The University of Colorado Finds Out Gender Differences in Brain After Drug And Alcohol Use

The consumption of strong drugs (cocaine or methamphetamine in particular) affects the female brain more than the male brain: the male brain does not suffer obvious damage due to addiction. This is the conclusion the scientists from the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine came to.

Drug addiction is not a rear topic for a study since there are various options for rehabilitation facilities in Colorado (outpatient, inpatient, and detox clinics). The state offers the best rehab centers in Colorado for those who is addicted to alcohol, heroin, methamphetamine, or marijuana.

In contrast, women who suffered from long-term addiction and then gave up drugs for at least a year had significantly less gray matter volume than healthy women. At least in those parts of the brain that are responsible, for example, for impulsivity and the desire to receive a reward. As a result, human behavior changes. In men, such a change was not noticed, scientists from the best drug rehabs in Colorado and the University of Colorado reported in the journal Radiology. The recorded relationship can be explained as follows: addiction in women has different development trends than in men.

 “Unlike men, women are more likely to use cocaine or amphetamines at an early age,” explains Jody Tanabe of the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. In addition, drug addiction develops faster in women, it is much more difficult for them to stop using, and the drugs themselves are needed to a much greater extent. This leads to a longer treatment at the best rehabs in Colorado.

In their research, Tanabe and colleagues compared magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain images of 59 former addicts and 68 healthy individuals. There were 28 women in both groups. “We specifically looked at how the effect depends on gender,” says Tanabe. On average, ex-addicts had been addicted to cocaine, and amphetamines (including speed, meth, or crystal meth) for almost 16 years but had been drug-free for more than 13 months at the time of their brain scans.

MRI photos of former drug addicts showed that compared to girls who had never dealt with drugs, the brains of those treated for addiction had significantly less gray matter, in particular in the area of ​​the temporal and frontal lobes, the limbic system, and the parietal lobe. These brain regions are important for, for example, emotion processing, decision making, reward evaluation, and habit formation.

The observed changes in the brain lead to changes in behavior: the small volume of gray matter in the female head explains the increase in impulsivity, inflated expectations of reward and more frequent drug addiction.

Regarding men: doctors did not find such differences between the two groups. “We hope,” says Tanabe, “that our results will lead to further research on gender differences in drug use, and with them, to more effective addiction treatment.”

Another alcohol influence on the brain

One of the most significant alcohol effects on the brain is that it changes the level of neurotransmitters – substances that transmit impulses from neurons to muscle tissue. Hence the signs of intoxication – uncontrollable parts of the body, entangled tongue, and memory loss.

People who frequently drink alcohol begin to have problems with coordination, balance and common sense.

Neurotransmitters are responsible for processing external stimuli, emotions, and human behavior. They can either stimulate electrical activity in the brain or inhibit it.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid is one of the most important inhibitory neurotransmitters. Alcohol increases its effect, as a result of which the speech and movements of a drunk person become slowed down.

How to minimize harm from alcohol and drugs

1. Drink a lot of water because alcohol removes fluid from the body. Ideally, if a person is going to drink alcohol, he should drink 1-2 liters of water more than usual before that.

2. To eat. A full stomach slows down the absorption of alcohol, giving the body time to eliminate it gradually.

3. Do not rely on fatty food. Fats really create a protective film that prevents the absorption of alcohol by the stomach. However, an excessive amount of fatty food will do more harm than good.

4. Avoid carbonated drinks. The carbon dioxide contained in them accelerates the absorption of alcohol.

5. Take your time – have one strong drink per hour. If the goal is simply to support the company, and not to impose, this will be the best option. If you follow this rule, the body will have time to excrete alcohol.

6. Get treatment. If you have already noticed that your alcohol use got uncontrollable or you started taking drugs, look for help at best rehab facilities in Colorado. There, you can talk to professionals, choose the most comfortable treatment program, and finally change your life. It is important to understand that the key to effective drug addiction treatment is to understand what works best for you. That is why you need a professional to help you come to this understanding.

Huynh Nguyen

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