Alcohol has always been a constant part of your life. You liked to have a drink or two after a stressful day. There were often beers in the fridge that you’d enjoy alongside dinner or while watching whatever was on TV that night. It was never really a problem. It didn’t impact your work or your relationships, it was just always there. It helped you feel better.
But one day, you noticed a change in your day-to-day capabilities. You honestly hadn’t picked up on it at first until it started to become more frequent. You found that you often lost your train of thought, forgetting what you were doing. Sometimes it felt like you would blink and suddenly be in a different part of the house with little memory of how you got there. It was hard to focus at work, you just felt like you couldn’t problem-solve like you used to and you got distracted easily to boot.
You ended up talking with your partner and they suggested that you speak with a doctor about it. During your appointment, after voicing your concerns and answering some questions, you were surprised when your doctor asked about your drinking habits. That’s when you learned about alcoholic dementia and how it could be impacting you.
Alcohol has a way of slowly changing things within your body and mind the longer your history with it. Many lesser-known conditions can arise from long-term alcohol use. Here at San Antonio Recovery Center, we have seen our patients manage memory issues from their drinking, and we have helped them heal from it. With nearly 40% of grade school students in Texas reporting past-year alcohol use, we know how prevalent this topic is to our community. With a 1:8 therapist-to-patient ratio, we’re passionate about helping those who need it. We want people to be able to make informed decisions about their health and better spot when side effects are impacting their lives. Today we’re looking at alcoholic dementia, how it happens, and what can be done to address it.
Alcohol has a way of slowly causing lasting damage to various organs throughout the body. The most prominent organs that are impacted by long-term alcohol use are the liver and the brain. One such type of condition that someone might develop from alcohol use is alcohol-related brain damage. Alcoholic dementia falls under the category of alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD).
As the name implies, alcoholic dementia is when a person starts to display symptoms commonly associated with dementia, but they’re caused by the damage done to the brain from a history of alcohol consumption.
Since alcoholic dementia develops over a long period, other signs of long-term alcohol use might pop up before you start experiencing alcoholic dementia. If you begin to suspect that your alcohol use is impacting your health, it’s not too late to get help. Many alcohol-related conditions can be addressed and even reversed when given proper time and treatment.
Oftentimes the symptoms of an alcohol use disorder aren’t physical. This includes being negatively impacted in your social life, missing events you enjoy in order to drink, losing a partner or a job because of alcohol use, and other things. Some physical signs you can keep an eye out for include:
When we consume alcohol, our body processes it through the liver. Our liver, however, has a maximum capacity and can only process so much alcohol at one time. Whenever this capacity is reached, the alcohol within your body that isn’t being processed is more likely to impact your bloodstream and reach other organs like your brain.
Alcohol interferes with the way the brain communicates with the rest of your body. It can disrupt some of the patterns and communication methods of the brain. This can lead to changes in mood and behavior and also impact things like the ability to think clearly, or coordination.
The longer this happens throughout a person’s life, the more likely the brain might start to sustain long-term damage. This can then elevate these side effects, turning “not thinking clearly” into difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and more.
The symptoms of alcoholic dementia might not be easy to spot at first. We all experience moments of forgetfulness or bad days when our mood is off. The important thing to note if you suspect you or a loved one might be experiencing alcoholic dementia is the history of it. Do they have a history of alcohol use? How long have these symptoms been popping up? Do they seem to be occurring more frequently over time? How are they impacting you or your loved one’s day-to-day life?
If you’re noticing symptoms such as an impaired ability to learn things, personality changes, newly developed problems with memory, difficulties planning and organizing, a shift in “common sense” and social skills, and/or a decrease in motivation – these are all common signs of alcohol dementia.
When it comes to alcohol-related dementia, the biggest concern stems primarily from the other conditions that can arise due to long-term alcohol use. This includes an increased risk of cancer across several organs in the body as well as liver damage or even liver failure.
There are also other ARBDs that are adjacent to, and maybe even linked with alcoholic dementia. The most prominent of these is Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a neurological disorder that is primarily caused by a lack of vitamin B1. While there are other ways to develop Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome such as through dietary deficiencies and chemotherapy, alcohol misuse is a primary cause of this condition.
Along with the already mentioned side effects of alcoholic dementia, Weincke-Korsakoff syndrome also can cause:
Many conditions that arise from alcohol misuse can be addressed and even reversed if treated properly and promptly. When it comes to alcohol dementia, there are a lot of support and alcohol treatment options available out there. Depending on the severity of the alcohol use as well as the severity of the alcoholic dementia, there are some cases that can’t ever be fully addressed.
Please note that proper treatment is always the best chance to address and work to recover from the side effects of long-term alcohol use.
Seeking recovery from alcohol use can seem overwhelming. With long-term conditions, making a change might even seem impossible or unreal. Here at San Antonio Recovery Center, however, our team knows this isn’t true. We’ve seen clients from all walks of life come in and find the healing they deserve. Our goal is to set you up for long-term success.
Our expert team at SARC will work with you one-on-one to help determine what your needs are and establish a plan to reach your goals. With the full continuum of care available to you in an intimate setting, we make sure you get the hands-on care you need.
If you want to start your recovery journey, SARC is here to help. We’re ready to work with you throughout this whole process to ensure your needs are met. If you have any questions about your treatment programs, insurance, or anything else – don’t hesitate to give us a call anytime at 866-957-7885.
What is the life expectancy of someone with alcohol dementia?
The exact life expectancy of someone with alcohol dementia depends on many factors. Things like history of alcohol use, other substance use, age, other health concerns, and more can greatly impact someone's life expectancy. Additionally, if someone is getting proper treatment for their alcohol use, it can impact their life expectancy as well.
Does alcoholism cause memory loss?
Yes, alcoholism can cause memory loss as well as many other mental and personality-based side effects.
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