Alcohol-related dementia is a form of dementia characterized by alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD). This type of dementia is caused by heavy drinking and uncontrolled alcohol consumption.
Alcohol use disorders and excessive drinking can lead to someone developing alcohol-related dementia. Substance use in this manner may also cause health problems that can make you more at risk of developing alcohol-related dementia.
Causes Of Alcohol-Related Dementia
Alcohol abuse can destroy brain cells and lead to brain damage. This type of substance abuse may impact brain function, causing alcohol-related dementia. However, there are various ways in which a person may develop alcohol-induced dementia.
Those who participate in excessive drinking are at a greater risk of developing severe effects of alcohol. These effects may include:
- impaired judgment
- upset stomach
- distorted vision
Drinking alcohol in excess, no matter the type of alcohol, can cause harm to your body physically and mentally. There are various types of problematic drinking such as binge drinking, which can cause permanent damage to brain function over time.
Those who imbibe large quantities of alcohol may develop a weakened immune system. A weakened immune system can cause a vitamin B1 thiamine deficiency.
These nutritional deficiencies impact important parts of the brain and can lead to cognitive decline. To regain thiamine, your doctor may suggest a supplement as part of treatment.
While alcohol may cause damage to our bodies internally, other injuries can be caused by alcohol. For instance, due to impaired judgment, a person may experience blackouts, falls or drownings, leading to a head injury or problems with brain function. It’s also possible for homicide, suicide, and motor vehicle accidents to occur.
Any number of these incidents may lead to a brain injury. A person who has repeated head injuries can be more susceptible to developing dementia, especially if the person engages in substance abuse in the form of alcohol.
Symptoms Of Alcohol-Related Dementia
To rule out other health issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy Body dementia, or vascular dementia, doctors may want to know your family history. It’s likely your healthcare provider will also want to know your own personal history with alcohol and how frequently you drink.
A person suffering from alcohol-related dementia may experience a number of issues such as:
- memory problems
- blood pressure fluctuations
- trouble with balance
- difficulty concentrating
- struggling with day-to-day tasks
- mood changes
In addition to the above-mentioned common symptoms of alcohol-related dementia, issues with cognitive function can be quite serious. Some of the problems that may develop include the loss of short-term memory as well as damage to parts of the brain.
Early-onset dementia can also be caused by long-term alcohol misuse, but there are underlying factors likely at play as well.
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS)
The beginning stage of WKS is Wernicke Encephalopathy (WE), an acute reaction to a lack of thiamine. If left untreated, Korsakoff’s psychosis may occur, causing WKS to develop.
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is linked with low levels of vitamin B1 and considered part of the broader forms of dementia. When dangerous drinking habits cause a weakened immune system, cells are damaged and the nutrients your body needs are destroyed.
A person struggling with WKS may experience confabulation, memory loss, and abnormal eye movements.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are a major part of alcohol-induced dementia. Those who are abusing alcohol, especially in large quantities, may suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms. A person may experience several symptoms when it comes to alcohol withdrawal such as:
Alcohol Treatment Options
If you or a loved one live with an alcohol addiction, consider enrolling in one of the programs at Northeast Addictions Treatment Center. At our treatment center, we provide a variety of services such as:
To learn more about how we can help you, your friends, or your family members, please contact us today.
- BMC: Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy — Alcohol Use and Dementia: A Systematic Scoping Review
- The BMJ — Alcohol consumption and risk of dementia: 23 year follow-up of Whitehall II cohort study
- Dove Medical Press: Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment — Alcohol and Dementia: What’s the Link? A Systematic Review
- International Journal of High Risk Behaviors and Addiction — Alcohol-Related Dementia and Neurocognitive Impairment: A Review Study
- JAMA Network — Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Dementia and Cognitive Decline Among Older Adults With or Without Mild Cognitive Impairment
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
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