OGDEN — Millions of brain connections and pathways involving thinking, behavior and physiological responses that exist exclusively to support alcoholic drinking have been developed by the time a person becomes an alcoholic.
The tendency to drink alcoholically is hardwired in the brain of an alcoholic, said Dr. Dennis Ahern, a psychologist with Intermountain Healthcare. Once those pathways are established, they do not go away, despite years of not drinking. They may become fairly inactive, but they do not disappear.
“Once activated, they work as they always did. If drinking alcohol has progressed to the point of meeting the criteria of addiction ... the alcoholic has a loaded gun in his head and any drinking or use of other drugs is the same as putting a finger on a hair trigger and moving it around,” Ahern said.