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Alcohol dementia is a type of brain damage caused by long-term alcohol abuse. Dementia is a broad term that refers to a set of symptoms including memory loss, problem-solving, and reasoning skills.

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol dementia or alcohol abuse, reach out for help today.

Symptoms of Alcohol Dementia

The symptoms of dementia are the same regardless of the cause. There’s a misconception that the loss of thinking skills that characterize dementia is a normal part of aging. However, alcohol dementia goes beyond the cognitive decline that is often seen as an individual ages. Dementia can affect:

  • Memory
  • Focus
  • Communication
  • Problem solving and reasoning
  • Judgment

When someone has alcohol dementia, they are no longer able to function normally in these areas.

This condition can cause them to:

  • Lose the motivation to perform basic activities like eating and bathing
  • Be unable to manage time or get easily distracted
  • Not remember names of familiar friends or family members
  • Be unable to recognize and understand other’s emotions
  • Make poor or dangerous decisions
  • Be unable to plan activities or solve simple problems

Alcohol dementia is also related to other mental health conditions. They may suffer from anxiety disorders, depression, sleep disturbances, and difficulty regulating behavior. In advanced dementia, the person may become dangerously aggressive, make inappropriate sexual advances, or be unable to control their bladder.

What Causes Alcohol Dementia?

Alcohol dementia can be caused by Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This begins with Wernicke syndrome, which causes abnormal eye movements, loss of balance and coordination, and confusion.

Left untreated, Wernicke syndrome can lead to Korsakoff syndrome. This causes significant impairment in short term memory. The syndrome leaves some parts of thinking intact. The person may be able to play chess, for example, but not remember what they had for lunch. Many people with this syndrome will create detailed lies to attempt to hide gaps in their memory or cognitive ability.

This type of dementia isn’t a result of alcohol use alone. Instead, it is caused by a thiamine deficiency which is common in heavy drinkers.

The other type of alcohol dementia is directly related to alcohol abuse. Alcohol reduces the amount of white matter in the brain, especially in the frontal lobe. This means the brain can’t function and send signals properly. This type of dementia causes problems with judgment, planning, and reasoning.

Does Moderate Alcohol Use Increase Risk of Dementia?

The jury is still out on moderate alcohol use, but heavy drinking has been shown to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s and all types of dementia. Heavy alcohol use is considered more than 14 units per week for women and more than 21 units for men. One shot of liquor, one beer, or one small glass of wine can be considered one unit.

Binge drinking can also increase your risk. Generally, men consuming five or more drinks and women consuming four or more drinks in two hours will result in a high blood alcohol level.

Can Alcoholism Treatment Reverse Alcohol Dementia?

Alcoholism treatment can help reverse some effects of alcohol dementia. General alcohol dementia often improves when the person remains sober. If they begin drinking, symptoms may quickly return. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome can be prevented or lessened if thiamine treatment begins before the onset of memory loss. In both types, early treatment gives the best chance of preventing or recovering from this type of dementia.

Alcoholism Treatment at Serenity Light Recovery

If you need alcoholism treatment in Angleton, Texas, contact us at Serenity Light Recovery. In addition to alcohol rehab, we provide dual diagnosis treatment. If you or a loved one has alcohol dementia or other mental health issues, we can treat mental health issues alongside addiction. Contact our team today at 855.658.6109 to begin your journey to recovery.