Alcoholic Dementia

Alcohol has been a substance of harm for years and years. Innumerable ill effects of alcohol have been highlighted in the past and continue to be highlighted today. However, unfortunately, the sale and consumption of alcohol remain rampant. Alcohol not only leads to behavioral changes for a short period but can also lead to permanent and lasting damage.

What is Alcoholic Dementia?

Alcoholic Dementia has many names. It is referred to as Alcohol−related Dementia, alcohol−induced major neurocognitive disorder, and even Alcoholic Brain Damage. Disproportionate consumption of alcohol can lead to brain damage which leads to Dementia. Dementia is an individual's thinking, behavior, emotions, memory, and capability to perform everyday tasks are affected. If an individual has Dementia, they will be unable to complete day−to−day tasks because of the damage to their brain that alcohol causes.

How is Alcoholic Dementia Caused?

Consuming alcohol regularly can cause a deficiency of vitamin B1. This is extremely common among people with chronic drinking problems. Vitamin B1 is responsible for converting food into energy; without enough of it, the body cannot function correctly. People with chronic drinking problems generally drink more than they eat, which is why they are unusually low on this vital component.

Symptoms of Alcoholic Dementia

Some of the most common symptoms of alcoholic Dementia are −

  • Being xarn new things

Stages of Alcoholic Dementia

Usually, Alcoholic Dementia has the following three stages −

Early Stage − At the early stage, alcohol−related Dementia is difficult to notice. At this stage, people may start forgetting small details, such as where they kept their keys. They may also find it challenging to make decisions and express their thoughts. They may have some mood changes as well.

Mid−Stage − Symptoms at this stage become more serious. People with alcoholic Dementia may start forgetting faces, including those of their loved ones. They may also find it more challenging to communicate at this point.

End−Stage − People in the end stage of alcoholic Dementia may need help with basic behaviors such as eating and bathing. They may get unpredictable and uninhibited, and communication with them becomes almost impossible since they may even feel they are at an earlier stage of life.

Types of Alcoholic Dementia

The most common form of alcoholic Dementia is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. It results from a deficiency of Vitamin B1, which occurs in two parts.

  • The first is Wernicke's Encephalopathy. This is a reversible condition and is characterized by problems in eye movement, confusion, and difficulties in coordination.

  • If this condition is not reversed, it eventually leads to a permanent condition named Korsakoff Syndrome. People with this condition have a shorter life span than others and may only live for a couple of years after getting it.


When diagnosing alcoholic Dementia, the doctor is most likely to ask questions regarding the person's daily functioning to understand better the presence and extent of cognitive impairments and their effect on their life. They may also conduct tests and physical examinations in order to get a complete understanding of a person's health condition.

While conducting tests for alcoholic Dementia, the doctors look out for the following −

  • Unnatural reflexes− they may be decreased
  • Faster heart rate
  • Low body temperature
  • Low blood pressure
  • Abnormal eye movement
  • Weakening of muscles
  • Issues in the coordination of limbs
  • The DSM gives a criterion for diagnosing alcoholic Dementia, which is also used to diagnose it.
  • Failure to recognize objects
  • Problems in executive functioning like planning and organizing
  • Disturbances in language
  • Impairments in motor functioning

Treatment of Alcoholic Dementia

Alcoholic Dementia can be treated, and early treatment is necessary to prevent and reverse the damage caused by alcohol. Abstinence from alcohol is the first and foremost way to treat the condition. Abstinence for a year has been proven effective in reversing problems with cognitive functioning, such as memory, problem-solving, and attention. Another treatment strategy is to ensure the individual eats a diet rich in Vitamin B1. If administered timely, it can prevent memory loss and other memory−related issues.

Coping with Alcoholic Dementia

As treatment continues, it is also essential for individuals with alcoholic Dementia to eat a nutrition−rich diet to support brain functions. Having a balanced meal helps in reducing the craving to drink. Maintaining a good daily routine is also healthy. Knowing what is supposed to happen at what time, doing similar things daily, and seeing close ones can help the recovery journey.


Alcohol−related Dementia or alcoholic Dementia is caused by the excessive use of alcohol for long periods. A loss in cognitive functioning characterizes it. It is a reversible condition in most cases but can lead to further complications. It is best to get timely treatment to ensure no negative consequences.

Updated on: 06-Apr-2023


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