By L.A. Williams
Christian Action League
September 7, 2022
“I wish I’d never taken that first drink.” — It’s a common lament among alcoholics. But can a single sip of booze alter a person’s life? A new study performed in Germany says yes.
The University of Cologne’s Dr. Henrike Scholz and fellow researchers at the universities of Mannheim and Heidelberg recently analyzed brain scans of mice that had been given alcohol for the first time and found “lasting changes” in how their neurons functioned.
Titled “Single-dose Ethanol Intoxication Causes Acute and Lasting Neuronal Changes in the Brain,” the study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and provides evidence supporting the theory that even a single consumption event can “lay the foundation for alcohol addiction.”
Much research has been done on the effects of chronic alcohol consumption on the hippocampus, but Scholz and her colleagues focused on ethanol-dependent molecular changes.
“The effects of a single alcohol administration were examined at the molecular, cellular and behavioral levels,” Scholz explained.
They hypothesized that a single ethanol encounter would form a positive association with alcohol in the same way that a memory forms after a single lesson. Their tests with fruit flies and mice found ethanol-induced changes in the movement of mitochondria and in the chemical balance between certain synapses. The permanent changes were backed up by behavioral changes as their subjects showed increased alcohol consumption.
“Identifying lasting ethanol-dependent changes is an important first step in understanding how acute drinking can turn into chronic alcohol abuse,” Scholz explained.
The report of her research, featured in mainstream media late last month, comes just six weeks after a study showed that consumption of as few as three cans of beer a week is associated with higher levels of iron in the brain, which is associated with worse cognitive function.
That study, involving nearly 21,000 people, was published in the journal PLOS (Public Library of Science) Medicine.
“We found drinking greater than 7 units of alcohol weekly associated with iron accumulation in the brain. Higher brain iron in turn linked to poorer cognitive performance,” explained researcher Anya Topiwala of the University of Oxford. “Iron accumulation could underlie alcohol-related cognitive decline.”
Yet another recent alcohol study, this one published in the journal eNeuro, shows that alcohol changes the synchronized brain activity in the amygdala of mice, and causes different changes for males and females.
Alyssa DiLeo, a researcher at Tufts University Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and her team gave alcohol to mice and measured changes in the oscillatory states in their amygdala, a region of the brain associated with anxiety and sadness. They found that alcohol can trigger the amygdala to switch activity states, which may drive changes in anxious and fearful behavior, and that the alcohol-induced changes were different for males and females.
None of the findings were surprising to the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League, who has long sounded the alarm about the dangers of alcohol use and abuse and the harms addiction brings to individuals, families and the state at large, as non-drinkers must share the associated financial burden, including the costs of healthcare and law enforcement.
Rev. Creech said:
“I think that it’s amazing the way science these days is confirming what the vast majority of Protestant denominations used to argue. They encouraged abstinence from alcohol. They once took a firm stand against it. Now the science is telling us abstinence is the best way to stay safe and healthy.
“Abstinence, I believe, is the best way to approach the alcohol problem. We’ve been trying moderation for thousands of years and it’s been found wanting. Christians have a sacred responsibility to cast no stumbling block before others.
“We believe the body is a sacred gift from God. As Thomas Edison once said, ‘Putting alcohol into the body is like putting sand in wheel bearings.’ The person who abstains will never be damaged, never be drunk, never have an alcohol use disorder.
“The Scriptures say that Daniel took his stand vowing he would not defile his body with the king’s drink, and God highly honored him for it.
“First steps in life mean everything, especially when it comes to alcohol. For so many, that first sip can mean a direction is set in motion – the wrong direction down a path of regretful words and abuses – down a path of sexual immorality – down a path of crime – even something as heinous as robbery, murder, or manslaughter – down a path of slavery and addiction – down the road to hell. Need I remind people the Bible teaches that drunkards don’t go to heaven?
“Why are we so foolish to take these risks. We need to mind our first steps. Take the wrong first step in something as significant as alcohol and it may mean the beginning of the end for you or someone else you love. It’s just not worth it for something which is nothing more than an unnecessary costly and extremely problematic luxury.”
Just last week, North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement agents led a statewide operation that resulted in the arrest of 189 people on nearly 450 different charges. During the execution of four search warrants, agents and local authorities seized six firearms and 78 fake IDs as well as controlled substances. More than 250 of the charges were connected to alcohol.