Alcohol and the Adult Brain  book cover
1st Edition

Alcohol and the Adult Brain

ISBN 9781848723085
Published December 17, 2014 by Psychology Press
236 Pages 5 Color & 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The research literature on the impact of alcohol on the brain has seen a rapid expansion in recent years. Alcohol and the Adult Brain presents an up-to-date overview of some of the issues relevant to understanding and working with people with cognitive impairment as a result of chronic alcohol use.

One issue causing barriers to effective treatment and care is the stigma associated with alcohol dependence, resulting in the belief that difficulties associated with alcohol related brain damage (ARBD) are ‘self-inflicted’. Cognitive changes resulting from alcohol excess and poor nutrition can directly affect an individual’s ability to motivate themselves, make decisions, and make the informed choices that underlie behaviour change. Attitudes held by professionals, reinforced by societal norms, that a person is ‘choosing to drink’ and ‘not motivated to engage with treatment’, in combination with the often subtle cognitive deficits associated with ARBD, can result in a lack of timely intervention, with enormous personal, social and economic cost.

The chapters in this book set ARBD in a social and cultural context, provide discussion of the difficulties in definition and diagnosis, and outline the structural brain changes and neuropsychological deficits associated with chronic alcohol use. The book provides an overview of recent research on ARBD, including impairments associated with Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, and discusses up to date recommendations for managing and working with this complex and varied disorder.

Alcohol and the Adult Brain will be essential for students and researchers working with ARBD and for practitioners in a range of health, social care and voluntary settings.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction, Jenny Svanberg and Adrienne Withall  2. Alcohol-related dementia and brain damage: a focus on epidemiology, Nicole Ridley and Brian Draper  3. Cultural considerations, Carly Johnco and Brian Draper  4. Comorbidity and complexity in chronic alcohol misuse, Apo Demirkol and Nicholas Lintzeris  5. Considerations with older adults, Samaneh Shafiee and Adrienne Withall  6. Alcohol related brain damage and neuropathology, Lisa Savage  7. Alcohol-related dysfunction of cognitive networks in alcohol dependence, Hélène Beaunieux, Francis Eustache and Anne-Lise Pitel  8. Wernicke’s Encephalopthy and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, Simon Scalzo, Stephen Bowden & Matti Hillbom  9. Alcohol, ageing and cognitive function: a nutritional perspective, Adrian B. Bonner  10. Neuropsychological assessment and differential diagnosis of alcohol related cognitive impairment, Jenny Svanberg, Fraser Morrison and Breda Cullen  11. The clinical rehabilitation of people with alcohol related brain damage, Ken Wilson  12. Ethical issues associated with alcohol-related cognitive impairment, Chris Perkins and John Hopkins

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Jenny Svanberg is the Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Forth Valley Substance Misuse Service, Scotland, UK, and was previously Principal Clinical Psychologist at the ARBD Service, Glasgow, UK.

Adrienne Withall is a Senior Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine within the University of New South Wales and a clinician within Aged Care Psychiatry at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, Australia.

Brian Draper is a Professor (Conjoint) at the School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Sydney, and the Director of the Academic Department for Old Age Psychiatry at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, Australia.

Stephen Bowden is a Professor in the School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, and Consultant Neuropsychologist at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.


‘An impressive and timely overview of the growing health problem of alcohol and the brain. The book is well illustrated and comprehensive in its coverage. A definite and significant contribution to the field that will provide a firm foundation for future research.’ – David J. Nutt, Centre for Neuropsychopharmacology, Imperial College London, UK

'Jenny Svanberg and her colleagues have admirably pulled togeter a range of experts to weave the diffuse literature into a coherent whole that reconciles complex neurobiology with sophisticated neuropsychology and a range of cultural and ethical issues. [...] I was impressed to see the potential relationship of culture to the development of alcohol-related brain damage highlighted in the book. [...] The authors highlight the complex interactions between physiological and psychological factors considered within the context of the dominant social milieu. It is also extremely laudable in an edited volume of this length that adequate scope is given to the ethical issues in considering the individual with alcohol-related brain damage, the use of vignettes being a particularly powerful medium in which to convey topics related to provision of care, mental capacity, and the legal system.

In summary, this volume represents an excellent "one-stop" shop for the interested reader clinician, and research to avail themselves of the contemporary issues associated with the impact of alcohol on the adult brain. The book offers an excellent insight, firmly rooted in the evidences, and it represents an accessibhle read for the nonspecialist and a valuable refresher summary for the specialist looking for an update of key issues. Finally, there is no doubt, after reading this excellent volume, that in a societal-wide context, alcohol represents the most dangerous drug.' -Colin R. Martin, PsycCRITIQUES, October 2015