Considering the fact that New Yorkers are binge drinking themselves to death, a new study on some of the long-term effects of drinking seems quite relevant: the study found that even if drinkers have sobered up, they can probably expect to have serious balance issues for years, if not for life. Hmm, it's a tough choice: remain coordinated, or live a longer life?
Researchers at Neurobehavioral Research Inc. compared the balance abilities and gaits of diagnosed alcoholics who had been sober for several weeks, with both those who had been sober for an average of seven years, as well as people with no history of alcohol dependence. The study, which was published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research (which also published the article about drinkers outliving nondrinkers), concluded that both the newly-sober and long-term sober people performed pretty badly at the tests compared to their wholly sober brothers.
However, the study says there is a silver lining: you can always come back, even if you can't come back all the way. "There's an 80 to 90 percent recovery, but there's still some residual effects," said Dr. George Fein, principal investigator for the study. Psychiatrist Dr. Kevin P. Hill had a different takeaway however: even though there is "a point of no return where the brain cannot recover," Hill believes the study underline the importance of viewing alcohol addiction as a disease. "Just as a person with diabetes might ultimately develop loss of sensation and feeling in extremities, people with alcohol addiction might permanently lose balance and coordination," Hill said.
So, alcohol ruins our dancing abilities, gives us cancer, erases our memories, and attracts mosquitos. If only we could remember why we drank in the first place.