Cognitive decline is a natural part of aging for many people, but a recent study published in the journal Neurology found that men who drink heavily during middle age experience a far more rapid mental decline when compared to those who drink minimally or not at all.
The Effects of Drinking During Middle Age
So what exactly does “heavy drinking” look like for the purposes of the study? The research shows that men who drink a minimum of 2.5 alcoholic beverages each day were more likely to do poorly on memory tests about six years earlier than men who drank less each day, according to USA Today, and their cognitive functioning declined about two years earlier as compared to men who drank less.
Participants were, on average, the age of 45 at the time the study began, and 10 years later they participated in memory and cognitive skills tests.
The good news is that only those who drank at these levels throughout the course of the study experienced these negative effects. Participants who quit drinking during the study or cut back to fewer than two alcoholic beverages a day did not exhibit the same poor results on memory and thinking skills tests.
Séverine Sabia, PhD, of the University College London was one of the study’s authors. In a news release, Sabia said: “Much of the research evidence about drinking and a relationship to memory and executive function is based on older populations. Our study focused on middle-aged participants and suggests that heavy drinking is associated with faster decline in all areas of cognitive function in men.”
Quit Early, Quit Now
The study also demonstrates that it isn’t just those who drink heavily during their 20s and 30s who experience negative physical and mental health outcomes. Long-term drinking increases the risks of a number of issues over the course of a lifetime, even if the amount of drinking is only slightly higher than the recommended upper limits (e.g., one drink per day for women, two drinks per day for men).
Cutting back on alcohol intake – or getting help and quitting altogether if that is impossible to do alone – seems to have the potential to stop some of the negative effects of alcohol abuse in their tracks. In other cases, it may also slow the progress of other long-term health problems caused by alcohol abuse and addiction, and depending upon the specifics of the disorder, the negative effects may even be reversed entirely through positive lifestyle changes in recovery.
Learn more about the benefits of alcohol and drug abuse treatment when you contact us at Alta Mira today. You can begin your new life in recovery or help your loved one begin the treatment process.