Getting Help For Alcohol Abuse And Addiction
It can be difficult to stop using alcohol, even if its causing alcohol-related dementia signs to occur. Anyone with an alcohol use disorder should seek professional medical help to prevent further complications while working toward addiction recovery.
Alcohol addiction treatment options include outpatient and inpatient treatment. Outpatient treatment involves going to regular physical and mental health appointments to get treatment and learn how to overcome alcohol addiction while otherwise keeping any work and social obligations. Inpatient treatment requires more dedication and involves living in a rehab center to get intensive treatment that is more likely to have a lasting effect.
The Recovery Village offers high-quality inpatient and outpatient treatment options across the country. We invite you to contact us to learn how to get started on your journey to lasting recovery from the effects of alcohol addiction.
Testing And Treatment For Alcoholic Dementia
There are several medical tests that can be performed to help determine if a person has alcoholic dementia. Examining a persons nervous and muscular system can help shed light on any nerve damage caused by alcoholic dementia. Many physicians will also administer blood tests to test a persons nutrition levels.
Tests that may be used to diagnose alcoholic dementia include:
- nervous/muscular system testing, such as looking for abnormal eye movement, increased pulse, muscle weakness, and low blood pressure
- blood testing to detect vitamin B1 levels and transketolase activity
- liver enzyme testing
If alcoholic dementia is detected and still in the early stages, significant improvement may be made through treatment. Quitting drinking is often the first step in treating this condition. Additionally, thiamine may be administered to improve eye movement and vision problems, confusion, and muscle coordination.
Improvement can take several weeks or months to be felt, and many people will remain in the hospital or treatment facility until their major symptoms subside. Individuals who have been diagnosed with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome may never regain complete cognitive function.
What Causes Alcohol Related Brain Damage
Alcohol related brain damage is caused by drinking alcohol excessively over a prolonged period of time. It can be caused by a combination of reasons including vitamin B1 deficiency , the toxic effects of alcohol on nerve cells, head injury and blood vessel damage. There are three main types of alcohol related brain damage Wernickes encephalopathy, Korsakoffs syndrome and alcoholic dementia. Both Wernickes and Korsakoffs can occur singularly or in combination when it is called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome.
Wernickes encephalopathy often has a sudden onset and is characterised by movement and balance problems, loss of coordination, confusion, disorientation and abnormal eye movements.
Korsakoffs syndrome occurs more gradually and the symptoms are usually attention and concentration problems, gaps in memory which are usually filled inaccurately and a difficulty learning new information.
Alcoholic dementia is characterised by a deteriorating ability in planning, decision making and assessment of risk. There tends to be a change in personality, reduced impulse and emotional control which may lead to conflict and socially inappropriate behaviour. In addition there are problems with attention, concentration and memory.
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Seeking Help For Alcohol Use And Addiction
The best way to prevent alcoholic dementia and other health complications related to chronic alcohol use is to seek treatment for alcohol addiction. While this decision can be difficult, it can quite literally save your life and improve your overall health and wellbeing. Vertava Health offers a variety of treatment programs catered to helping individuals overcome alcohol use disorders.
To learn more about alcoholic dementia and the alcohol addiction treatment programs we offer, contact an Vertava Health treatment specialist today.
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Inclusion And Exclusion Criteria
Reviews or meta-analyses were included if they described the systematic search process with listed databases and search terms. Narrative reviews without an explicit search strategy were excluded. In addition, included studies were restricted to systematic reviews that assessed the relationship between alcohol use and cognitive health, dementia, AD, vascular and other dementias, brain function, or memory. Systematic reviews on the association between alcohol use and brain structures were also included. Studies were included if they were published in 2000 or later in order to include only reviews which were undertaken using methodological standards similar to those used today however, this does not mean that the original studies underlying these reviews were restricted to 2000 or later .
What Is The Current Advice
According to the UK chief medical officers, we should stick to drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol a week. This keeps health risks to a low and safe level.
- Large glass of wine – 3 units
- Pint of higher-strength lager or beer – 3 units
- Standard glass of wine – 2 units
- Pint of lower-strength lager or beer – 2 units
- Bottle of lager or beer – 1.7 units
- Single shot of spirits – 1 unit
Clinical Awareness Of Connection Between Alcohol And Dementia Is Paramount To Providing The Best Patient Care Management
Patients who start abusing alcohol later in lifeafter age 40may be doing so secondary to an underlying neurologic condition, such as frontotemporal dementia, according to findings by a team of researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the University of California, San Francisco. The results are reported in the April 4 issue of the Journal of Alzheimers Disease.
Overall alcohol abuseclassified as when alcohol consumption negatively impacts work or social life or leads to legal ramificationsis present in 1.7 percent of older adults in the United States. Previous research has identified lifelong alcohol abuse as a risk factor for dementia. However, it has been unknown whether older adults who begin abusing acohol late in life have an underlying neurodegenerative disease. Particularly concerning is that people who begin abusing alcohol because of an underlying neurological condition may be misdiagnosed with primary alcohol abuse and referred to traditional addiction treatment programs, a process that may delay correct diagnosis and appropriate behavioral treatment, expend family resources, and add to patient and caregiver burden.
Funding for this research was provided by the National Institutes of Health, The National Institute on Aging, and the Larry L. Hillblom Network Grant for the Prevention of Age-Associated Cognitive Declince.
About the Journal of Alzheimers Disease
About IOS Press
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Alcohol And Dementia: A Complicated Relationship
James M. Ellison, MD, MPH
Swank Center for Memory Care and Geriatric Consultation, ChristianaCare
The role of alcohol use as a risk factor for dementia is complicated. At different times, alcohol has been seen as protective, harmful, or incidental to the risk of dementia. Each of these views is partially correct, and the entire story is not yet fully known. This article discusses some of what we do know.
Terry* was a heavy drinker for most of his life. He started with beer in high school and upped his intake over time. By his mid-60s, he was drinking a pint of vodka or more on most days. Faced with the symptoms of progressive liver disease at age 68, he resolved to stop, and he used AA successfully for support. However, his family brought him for cognitive assessment because they wondered if he was developing Alzheimersor was it the long-term effect of alcoholor both?
*Terry is a fictitious composite of multiple patients, to illustrate the important issues without risking the privacy of any individuals protected health information.
Is Moderate Alcohol Consumption Safe For The Brain
Some research has indicated that individuals who drank in moderation were less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease or any other form of dementia than those who consumed zero alcohol.
Some protective effects of alcohol have been seen on the brain, such as reduced thickness of blood and increased levels of healthy cholesterol in the body. Both of these effects have been suggested to help lower the risk of developing dementia.
However, the evidence produced by studies that link moderate alcohol consumption with a lower likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease does have some flaws. For example, many of these studies classified ‘non-drinkers’ as both people who have given up alcohol consumption due to health reasons and lifetime non-drinkers.
These two subsets of people are actually quite different as people who have given up drinking for health reasons may have already had alcohol-induced brain damage, so are more likely to be similar to people in the heavy-drinking category than lifetime non-drinkers.
Therefore the mixing of these distinct populations into one study group may have skewed the results and lead to conclusions which overstate the potential risk of not drinking alcohol to developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.
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Does Red Wine Help Your Brain
The daily consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine, was related to improvements in cognitive function weekly consumption of lamb, but not other red meats, was shown to improve long-term cognitive prowess and excessive consumption of salt is bad, but only individuals already at risk for Alzheimer’s Disease may …
Alcohol And Dementia: What’s The Truth
There are lots of reasons why drinking too much alcohol on a regular basis is not a good idea.
It can damage the liver, the heart and the brain and is bad for our general health – that much is known.
That is why UK guidelines advise men and women to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, equivalent to six pints of average-strength beer or seven glasses of wine.
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Alcohol Consumption With Dementia
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with dementia, it is important to speak honestly with your doctor about alcohol use, and they can discuss whether it is safe to consume alcohol. Only your physician can provide accurate and specific advice on this. However, since the consumption of alcohol can worsen and accelerate dementia symptoms, your doctor may advise you to cut back or abstain from alcohol entirely, especially for people who drink heavily or have been long-term drinkers.5 Although most forms of dementia are irreversible and chronic, symptoms of alcohol-related dementia can be halted or reversed if drinking is stopped and you follow a healthy diet with vitamin supplementation.8
What Do Experts Say
Recognising that heavy drinking and being dependent on alcohol are going to increase the risk of developing dementia is important, they say.
Prof Tara Spires-Jones, from the Centre for Discovery Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, said: “It is crystal clear that alcohol abuse is bad for your brain.”
But there is also agreement that more research is needed to work out the role played by the volume of alcohol consumed against how often alcohol is drunk – and how this affects the risk of early-onset dementia.
Most cases of Alzheimer’s disease, the most important cause of dementia, happen after the age of 65 and rise dramatically as people age. Discovering how to prevent those would be particularly useful.
Dr Doug Brown from the Alzheimer’s Society said that “alcohol abuse disorders may be responsible for more cases of early-onset dementia than previously thought”.
But he said the Lancet research did not change the current advice and did not suggest that moderate alcohol intake could cause early-onset dementia.
And there is a warning from Dr Sara Imarisio, head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK.
“People shouldn’t be under the impression that only drinking to the point of hospitalisation carries a risk.”
She said there were steps everyone could take to improve brain health.
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Interventions And Support For People With Alcohol Related Brain Damage
If the excessive consumption of alcohol is stopped and vitamin B1 levels increase, about 25% of cases recover completely, 50% of the cases show a partial recovery with some degree of damage and 25% of the cases diagnosed progress with damage to the brain and nervous system and may need long term care eventually.
People who are drinking excessively should have a gradual withdrawal of alcohol as suddenly stopping or rapidly reducing the intake may lead to: tremors, delirium, sweating, hallucinations, depression, anxiety and insomnia.
The person who is drinking alcohol to excess should see their GP for assessment of the issue and for referral for treatments and services available to treat the alcohol misuse. The GP may refer the person for managed withdrawal of alcohol, counselling and prescribe medication to stop the withdrawal symptoms and reduce the urge to drink alcohol. They may also advise that the person attend a local self-help group. In addition if the GP suspects that there may be cognitive damage they may refer the person for an assessment of the cognitive damage and for ongoing support if needed.
If alcohol related brain damage is diagnosed, the person and the family should be assisted to:
- devise an individualised plan focusing on strengths and interests
- follow guidance to remain alcohol free
- attend a self-help group
- eat a healthy balanced diet high in thiamine and take a vitamin supplement if required
How Does Alcohol Affect The Brain
Alcohol is a potent neurotoxin. While it doesnt cause brain cell death, it disturbs the normal head architecture, especially the neurons. It works its way through the blood and rescinds nerve cells.
This causes brain decline that eventually leads to irreversible brain damage and dementia.
The brain is a dense bundle of highly interconnected cells called the central nervous system. It contains structures called brain regions.
In the brain, the two major brain regions that have nerve cells are called the cerebral cortex.
This extends from the forehead and tips into the front of the brain and the cerebellum. The latter lies below the brain stem on the brain’s opposite side.
Both regions include a thick lining of neurons that are the specialized brain cells responsible for processing information.
The nerve cells are coated with a layer of protein called myelin, which protects the cell from harsh chemicals called free radicals. The layers of myelin expand, wrapping around nerve cells and acting as a shield around them.
Studies show that drinking damages the myelin on brain cells.
When the alcohol is consumed, free radicals enter the bloodstream and attack the myelin sheaths, destroying the protective layer and severing connections between nerve cells.
Several studies suggest that heavy drinking is linked to dementia alcohol or a loss of brain tissue, called atrophy, or brain shrink.
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Alcohol And Brain Injury
Alcohol intoxication tends to impair coordination, so people who are intoxicated are more likely to have accidents or falls. Head injuries, especially if they are severe, involve a loss of consciousness, or happen multiple times, are linked to an increased risk of dementia, even many years after the brain injury occurs.4,9 These types of injuries may be known as traumatic brain injuries , and can occur as a risk of car accidents, falls, or fights. TBIs can cause damage to areas of the brain, and begin a series of changes that allow proteins that cause dementia to accumulate near the damaged area.9
What Is Alcoholic Dementia
Alcoholic dementia involves memory loss and a variety of other cognitive impairments.
Both short- and long-term memory is affected by alcoholic dementia. This means its challenging to learn new information and remember things already learned.
Along with memory issues, there are a host of other cognitive issues.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is the official handbook used by the American Psychiatric Association.
According to the DSM-V, a person with alcoholic dementia may exhibit memory impairment and one or more of these cognitive impairments1:
- Aphasia Loss of ability to use or understand spoken or written language
- Inability to perform specific physical actions despite will and knowledge to do so and relevant muscles being intact
- Agnosia Failure to recognize individuals, objects, or sounds, despite senses being functional
- Executive Functioning Deficits Impaired ability to plan, organize, or think abstractly
Aphasia seems to be less common with alcoholic dementia compared to other dementias.9
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Should Dementia Patients Drink Alcohol
No. Alcoholic drinks can be a problem for dementia patients. Patients who have alcoholic dementia should also not drink. Alcohol interferes with the absorption of certain medications needed to treat dementia.
You may serve non-alcoholic options like sparkles, mocktail juices, or healthy smoothies.
Remember, alcohol can significantly impact your cognitive skills, sleep, mood, and cause severe cases of abnormal eye movements, limited brain function, Wernicke encephalopathy, a deficiency of thiamine vitamin b1 etc. Those limits increase depending on your body fat composition and obese individuals.
When you regularly binge drink, you increase your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or high blood pressure.
Alcohol Dementia patients should cut out alcohol and do the following:
What Caregivers Should Know About Alcohol Use And Alzheimer’s Disease
If you are a caregiver for a person with Alzheimers, you may be concerned about the effects of alcohol on the disease. When alcohol use is being discussed, circumstances such as the severity of the dementia, and the amount of alcohol being consumed should be considered, among other factors.
Alcohol Consumption and Stages of Alzheimers Disease
In the early stages of AD dementia, a glass of wine a day with a meal may not cause much harm at all. That is, provided your loved is NOT taking medications that interfere with alcohol, and that the treating physician is in agreement. To further complicate the issue, consider that many individuals with moderate dementia may not remember how much they drank and may inadvertently partake in heavy drinking without even realizing it.
It is also important to note that some research findings point to the fact that drinking on a daily basis is not recommended for an older person in the senior years who has never been a regular drinker . Studies showed that alcohol may have less of an adverse effect on seniors who have always been moderate drinkers, compared to those who refrained from drinking when they were young, then start drinking in the later years.
Alcohol and Brain Health
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