What is Alcoholic Dementia?

Dec 2019 What is Alcoholic Dementia?

Do you worry about memory loss and cognitive decline as you get older? Many people start to think about those issues as they move into midlife and beyond, but you may need to start thinking about it much earlier if you consume a lot of alcohol. This is especially true if you end up suffering from alcoholic dementia. 

What is alcoholic dementia? Well, alcoholic dementia is a medical condition that involves memory loss and impaired thinking or reasoning that is severe enough to interfere with your quality of life.

People with alcoholic dementia may act much like someone with other forms of dementia. They may struggle to recall names and remember events from the past. Their thinking process may slow to the point that they have trouble communicating their needs and desires to others. Irritability, depression, and other mood issues may even set in as they try to continue functioning in daily life.

It’s important to seek treatment from a medical professional immediately if you suspect that someone you love suffers from alcoholic dementia. He or she will need to detox from the alcohol in order to receive proper examination and testing. Yet still, there is hope for partial recovery with maintained sobriety and a healthier lifestyle.

What Is Alcoholic Dementia?

Alcoholic dementia is considered to be a neurocognitive disorder brought on by the heavy consumption of alcohol. Those suffering from it tend to have problems with their memory, learning, and overall cognitive function much in the same way that those suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia do. 

People that suffer from alcohol-induced dementia may even try to make up completely fabricated stories to fill in the gaps where their actual memory has failed them. Individuals that suffer from alcoholic dementia tend to be people who did not treat their alcohol addiction or abuse soon enough. 

What Causes Alcoholic Dementia?

Damage to the brain due to years of excessive alcohol consumption causes alcoholic dementia. Alcohol-induced dementia is also associated with low thiamine levels. While the symptoms of alcoholic dementia are similar to Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia, this alcohol-induced version often sets in at a much younger age.

While research into alcoholic dementia is ongoing, it isn’t a list of specific criteria that might lead to its development. For instance, it’s unknown how much alcohol a person might need to consume to damage the brain and trigger dementia symptoms. Those who consume alcohol regularly have different lifestyles, and there are many factors that could contribute to their development of cognitive impairment.

Is Alcoholic Dementia Permanent?

While alcoholic dementia that occurs naturally with age is permanent, there is the hope of recovering at least partially from alcoholic dementia. Working with an alcohol addiction rehab center in Palm Springs, California can put you on the fast track to recovery when suffering from alcoholic dementia. 

Individuals in recovery from alcoholic dementia need to abstain from all alcohol consumption. They also need to consume a nourishing diet and support their bodies with thiamine supplements and high-quality vitamins.

Think of it as nourishing the brain and making up for those years of nutritional deprivation. There is no guarantee that you will reverse all the damage that’s been done to your brain, but many patients do experience some level of relief from the disorder with long-term abstinence from alcohol.

What Are Some of the Signs and Symptoms of Alcoholic Dementia?

Since the only way to try and reverse some of the memory loss issues associated with alcoholic dementia is to get treatment for alcohol abuse, being able to identify that you or someone you know has alcoholic dementia as quickly as possible is crucial. That’s why it’s so important to know some of the potential warning signs of alcoholic dementia.

Some common warning signs of alcoholic dementia include:

  • Difficulty navigating even if it’s a familiar area
  • Having trouble solving problems
  • Unexplained changes in personality
  • Cognitive issues
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Trouble communicating
  • Poor decision-making
  • Difficulty planning
  • Changes in motor functions
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Inappropriate behavior
  • Agitation
  • Hallucinations
  • Muscle weakness
  • Abnormal eye movement

How Are Alcohol Dementia and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome Related?

Alcoholic dementia and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome are both forms of alcohol-induced brain damage. Also, low thiamine levels contribute to both disorders. The difference between alcoholic dementia and Wernicke-Korsakoff is in the cause and the speed of onset.

Alcohol-related dementia sets in gradually over time as the brain becomes more and more damaged. Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome on the other hand can occur quickly and often sets in during or right after rapid alcohol detox. People are much less likely to develop the syndrome if they seek medical attention and detox with professional guidance and supervision. 

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome starts with an episode of Wernicke’s encephalopathy, which presents the following symptoms:

  • Memory loss
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Weight loss due to malnutrition
  • Eye muscle jerks or paralysis
  • Lack of balance

When the encephalopathy isn’t treated immediately and properly, it will turn into Korsakoff’s Syndrome. Korsakoff’s syndrome involves permanent brain damage that isn’t likely to reverse even if you stay sober for years. The good news is that recovery from the encephalopathy episode is possible with the right medical care.

How Do I Know If I Have Alcoholic Dementia?

There are many different types of medical tests available that can help determine if someone has alcoholic dementia. Most of these tests focus on examining a person’s muscular and nervous systems. Many of these tests will also include drawing blood in order to test the person’s nutrition and vitamin levels. Some of these tests might even include liver enzyme testing. 

alcoholic dementia infographic

Are There Treatment Options For Alcohol-Induced Dementia?

As we have mentioned above, the earlier you can catch alcoholic dementia, the better your chances are of reversing at least some of the symptoms and damage associated with it. Seeking help and entering into a treatment program to address any alcohol abuse or addiction issues can go a long way in helping to reverse some of the dementia symptoms. 

Steps in Treatment for Alcohol-Induced Dementia

The first step in the alcohol abuse treatment process is to detox your body and mind from alcohol or any other harmful substances currently in it. Detox should be done under the care and supervision of trained medical professionals due to the withdrawal symptoms associated with it. This can be done at either a local medical facility, a dedicated detox center, or a treatment facility that also provides detox services such as Phoenix Rising. Attempting to self-detox can be incredibly dangerous and even life-threatening. 

The next step in alcohol abuse treatment is to enter into a rehab program that addresses your alcohol issues. In such a rehab program you will meet with a treatment professional who will discuss treatment options with you. The treatment professional will also create an individualized treatment plan for you that works best for you and your needs. 

In addition to the addiction therapies and meetings that one will attend while in alcohol addiction treatment, individuals with alcoholic dementia will need to focus on raising their thiamine levels. One can raise his or her thiamine levels with a B1 intake. Raising your B1 levels can help improve memory loss if addressed early enough before Korsakoff psychosis has set in.

Even if memory loss can’t be reversed, entering into alcohol addiction treatment can help prevent the core issue of one’s alcoholic dementia from worsening. Alcohol addiction treatment can also teach individuals how to live sober lives without the need for drugs and/or alcohol.  

Do You Suffer From Alcoholic Dementia?

The Phoenix Rising alcohol detox center provides a safe place for anyone ready to move beyond their years of alcohol misuse. Here at Phoenix Rising Recovery, we have the treatment programs that you need to move from excessive alcohol consumption to complete renewal in mind, body, and spirit. 

The most important thing when recovering from alcoholic dementia is to seek professional care. That way you don’t detox rapidly and put your brain at risk of thiamine deficiency and crippling damage. Thus, receiving professional alcohol addiction treatment here at Phoenix Rising Recovery could be the best decision that you ever make as someone with alcoholic dementia.  In addition to our traditional treatment methods here at Phoenix Rising Recovery, we also provide a wide variety of alternative, holistic, and experiential therapies. 

These alternative, holistic, and experiential therapies include: 

Don’t allow alcohol to deter you from achieving your biggest goals in life. You can overcome your use of alcohol with the guidance of our well-trained, compassionate professionals here at Phoenix Rising Recovery. 

Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options, including treatment for alcohol-induced dementia. We want to give everyone that comes to us the tools to go on and live happy, healthy, and sober lives.