Alcohol-related dementia

The early stages of any form of dementia tend to be subtle and difficult to notice. People are generally able to live independently during the early stages of dementia, but subtle memory problems, such as losing items frequently, may occur. People with early-stage dementia may also find it more difficult to make complex decisions and express themselves. Bowden et al. remarked that it would be more apt to describe the chronic phase of WKS as ‘dementia-like deterioration’/ARD rather than severe and selective amnesia (53). Having comparatively spared implicit and procedural memories, patients typically have profound antegrade amnesia and impaired recall, with recall being better for more remote events (54, 55).

The effects of alcohol-related dementia may be reversible, depending on your circumstances. For instance, research suggests that a five-year history of drinking 35 alcoholic beverages a week for men and 28 for women presents a «sufficient» risk for the development of ARD. However, a person will likely need to take thiamine supplements and stop or significantly cut back on alcohol consumption for the best results.

Symptoms of alcohol dementia

With the right treatment and support, there is often a good chance that it will stop getting worse or improve. It can be difficult to get an assessment, as some GPs will insist that the person has stopped drinking for several weeks before they can assess the person’s memory. Some experts think that a person can be assessed for alcohol-related ‘dementia’ while they are still drinking too much, as long as they aren’t intoxicated at the time of the assessment. Alcohol-related ‘dementia’ can also cause problems with a person’s mood, such as apathy, depression or irritability.

  • Going to meetings can hold you accountable for quitting drinking and improving your health.
  • Regularly drinking too much alcohol damages blood vessels in a person’s brain and can lead to high blood pressure.
  • Thus, CBT cannot be effectively employed where cognition is severely impaired particularly memory and executive function (81-83).
  • Korsakoff syndrome is most commonly caused by alcohol misuse, but certain other conditions also can cause the syndrome.

The age of onset of alcohol-related dementia varies, but it’s often seen in middle-aged adults around 40 to 50 years old. However, it can occur earlier or later depending on the amount of alcohol a person consumes. While forgetfulness and short-term memory might be the first signs, a person may go on to experience difficulties with executive functioning (like organizing and planning) and, in a later stage, problems with motor abilities. Thiamine works in the brain by helping brain cells produce energy from sugar. If there is a deficiency of thiamine, brain cells do not produce enough energy to function properly. Treatment typically involves the use of thiamine supplements in oral or injected forms.

Recovery Coaching

Scientists don’t yet understand the mechanism by which Korsakoff syndrome may cause confabulation. The person may also see or hear things that are not there (hallucinations). Considering these controversies surrounding the concept of ARD, we have tried to review the nosology, prevalence, presentation, underlying pathology and management of ARD in this paper. Use of this website and any information contained herein is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement. Reducing heavy alcohol use may be an effective dementia prevention strategy. This review was based on published literature, all of which is fully listed.

can alcoholism cause dementia

A 2016 study found that heavy drinking, equating to eight or more drinks per week, and drinking liquor increased cognitive decline among people with AD. Most prospective cohort studies have follow-up periods of two to three years (see Table 2). Due to the adverse effects on other organ systems22 and higher mortality of alcohol-consuming individuals, these subjects may decease in-between intervals (attrition bias). Alcohol-related dementia often occurs in people who experience long-term alcohol misuse.

Increased risk for all-cause dementia in people who abstain from alcohol

When a person starts drinking more than around 25 units per week on a regular basis, it may start to affect their ability to think and function properly. Hologic, Inc. is a global medical technology innovator primarily focused on improving women’s can alcoholism cause dementia health and well-being through early detection and treatment. My interests lie in public health awareness and medical communication. I have worked as a clinical dentist and as a consultant research writer in an Indian medical publishing house.

If you or a loved one is living with AUD, it can be challenging to stop drinking. Alcohol withdrawal can be dangerous if you abruptly stop drinking after consuming large amounts of alcohol for a long time. If you have depression and drink too much alcohol, then you may be wondering if there are any treatments or lifestyle changes for someone in your situation.


It can reduce the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory. Available epidemiological studies are not sufficient to verify a protective effect of alcohol on dementia development. People with severe alcohol use disorder also tend to have nutritional deficiencies from a poor diet and irregular eating habits.

Alcohol and dementia: New South Korea study finds reducing drinking lowers risk – NPR

Alcohol and dementia: New South Korea study finds reducing drinking lowers risk.

Posted: Sat, 18 Feb 2023 08:00:00 GMT [source]

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