Former alcoholics may have damage to an area of the brain involved in impulsive decision making.
In a new study 9 recovering alcoholics were compared to 10 people who never abused alcohol.
They were all asked whether they would take 18 dollars now or 20 dollars next month. The alcoholics chose the "now" reward three times more often.
Certain parts of their brain were more active during that decision process -- all areas that have been linked to impaired judgment.
People with low levels of a gene called COMT also had active reading scores in the area of the brain linked to impaired judgment.
This gene is associated with low dopamine levels, so boosting dopamine may be an effective treatment.