Type the word “sober” into a search engine such as Google and get a definition like this: “not affected by alcohol; not drunk.” Look to a more official source, like dictionary.com and you’ll get a range of definitions including:
“Not intoxicated or drunk”
“Habitually temperate, especially in use of liquor”
“Quiet or sedate in demeanor, as persons”
“Marked by seriousness, gravity solemnity, etc;”
“Free from excess, extravagance, or exaggeration”
“Sane or rational”
A study published in 2015 in Addiction Biology determined using MRI scans that people recovering from alcoholism and abstaining from alcohol showed progress in the regeneration of parts of their brain. Patients were tested after they became alcohol free, with follow up tests in one week, one month and seven and a half months.
Researchers were able to identify that those who abstained from drinking received significant growth in the volume of several key brain regions – including the frontal lobe and cerebellum.
At one and a half weeks, patients showed “significant volume increases in frontal, parietal and occipital gray matter and white matter, total cortical grey matter and total lobar white matter, thalamus and cerebellum.” These volume increases were notably greater within the first one week to one month, rather than the one month to seven and a half months. However overall, there was a non-linear increase in grey and white matter. Interestingly, non-smokers showed an increase in the improvement of processing speed as their white and grey matter increased.
Without delving too deeply into the neuroscience of sobriety, one thing is certain: when alcoholics stop drinking, they cease the process of regularly killing off millions of brain cells on a daily basis, which is what alcohol does. This can only be beneficial to their mental and physical health.
Are you finding it hard to stay sober? If you are struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction, or another issue which is causing you difficulty in your mental health, you are not alone.
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Last updated on clinically assessed 26 March, 2021