Judge Dale Wells, in a custody trial in the infamous Department 2J, ruled that Alcohol is not a drug. The National Instiute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has a substantially different perspectivie citing the following:
“Results of autopsy studies show that patients with a history of chronic alcohol consumption have smaller, lighter, more shrunken brains than nonalcoholic adults of the same age and gender (1). This finding has been repeatedly confirmed in living alcoholics using structural imaging techniques, such as computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Structural imaging reveals a consistent association between heavy drinking and physical brain damage, even in the absence of medical conditions previously considered to be clinical indicators of severe alcoholism (e.g., chronic liver disease or alcohol-induced dementia).
Imaging reveals shrinkage to be more extensive in the folded outer layer (i.e., cortex) of the frontal lobe (2), which is believed to be the seat of higher intellectual functions. In men, vulnerability to frontal lobe shrinkage increases with age (2-4). Current studies will determine if the same effect occurs in women. Repeated imaging of a group of alcoholics who continued drinking over a 5-year period showed progressive brain shrinkage that significantly exceeded normal age-related shrinkage (5). The rate of frontal cortex shrinkage in this study correlated approximately with the amount of alcohol consumed (5).
Shrinkage also occurs in deeper brain regions, including brain structures associated with memory (6-8), as well as in the cerebellum, which helps regulate coordination and balance (9). Limited research suggests that women may be more susceptible than men to alcohol-related brain shrinkage (10,11).
The detection of structural brain damage is complemented by results of functional imaging techniques, such as positron emission tomography (PET) and single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT). By measuring local changes in blood flow and energy metabolism, PET and SPECT can help identify brain regions involved in specific sensory, motor, or cognitive functions. Such studies consistently reveal decreased blood flow and metabolic rates in certain brain regions of heavy drinkers compared with those of nonalcoholics (12,13), even in the absence of measurable shrinkage (14). Structural and functional defects revealed by magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and PET may reflect a decrease in the number (15) or size (16,17) of neurons or a reduction in the density of communication sites between adjacent neurons (16,17).
A recent 2012 brain imaging study, from the University of California, specified that Alcohol is just as addictive as any other drug, and traced the pathway of alcohol addiction and release of endorphins to certain structural areas in the brain.