Cortisol Levels Linked to Alcohol Dependency

By Staff Writer

Even after the going through withdrawal, many alcoholics have a difficult time abstaining from drinking, unless they seek help from addiction treatment centers. A new study has found that high levels of stress hormones may contribute to the dependency.

Researchers from the University of Liverpool observed that individuals who have alcohol dependency exhibit high brain levels of cortisol, a hormone that is associated with responses to stressful situations.

Additionally, alcoholics continue to produce excess cortisol even after they have gone through withdrawal and remain sober for extended periods of time. Abi Rose, who led the investigation, said that this may play a role in determining whether or not addicts can recover.

“Both drinking and withdrawal from alcohol can affect cortisol function in humans,” she said. “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.”

However, Rose added that drug treatments, which may be accessed at rehab facilities, may target cortisol levels in the brain, reducing the rates of relapse.