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Higher glutamate level in brain may trigger alcohol cravings in AUD sufferers: Study

Higher glutamate level in brain may trigger alcohol cravings in AUD sufferers: Study

August 30 | By Rachael

People often end up drinking more than they intend to or for longer periods. There may be cases where they are unable to rein in their drinking habit despite facing harmful effects of prolonged drinking. Those who experience a strong urge to drink even during periods of abstinence suffer from alcohol use disorder (AUD).

While different levels of craving are said to be linked to different neurotransmitter systems, a recent study unearthed an association between craving and the levels of glutamate in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (LDLPFC) of those afflicted with AUD.

For the study titled “Elevated Glutamate Levels in the Left Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex Are Associated with Higher Cravings for Alcohol,” published online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research in July 2016, the researchers used proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS). The scientists indicated how glutamate levels in LDLPFC are linked with the intensity of cravings felt by people suffering from AUD.

Higher glutamate levels in brain of AUD sufferers

Fourteen respondents, including eight women and six men, were made to undergo 1H-MRS to study the glutamate levels in the LDLPFC. The details obtained were processed with LCModel and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which was corrected to create metabolite concentrations. The researchers then made use of the Pennsylvania Alcohol Craving Scale (PACS), apart from interviewing the participants to measure their alcohol cravings and drinking patterns.

The observations pointed to a major positive association between the CSF-corrected levels of glutamate and scores obtained on the PACS. Dichotomized PACS scores indicated higher glutamate levels in those with increased cravings for alcohol when compared to the respondents exhibiting decreased craving levels for alcohol.

The study showed that glutamate levels in the LDLPFC are linked to the severity of alcohol cravings in patients suffering from AUD. The scientists suggested the use of glutamate spectroscopy to help in identifying the physiological attributes that may result in cravings for alcohol and to pinpoint the necessary treatment options.

Seeking treatment

People suffering from AUD undergo an ordeal when they attempt to restrain themselves from alcohol. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly 16.3 million American adults (6.8 percent) suffered from AUD in 2014. In the same year, an estimated 679,000 children aged 12 to 17 (2.7 percent of this age group) had AUD.

A related study, titled “Epidemiology of DSM-5 Alcohol Use Disorder: Results From the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions,” published online in the journal JAMA Psychiatry in August 2015 revealed the life time prevalence of AUD to be approximately 29.1 percent. The study that was done to understand the prevalence of AUD along with co-occurring mental disorders had found co-occurring psychiatric disorders across all levels of AUD severity.

There is an urgent need to educate people about the harmful effects of alcohol consumption, while stressing on the impact of AUD. Alcohol is the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the U.S. People need to know the importance of seeking timely help before the occurrence of any untoward incidents and to be informed about various treatment options available.

If a loved one is afflicted with AUD and you are looking for alcohol addiction treatment in Colorado, call the 24/7 Colorado Alcohol Addiction Helpline for immediate assistance. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-592-9261 or chat online to know about the best alcohol rehab in Colorado.

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