Memory Care: An Overview of Alcohol Consumption and Dementia

Excessive drinking is known to cause a lot of damage to our overall health. In the long-term, it might result in brain damage—this brain damage further results in dementia. Dementia caused due to excessive drinking is known as ARD or Alcohol-related Dementia.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a kind of brain disorder. The person who has dementia shows symptoms like the decline in memory, thinking and decision-making skills, language, and problem-solving skills. In extreme cases, a person who has dementia suffers from a complete memory loss and might not be able to perform basic daily chores like changing clothes, bathing, etc.

Alzheimer’s is a kind of dementia. Acute Alzheimer’s patients need lots of care and attention. To help such patients, numerous “Alzheimer’s care facilities for seniors” and “senior assisted living homes and facilities” are available all around the world.

Alcohol and Dementia Connection

Studies have shown that over a period of time, excessive drinking can cause brain damage. In addition to this, excessive alcohol intake tends to increase the chances of developing dementia. However, till now, researchers could not link moderate drinking to brain damage. Excessive drinking is particularly dangerous to older adults who are already at a higher risk of developing dementia. There are even assisted living facilities for seniors with alcohol abuse history that assist seniors who are heavy drinkers with minimizing additional risks of developing dementia.

Alcohol and Effects on the Brain

Regular high consumption of alcohol over time damages neurons. The reason behind is the toxic nature of alcohol. Heavy alcohol consumption also results in shrinkage of brain tissues and white matter. This white matter plays a vital role in transmitting signals from one part of the brain to another. Over an extended period, it hampers the normal functioning of the brain.

Thiamine or Vitamin B1 helps in providing energy to our body. As brain cells and neurons have a high consumption of energy, so Thiamine is very important for their proper functioning. Another way in which alcohol hampers the brain function is by causing Vitamin B1 deficiency in the body. This happens as alcoholic people tend to overlook their nutrient intake—poor diet results in B1 deficiency. In addition to this, alcohol tends to interfere with our body’s mechanism of handling and storing vitamins. A chronic deficiency of Vitamin B1 can damage the brain cells permanently.

Besides this, alcoholic people are more prone to getting into fights with other people and fall. In both scenarios, the chances of getting a head injury is very high. These head injuries may hamper the proper functioning of the brain.

Heavy drinking results in high cholesterol and blood pressure. Excessive drinking also increases the risk of getting a heart attack. All of these may further result in brain disorder.

Alcoholic Dementia Signs

Alcoholic dementia results in impaired judgment, planning, and thinking. Besides this, alcohol-related dementia might also result in Wernicke-Kosakoff Syndrome. This further includes two different brain conditions.

Wernicke encephalopathy: it is caused because of a high deficiency of Vitamin B1. Well, it is regarded as an emergency condition that needs immediate medical attention.
Kosakoff Syndrome: It is caused due to prolonged Vitamin B1 deficiency. In this, the patient suffers from a permanent memory loss. Well, I was already detoxified when they prescribed me Revia at That’s been probably the most relieving thing in my life – to not be craving for drugs. I’ve never reused those horrible substances. I’m so lucky to live in an era with access to such powerful life-saving medications!

Symptoms of Wernicke-Kosakoff Syndrome

An individual having WKS would keep on asking the same questions or would keep telling the same thing again and again. They would not have any realization about what they are doing.
On the other hand, the same person would be in total possession of his/her faculties, make witty remarks, play mental games like chess, etc., able to draw correct conclusions and would be good at reasoning.

Alcoholic Dementia Treatment

Like any other dementia condition, early treatment is highly recommended to get effective results. If deducted at an initial stage, patients suffering from alcohol dementia tend to show remarkable improvement just by simply quitting drinking and taking a healthy diet.

If a patient is suffering from Wernicke encephalopathy, then a treatment involving the intake of Thiamine would help prevent or lower the development of Kosakoff Syndrome.
However, Vitamin B1 treatment hardly shows any improvement in improving the memory loss condition.

Quitting alcohol and eating a nutrient-rich diet have found to be very effective in preventing further brain damage. When the damage is irreparable, a memory care facility may need to be considered.

Sinclair Method

A Sinclair Method is an effective way of treating problematic drinking. In this treatment, the addict is allowed to continue drinking at the initial stages. The sufferer continues his/her alcohol drinking along with a prescribed medicine-Naltrexone.

Naltrexone is taken before drinking. Once taken, it stops the release of endorphins in the brain. As a result, the drinker would not feel any “buzz”. Over time, this lack of pleasurable experience reduces your urge for drinking.

Alcohol-Related Dementia Side Effects

Side effects of ARD are:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unsteadiness
  • Disorientation
  • Extreme confusion
  • Muscle Jerk
  • Inability to move eyes

As discussed earlier, Wernicke encephalopathy needs immediate treatment. Any ignorance on your part may result in a coma and, in severe cases, even death.

Symptoms of Kosakoff Syndrome:

  • Long-term memory gaps
  • Difficulty learning new things
  • Trouble in remembering current events.

Other symptoms of alcohol dementia are:

  • Impulsive behavior
  • Slowed reasoning
  • Inability to concentrate
  • The trouble in controlling emotions
  • The trouble with judgment, planning, decision making and organization

The Bottom Line

If you are facing difficulties due to excessive intake of alcohol, contact your doctor immediately. The earlier the treatment starts, the better it will be.