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Brain Waves Point to Relapse

Posted in Relapse Prevention

Many alcoholics entering into treatment programs willingly are most often eager to make positive changes in their lives. Despite all the work that goes into recovery, some alcoholics jump back into the drinking habit at some point. Researchers are looking at brain waves to decipher which addicts are more prone to relapse.

According to a recent report from the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, one of the hot topics in research today is finding a way to reduce the high rate of relapse. By looking at the neural responses in the brain, scientists are seeing similar brain wave activity in groups of individuals who later relapse.

Focusing on the prefrontal lobe where urges are suppressed and emotion is regulated, scientists observe that when imagining a relaxed situation, individuals who later relapse are more likely to show activity in this region of the brain while those who don’t relapse show less activity in relaxed environments.

Most alcoholics that seek treatment will relapse an average of one time over the course of their recovery attempts. But individuals with an active prefrontal lobe are an estimated eight times more likely to relapse than their counterparts.

Individuals with an extreme amount of activity in that area of the brain were found to be more likely to return to drinking with more gusto and for a longer period of time before their next attempt at sobriety than those with less activity.

Researchers believe that if they can determine who is at greater risk of relapse before they turn back to the bottle, treatment programs can address the issue before it becomes a problem.