Alcohol Induced Dementia

What is Alcohol Induced Dementia Long-term heavy alcohol consumption or alcohol addiction causes significant brain abnormalities and impairs cognitive functioning. A number of terms have been used to describe these effects, including: ‘alcohol-related dementia’, ‘alcohol induced dementia’, and ‘alcoholic dementia’. [1] Many individuals labeled as having alcohol-related dementia are, in fact, suffering from the Wernicke–Korsakoff […]

What is Alcohol Induced Dementia

Long-term heavy alcohol consumption or alcohol addiction causes significant brain abnormalities and impairs cognitive functioning. A number of terms have been used to describe these effects, including: ‘alcohol-related dementia’, ‘alcohol induced dementia’, and ‘alcoholic dementia’. [1]

Many individuals labeled as having alcohol-related dementia are, in fact, suffering from the Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome (WKS).

Diagnostic Criteria for ‘Substance-Induced Persisting Dementia’ are Included in DSM-IV

A. The development of multiple cognitive deficits manifested by both:

(1) Memory impairment (impaired ability to learn new information or to recall previously learned information)

(2) One (or more) of the following cognitive disturbances:

  • Aphasia (language disturbance)
  • Apraxia (impaired ability to carry out motor activities despite intact motor function)
  • Agnosia (failure to recognize or identify objects despite intact motor-sensory function)
  • Disturbance in executive functioning (i.e. planning, organization, sequencing, abstracting)
When people drink too much alcohol over many years, they may experience alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD), sometimes called alcohol induced Dementia. 

B. The cognitive deficits in criteria A1 and A2 each cause significant impairment in social or occupational functioning and represent a significant decline from a previous level of functioning.

C. The deficits do not occur exclusively during the course of a delirium and persist beyond the usual duration of substance intoxication or withdrawal

D. There is evidence from the history, physical examination, or laboratory findings that the deficits are aetiologically related to the persisting effects of substance use (e.g. a drug of abuse, a medication) [2]

What Causes Alcohol Induced Dementia

Alcohol itself does not cause Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome as much as the damage to the brain cells that takes place with a thiamine deficiency (vitamin B1). People with severe alcohol use disorders tend to have nutritional deficiencies from a poor diet.

Thiamine deficiency is common among chronic alcoholics, which is a problem because nerve cells require thiamine to function properly. A chronic lack of vitamin B1 can damage them permanently.

How Much Alcohol is Too Much Alcohol

‘High’ levels of alcohol consumption can range from 10 ‘standard’ drinks a week to more than 9 ‘standard’ drinks a day. Reduced frontal lobe volume has been associated with an amount of 418 grams a week but has not correlated with lower levels of consumption.

One review suggested that consumption of five to six drinks per day (which, by US standards, equates to 70 to 84 grams) over extended periods results in ‘cognitive inefficiencies’, while consumption of 10 or more standard drinks a day manifests as moderate cognitive deficits equivalent to that found in individuals with diagnosed alcoholism. [3]

Alcohol Induced Dementia Signs & Symptoms

The signs of alcoholic induced dementia a person exhibits may vary depending on the type of alcohol dementia they have. Some common signs of alcohol dementia include:

  • Explained changes in personality or character
  • Lying without realizing it
  • Abnormal eye movement
  • Decreased or abnormal reflexes
  • Fabricating stories
  • Memory loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulties appropriately stringing sentences or words together
  • Problems with motor movement and coordination
  • Loss of speech
  • Difficulties learning
  • Trouble with complex problem-solving
  • Getting lost on familiar paths
  • Difficulties completing simple tasks, like following a cooking recipe
  • Confusion regarding the place or time the person is in

Acute Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol usually refers to the molecule ethanol. As an amphiphile, it is rapidly absorbed from the stomach and duodenum after oral consumption and passes the blood-brain barrier. The distribution and elimination show strong variability due to fed- or fasting state, drinking patterns, age, and genetics.

In the central nervous system, ethanol modulates the function of multiple receptors: voltage-gated calcium channels and glutamate receptors are inhibited by alcohols, whereas some others, such as g-aminobutyric acid type A (GABA-A) receptors, glycine receptors, n-acetylcholine- and 5-HT3-receptors, are potentiated.

Prior hypotheses on the effect of alcohol on cell membrane function in the central nervous system are viewed as less relevant to its acute effects. The effects appear to be dose-related, since at low dosages alcohol affects monoaminergic transmission and produces disinhibition and euphoria, while at high dosages anxiolytic and sedative effects are more prominent, mediated through increasing GABA activity and inhibiting excitatory amino acids.

What are the Different Types of ARBD?

Alcohol Induced Dementia
For all alcohol-related brain damage and alcohol induced Dementia cases, avoiding alcohol intake is a cornerstone of treatment and recovery.

The Alzheimer’s Society divides alcohol-related, or alcohol-induced Dementia into two main types:

  • Alcoholic Induced Dementia: This is an often fully or partially reversible form of Dementia that may lead to poor planning and organizational skills; problems with decision-making and judgment; impulsiveness and difficulty controlling emotions; attention and reasoning problems; lack of sensitivity to the feelings of others; and socially inappropriate behavior. This form of Dementia differs from Korsakoff syndrome in that not everyone affected has day-to-day memory loss.
  • Korsakoff Syndrome: While it’s the most well-known form of ARBD, Korsakoff syndrome is much less common than other forms of ARBD, such as alcohol induced Dementia. It often develops as part of a condition known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which encompasses two stages: Wernicke encephalopathy followed by Korsakoff syndrome. A thiamine deficiency causes it.
    • Wernicke Encephalopathy: This condition often appears suddenly and needs immediate treatment. Symptoms may include confusion, balance, and movement issues; loss of coordination; vision problems like double vision, drooping eyelids, quick eye movements; a faster-than-normal heartbeat; low blood pressure when standing; a lack of energy; and fainting. If Wernicke’s encephalopathy isn’t treated quickly, it can lead to Korsakoff syndrome. Unfortunately, not everyone experiences an apparent episode of Wernicke encephalopathy before Korsakoff syndrome develops.
    • Korsakoff Syndrome: This condition tends to develop more slowly and is defined by short-term memory loss. Someone with Korsakoff syndrome might have a normal conversation and seem like themselves, only to forget the dialogue and the people involved moments later.

About Korsakoff Syndrome

Korsakoff’s syndrome is a disorder that primarily affects the memory system in the brain. It usually results from a deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1), which may be caused by alcohol abuse, dietary deficiencies, prolonged vomiting, eating disorders, or the effects of chemotherapy.

Most patients first develop a delirium, marked by confabulation, gait disorder, and problems with memory and disorientation (that is usually called a Wernicke’s encephalopathy). When this delirium clears, a profound disorder of memory remains. Patients have great difficulty learning and retaining new information as well as problems recalling memories from the recent past.

The incidence of Korsakoff’s syndrome has dropped significantly since the fortification of several foods, such as cereals and bread, with thiamine.

Alcohol Induced Dementia
Seeking help is the first step to live a life free from alcohol and not suffer from severe symptoms of alcohol induced dementia.

Is Alcohol Induced Dementia Reversible?

Unlike most other forms of dementia, this type of damage can be halted and, in many cases, reversed if a person stops drinking alcohol and replaces thiamine that has been depleted due to alcohol intake.

Individuals who have recovered from Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome were only likely to stay episode-free if they abstained from alcohol.

Alcohol Misuse & Cognitive Decline

For some people, alcohol abuse and alcoholism result from psychological or social factors. They may drink to calm down or loosen up in social settings. Others use alcohol to cope with psychological issues or stress in their daily lives.

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism may also run in families. However, genetics doesn’t guarantee a problem with alcohol. The exact causes of alcohol abuse and alcoholism are often unknown.

You shouldn’t attempt to drive or operate heavy machinery while under the effects of alcohol.

The symptoms of alcoholism include:

  • A strong desire or craving to drink
  • An inability to control cravings
  • An inability to stop drinking
  • An increased tolerance for alcohol
  • Lying about drinking
  • Attempting to drink without others knowing
  • An inability to get through everyday activities without drinking

The symptoms of alcohol abuse include:

  • Drinking to relax
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol
  • Problems with family and friends because of drinking
  • Neglecting responsibilities
  • Having legal problems because of alcohol

People who abuse alcohol may deny a problem, but there are ways to recognize alcohol abuse in others. People who abuse alcohol may drink often and experience family, work, or school problems because of drinking. However, they may downplay their drinking or lie about the amount of alcohol they consume.

Many people with alcoholism continue to drink even when they develop health problems related to drinking. Loved ones sometimes notice a problem before the person does. It’s important that the person dependent on alcohol acknowledges their problem. Unless the person acknowledges that they have a problem, treatment will not be successful as the person will not take treatment seriously and most likely will not benefit from the treatment offered.

Support for Alcohol Induced Dementia

Treatment for addiction isn’t as easy as taking a pill and waiting for the effects to kick in. Overcoming addiction requires time, energy, and commitment that has to come from within.

Most treatment programs favor a step-down process, starting with a strict and restrictive environment and gradually phasing down to help those in recovery to assimilate back into daily life.

Alcohol Induced Dementia
The importance of getting into alcohol induced dementia treatment is getting a safe and comfortable medically-assisted detox.

1). Detox: Detox is the first stage of treatment, lasting around three to seven days based on substance. In detox, users go through drug withdrawal in order to move past the physical components of addiction. For those with long-term or severe substance abuse, medications and other therapies may be used to minimize side effects.

2). Inpatient: For three to four weeks following detox, patients reside in an inpatient care facility with limited access to the outside world. During this time, patients work with counselors and other addiction professionals in individual and group settings to facilitate healing, productive coping mechanisms, and a healthy attitude toward sobriety.

We Level Up TX Inpatient Treatment for a Fresh Start

Our team at We Level Up TX Treatment Center is determined to provide a solid foundation for addiction recovery.  We help each client get a strong start at a sober life through our alcohol detox and drug detox programs, followed by inpatient treatment.  At every level of care, we incorporate medical and alternative therapies for a holistic experience.  Above all, we support the transition from active addiction to recovery from the very start of the process.  In addition, our treatment program is to help manage the detox process and reduce relapse rates across the board.

Our newly opened treatment center in Texas is guaranteed one of the best drugs and alcohol rehab centers providing custom inpatient rehab center programs to fit the needs of each individual. 

Research shows that the most effective way to help someone with alcohol induced dementia who may be at risk for developing a substance use disorder is to intervene early before the condition can progress

Therefore, contact us today to find out how to help you get started on the road to recovery.