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High cortisol levels may contribute to alcoholism, study finds

Category: General Health

Individuals who are struggling with an addiction to alcohol may want to consider cortisol testing to determine if their levels of the hormone are high. A recent study from European researchers has found that the stress hormone may play a role in alcohol dependency.

Investigators from the University of Liverpool observed that alcoholics generally exhibit elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol is normally associated with response to stressful situations. However, researchers said that chronically elevated levels may also contribute to addiction.

"Both drinking and withdrawal from alcohol can affect cortisol function in humans," said Abi Rose, who led the investigation. "Cortisol dysfunction, including the high levels of cortisol observed during alcohol withdrawal, may contribute to the high rates of relapse reported in alcohol dependence, even after many months of abstinence."

She added that the findings may enable scientists to develop drugs that target elevated cortisol levels, which may significantly reduce the chances of relapse among recovering alcoholics.

Alcoholism is marked by uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages and can affect the brain's ability to make decisions, form memories and maintain attention. It has also been shown to damage virtually every organ in the body.

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