Sober living

Can Severe Alcoholism Cause Dementia? Alcohol-Related Brain Damage

The brain damage caused by alcohol abuse may not be entirely reversible, but symptoms improve significantly with abstinence and medical treatment. The current DSM-IV criteria for ‘alcohol-induced persisting dementia’ specify the persistence of cognitive and functional decline following cessation of alcohol consumption, with all other causes of dementia excluded .

1 in 3 Older Americans Have Cognitive Impairment or Dementia – WebMD

1 in 3 Older Americans Have Cognitive Impairment or Dementia.

Posted: Tue, 25 Oct 2022 07:00:00 GMT [source]

Cognitive Impairment affects verbal skills, mental processing, memory, learning, and impulse control. The areas of the brain related to problem-solving and impulse control are often damaged the most.

Early Stage Alcohol-Related Dementia

Maybe people who abstain from alcohol learn to relax in different ways. They may prefer to watch television, eat ice cream with potato chips, smoke cigarettes and rely on sleeping pills. We are ready to support you with our professional, caring team. We are ready to cheer you on as you continue down the road of recovery toward a healthier, happier you.

Adding the struggles of alcohol-related dementia means family support is even more important. As anyone who’s ever had to interact with a loved one with dementia knows, these difficulties can change someone you’ve known your whole life into a person you no longer recognize.

Clinical considerations

Alcohol can damage the brain directly as a neurotoxin, or it can damage it indirectly by causing malnutrition, primarily a loss of thiamine . Alcohol use disorder is common in older persons, and alcohol-related dementia is under-diagnosed.

can alcoholism cause dementia

The results are reported in the April 4 issue of the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. In addition, you want to be sure you’re eating a nutritious diet that will support your brain function. Consider attending a support group for sobriety such has Alcoholics Anonymous . Going to meetings can hold you accountable for quitting drinking and improving your health.


It’s characterized by eye movement problems, discoordination and confusion. If Wernicke’s encephalopathy is not reversed, it leads to a more permanent condition called Korsakoff syndrome. People in this stage need help with tasks like eating and bathing. They may believe that they are at an earlier stage in their life. Behaviors can can alcoholism cause dementia be unpredictable and uninhibited, and communication is difficult and could become impossible. The early stages of any form of dementia tend to be subtle and difficult to notice. People are generally able to live independently during theearly stages of dementia, but subtle memory problems, such as losing items frequently, may occur.

Can alcoholics develop dementia?

Alcohol consumption in excess has well-documented negative effects on both short- and long-term health, one of which is brain damage that can lead to Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia.

Its symptoms are almost identical to the dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease and may include memory loss, impaired judgment, difficulties in speaking and an inability to perform routine tasks. Alcohol-related dementia can occur in drinkers as young as age thirty. Alcohol-related dementia ultimately describes any dementia-type illness that is caused by alcohol use. Alcohol can have a toxic effect on the brain, affecting normal function. Alcohol can also affect how vitamin B1, or thiamine, is absorbed. Thiamine is essential for brain health and a thiamine deficiency can lead to permanent brain damage. Alcohol-related dementia — sometimes called alcohol-induced dementia, alcohol dementia, or ARD — is a type of cognitive decline directly linked to excessive, long-term alcohol consumption.

What is Dementia?

Most presentations of alcohol dementia are somewhere along the spectrum between a global dementia and Korsakoff’s psychosis, and may include symptoms of both. If it’s caught early enough, alcohol-related dementia is a reversible form of dementia that you can potentially cure with abstinence.

  • Those who develop ARD are at risk for many health complications, including liver damage or cirrhosis, pancreatitis, and mouth and throat cancers.
  • Here’s what you need to know about the risk, and how to reduce it.
  • A proxy’s report is unlikely to correspond perfectly with the information that the study respondent would have provided.
  • Subsequent case-control (Wang et al. 1997) and cross-sectional studies (Callahan et al. 1996) also have failed to provide evidence of an association between alcohol use and AD.
  • Difficulties are most frequently detected on tasks assessing higher-order organization, planning, and cognitive flexibility .

By the waybthis study was done by far more educatedxand learned people than you… A total of 24,478 individuals were included in the current study, with a mean age of 71.8 years at baseline. Among these, 58.3% were females, and 54.2% were current drinkers. An individual will have incomplete memories about what happened during a drinking episode. The memory loss is usually temporary and some memory of events may be restored after discussion with others who were present during the events. If alcohol-related dementia is due to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, thiamine may be given to help reduce the condition’s effects or completely reverse it in its early stages.

Although there remains a lack of effective treatments for dementia, certain behaviors have been shown to increase the risk of its development. In fact, according to the 2020 Lancet Commission for Dementia Prevention, Intervention, and Care, up to 40% of dementia cases could be prevented or delayed if 12 distinct risk factors were avoided. Research shows that excessive drinking destroys brain tissue and can lead to several types of memory loss. While long-term memories may retain intact, the brain’s ability to form new memories is seriously impaired. Alcohol abuse can inflict serious damage on the body, including liver disease, heart problems and cancer.

Does memory come back after quitting drinking?

Quitting Alcohol

The brain does not return to its usual state for a long time after a person stops drinking. Attention, memory, and reaction time start to return but are not at normal speeds for quite some time. A hangover, for instance, may have serious consequences for a person's performance at work.

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