“I Can’t Remember”: Everything You Need To Know About Alcohol-Related Dementia


Man with head exploding

Alcohol can cause many immediate side effects, such as slurred speech, dizziness, aggression, lack of impulse control, nausea, and more. However, excessive, long-term use can cause more damage to your brain and body; liver damage from alcohol abuse can cause cirrhosis, a liver disease that involves loss of liver cells and irreversible scarring of the liver. Pancreatitis is another dangerous condition that involves inflammation of the pancreas, also causing nerve damage. Alcohol abuse can cause many brain cells to die, meaning that a person could experience lower cognitive functioning. Alcohol-related dementia (ARD), also known as alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD) is a severe condition that can occur after many years of alcoholism.

As the name suggests, over time, alcohol affects a person’s ability to remember things, to learn new things, and to perform other cognitive functions. There is still much debate as to the causes of this condition, but scientists believe it may be due to the lack of vitamins a person receives as they become dehydrated from excessive alcohol consumption, or due to the fact that alcohol can damage brain cells. Signs of this condition include:

  • Difficulty learning new things
  • Having trouble remembering things
  • Personality changes
  • Difficulty initiating and completing tasks that require organization, planning, common sense judgment and social skills
  • Problems with balance
  • Decreased spontaneity

A 2016 study published in the International Journal of High Risk Behaviors and Addiction sought to examine research on alcoholism and dementia to identify any connections. Researched analyzed 131 studies and found that prolonged use of alcohol may cause structural and functional brain damage, which can lead to ARD. Results from the study did indicate that partial recovery may be achieved if a person maintains abstinence with their recovery.

Exactly how much is too much? Experts say that for men, drinking more than six standard alcoholic drinks and day for women, drinking more than four a day can lead to increased risk of developing ARD. If you or a loved one have been struggling with alcoholism, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center to learn more about treatment programs that could take you on the path towards recovery.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5086415/

https://drugabuse.com/library/the-effects-of-alcohol-use/

https://www.dementia.org.au/about-dementia/types-of-dementia/alcohol-related-dementia

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/drinking-too-much-alcohol-may-increase-dementia-risk#4