A new study conducted by scientists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has revealed that a particular hormone in the body could make some people more susceptible to alcoholism. Aldosterone is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands that may contribute to alcohol abuse and addiction. This study reveals that alcoholism may be linked to higher aldosterone levels in the body. This groundbreaking research may help to improve treatment for people who struggle with alcohol use disorders (AUD).
The scientists revealed that the reason for this study stemmed from their previous investigative works, which led to the discovery of a possible link between aldosterone and alcohol addiction. They hypothesized that aldosterone has a direct impact on alcohol abuse by affecting the areas of the brain associated with alcoholism triggers.
Aldosterone helps to regulate blood pressure and balance electrolytes in the body by binding to mineralocorticoid receptors (MRs) throughout the body. MRs in the brain are located mainly in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex – two important areas of the brain linked to the development of alcohol addiction.
The amygdala is responsible for controlling levels of stress and anxiety, as well as excessive drinking. When this part of the brain is affected, it can cause negative emotions, and an increase in anxiety and feelings of stress. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for controlling one’s actions, impulses and emotions – so when this part of the brain is negatively affected, the person loses that ability to control themselves.
Leggio led the study with a team of scientists who tested the effects of alcohol on several species – monkeys, rats and humans – in order to determine if there exists a link between alcohol use disorder and the aldosterone/MR pathways.
The study on monkeys revealed that the animals which self-administered alcohol on a daily basis for six months to a year had significantly higher aldosterone levels, compared to when they began consuming alcohol.
In the human study, about 40 individuals who were undergoing treatment for an alcohol use disorder were monitored daily for 12 weeks. Some of the people gave up drinking for the 12 weeks, while others continued to drink alcohol. Researchers found that the concentration of aldosterone in the blood was much higher in the test subject who continued drinking during the 12-week period compared to those who quit. The more alcohol they consumed, the higher their aldosterone levels were. Researchers also found that these high levels of aldosterone led to more alcohol cravings and feelings of anxiety.
These results of the human study were supported by the findings of the animal studies. Therefore, the data collected from all three studies supports the hypothesis that the adolsterone and MR pathway relationship has a tremendous effect on alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
Addiction is a relapsing brain disease that can only be treated through professional and therapeutic intervention. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcoholism, the admissions specialists at Get Treatment can help you find an alcohol rehab program that meets your needs for recovery. For more information, dial 855-638-9268 today.