alcohol – a low-risk situation and a high-risk situation. In the low-risk situation, study participants were told to imagine they were in a bar, and that they had been offered a drink, along with two shots, and a ride home. For the high-risk situation, study participants were again asked to imagine themselves in a bar, where they were offered a drink, along with six shots, and no ride home.
Lindsay Arcurio, a grad student in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, said of the two scenarios, “We wanted to take a sledgehammer approach to really find the differences between cases that are definitely high-risk and those that are definitely low-risk.” In other words, by drawing such a clear distinction between the low-risk and the high-risk scenarios, researchers were better able to distinctly see the brain differences between women who do and women who do not need services like our alcohol detox Delray Beach program.
Women in the control group demonstrated less brain activity in regions associated with “approach behavior,” the sort of behavior required to decide to take the drink in a high-risk situation. Instead, these women demonstrated brain activity in the region associated with a relaxed, enacted or resting mental state, which many believe is also associated with thinking about one’s future.
In contrast, alcoholic women in the study did not demonstrate reduced activity in any of the three brain regions studied. Instead they demonstrated activity in the part of the brain associated with reward and pleasure, activity in the part associated with resting or thinking about one’s future, and activity in the part associated with cognitive control. Researchers believe these findings mean that women who need programs like our alcohol detox in Delray Beach have trouble switching between one region of the brain and another when making a decision regarding alcohol; they are unable to settle on an appropriate strategy.
Deactivating one part of the brain in order to activate another – what the researchers describe as “switching between networks” – is a function that’s associated with the anterior insular and anterior cingulate regions, where significant differences between the alcoholic women and the non-alcoholic women were found. This leads researchers to believe that the insula could be implicated in female alcoholism. New treatments for alcoholism in women could someday target this region of the brain.
If you’re struggling with alcoholism, you don’t have to face it alone. Call us today @ 888-699-5679 to learn more about our alcohol detox Delray Beach program.