Alcohol Induced Dementia: Hope for Healing
Don’t drink and drive. That very common slogan points up the fact that alcohol can affect the brain. The behaviors that come with being “drunk” such as slurred speech and poor coordination may be only temporary, but long term abuse of alcohol can cause alcohol induced, or alcohol related, dementia, which can result in more serious – and possibly permanent – damage to parts of the brain.
Alcohol in moderation has a range of well-publicized benefits for the heart and cardiovascular system. But when it’s abused by bingeing or drinking heavily and consistently for long periods, it can be severely toxic to the body and the brain.
Damage to brain cells from alcohol abuse can cause a number of symptoms that are often confused with those of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, including:
- Short and long term memory loss
- Problems with “executive functions’ such as planning, organizing and making decisions
- Impaired coordination
- Nerve damage in arms and legs
- Difficulties with speech and language
- Personality changes
What Causes Alcohol Induced Dementia?
Alcohol is a neurotoxin – a substance that can be toxic to the brain and other parts of the body. With a lot of exposure over a long period of time, ethanol and other ingredients in various alcoholic drinks can kill brain cells and shrink brain tissues. The damage is especially evident in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for the “big picture” functions of decision-making and organization, and in areas related to memory.
Alcohol induced dementia can also be caused by a shortage of Vitamin B1, or thiamin, a nutrient that’s essential for healthy nerves, cells and tissues. The brain needs Vitamin B1 in order to build neural pathways that support memory, coordination and a host of other functions.
But people in the grip of an alcohol addiction may eat a nutrient-poor diet, skip meals or have other kinds of addictions and health problems that make it hard to eat healthy foods.
Chronic, heavy alcohol abuse can also damage the liver, causing diseases such as cirrhosis and hepatic insufficiency. The liver is responsible for clearing the body of toxins so that they can’t circulate in the blood stream and enter the brain. But when the liver is compromised by long years of alcohol abuse, it clears toxins much less efficiently, or it can shut down completely.
That can cause toxic chemicals such as ammonia to circulate to the brain and damage brain cells, too. Depending on the affected area of the brain, alcohol related liver damage can cause typical alcohol induced dementia symptoms such as:
- Memory impairment
- Coordination problems
- Depression and psychosis
Treatment Options Bring Hope
- Quitting alcohol completely
- Eating a healthy diet with vitamin supplementation as needed
- Treating alcohol related liver disease to control toxins
If you’ve been using alcohol for a long time, quitting can be more difficult and risky. Inpatient alcohol rehab programs offer comprehensive support for all stages of recovery from long-term alcohol abuse, from detox to counseling and support groups.
Detoxing under the supervision of trained medical professionals in an inpatient center lets you withdraw from alcohol safely and completely and move seamlessly on to the next steps in your recovery.
In an inpatient treatment center, nutritious meals on a regular schedule can help you get the essential vitamins and other minerals your body may have missed. You can get help for other alcohol related health issues such as liver problems as part of your inpatient program, too. Your residential program can also connect you and your family with resources for longer term care of lingering symptoms, if needed.
The symptoms of alcohol induced, or related, dementia can affect all areas of life. But if you, or someone you know, is experiencing the symptoms of long-term alcohol abuse, there is help – and hope for the future. We have the answers you need now. Contact us at 800-839-1686Who Answers? to find the solution that’s right for you.