Alcoholic Dementia Symptoms

Alcohol Dementia: What You Need to Know

More than 50% of alcoholics will develop hallucinations and delusions as a result of their drinking. The terrifying thing is that their families can be unaware that the changes in behavior have occurred as alcohol-related dementia can easily be mistaken for typical behavior for someone who is aging, or having “senior moments.”

A diagnosis of alcohol-related dementia, or ARD, is sometimes surprising for families because they may not have been aware that their loved one was abusing alcohol. Your loved one could have been hiding their drinking, or it may have been a while since you’ve seen them.

Signs That You Might Have a Drinking Problem

Here are some signs that you or someone you know might have a drinking problem:

● Repeatedly neglecting your responsibilities because of your drinking
● Recurring alcohol-related legal problems, such as being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol
● Drinking alone
● Hiding your drinking from friends and family
● Feeling withdrawal symptoms when you try to stop or reduce your alcohol consumption
● Having to drink more than before to feel the same effects
● Drinking until you pass out or blackout
● Needing alcohol during the day

If someone you love has developed an alcohol use disorder and is acting differently than they used to, convince them to be evaluated by a medical professional. Alcohol-related dementia is serious, and while it is most commonly diagnosed in people in their 50s and older, it can happen to heavy drinkers of any age.

What Is Alcohol-related Dementia?

Alcohol-related dementia is a medical condition that eventually leads to a decline in mental health. The chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters that excessive, long-term alcohol use creates confuses brain functions.

The issue gets more common as more alcohol is consumed. The metabolites of alcohol are extremely toxic, and they damage the brain cells. Alcohol-related dementia is also called alcohol dementia or alcohol dementia syndrome (ADS). Alcohol abuse and dependence have been linked to several different types of dementia.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is the most common type of alcohol-related dementia, accounting for 60% to 70% of all cases. Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that causes the brain cells to shrink and die.

Vascular Dementia

This is the second most common type of alcohol dementia, accounting for about 20% of all cases. Vascular dementia occurs when there are problems in the blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. Deprivation of oxygen and nutrients causes brain cells to die and malfunction.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a degenerative disorder that affects memory, coordination, and vision. It occurs as a result of thiamine, or vitamin B1, deficiency that is caused by alcoholism. The syndrome consists of two separate disorders. (WE) develops first and causes confusion, lack of muscle coordination, and vision problems. Korsakoff psychosis develops later and causes memory loss, delusions, and hallucinations.

How Does Alcohol Cause Dementia?

As alcohol circulates through your body, it reduces the ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen to vital organs and tissues, including the brain. It causes not only direct damage to brain cells but also damages them by depriving those cells of oxygen that they need to function properly.

Ethanol is the main ingredient in alcoholic beverages that makes you feel tipsy or drunk. It interferes with your brain chemistry by lowering its inhibitory processes. In other words, it deactivates your brain’s rational processes, such as planning, decision-making, and attention.

Alcohol alters levels of serotonin and endorphins, which are essential for the normal functioning of the brain’s reward system. People who have abused alcohol may have trouble feeling pleasure from activities that would give most people enjoyment.

Who Is Most Likely to Develop Alcohol-Related Dementia?

Most people who drink excessively do not develop alcohol-related dementia, but some are at higher risk because of their genes and lifestyle. The following factors increase the possibility of having alcohol dementia:

• Age: People over 50 years old are more likely to develop this condition, especially if they have been drinking heavily for a long time.

• Gender: Men are more at risk than women because men tend to drink more than women and consume more calories from alcohol.

• Genetics: Certain genes can affect how quickly a person’s body breaks down alcohol or how likely they are to develop brain damage. Those with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to develop ARD because they have a genetic predisposition to alcoholism and cognitive impairment.

What Are the Symptoms of Alcohol-related Dementia?

People whose brains are affected by heavy drinking can demonstrate various symptoms. These symptoms may be mild and unnoticeable or severe enough to interfere with their daily lives.

The severity of alcohol-related dementia varies depending on how much a person drinks and how long they have been drinking heavily. Some symptoms of alcohol dementia are similar to those of other types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, and include:

• Memory problems

• Slowed or slurred speech

• Difficulty walking or loss of balance and coordination

• Reduced awareness of your surroundings (perceptual problems)

• Difficulty understanding abstract concepts such as numbers, time, and direction

• Poor decision-making skills

• Confusion and disorientation

• Hallucinations

• Poor vision

What Are the Long-term Complications of Alcohol-related Dementia?

Alcohol-related dementia is a serious condition that can lead to a variety of complications. Because of ARD, the person may not be able to eat properly or digest their food. Some people may not get enough nutrients in their diet because they skip meals. Others may not be able to digest food properly because chronic alcohol misuse damages the pancreas and other organs.

People with alcohol-related dementia are likely to forget to take care of themselves. They may also forget to wash their clothes and other personal items regularly. They end up neglecting personal hygiene tasks such as brushing their teeth, taking a bath or shower, and combing their hair.

Those with alcohol-related dementia are at a significantly higher risk of injuring themselves. For example, they may have trouble coordinating movements normally because of poor muscle control or balance issues resulting from long-term alcohol abuse. They might fall more often or have more difficulty standing up without assistance than other people do. This is especially dangerous if they live alone.

Those who develop ARD are at risk for many health complications, including liver damage or cirrhosis, pancreatitis, and mouth and throat cancers. Other complications that can arise from the disease include anemia, increased risk of cancer, and neurological problems such as strokes and seizures.

People affected by alcohol dementia tend to make poor decisions. This can lead to them driving under the influence, putting themselves and other people at risk of injury or death. People with this condition are also more likely to lash out at friends and family members, potentially causing emotional, and sometimes physical, harm.

Is Alcohol-related Dementia Treatable?

If it’s caught early enough, alcohol-related dementia is a reversible form of dementia that you can potentially cure with abstinence. The brain damage caused by alcohol abuse may not be entirely reversible, but symptoms improve significantly with abstinence and medical treatment.

Treatment Available for Alcohol-related Dementia

When it comes to alcohol-related dementia, our medical professionals at BlueCrest Recovery Center aim to prevent the symptoms of dementia from worsening. They do this by helping the client undergo alcohol abuse treatment successfully. There are several types of treatment plans that can be used to help those suffering from alcoholism.

Inpatient Rehabilitation

This treatment program requires that the client lives at our rehabilitation center. The individual will be in the care of medical professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week while in this program.

Outpatient Rehabilitation

Outpatient rehabilitation allows the client to go home each night after their sessions at the center. The sessions happen one or two times a week. The clients receive treatments during scheduled visits with our doctors who are specifically trained to help those with substance abuse problems. Clients must show that they have developed a strong 12-step network to undergo this program. They must also have support from their loved ones.

Detoxification Programs

Detoxification programs are almost always the first step in your treatment program. These programs help you stop drinking and give your body time to get rid of the alcohol in your system. Detox can be the most difficult. Because physical withdrawal symptoms can be dramatic, your loved one will receive around-the-clock monitoring and care. The good news is that detoxification is only temporary; afterward, the hope is that your loved one will be motivated to continue with appropriate treatment.

Alumni Services

BlueCrest Recovery Center offers alumni services that allow you to stay connected with other graduates after completing treatment. This program is a good way to maintain your recovery and avoid relapse on the road ahead. All clients who have graduated from BlueCrest Recovery Center are invited to be part of our alumni services.

Family Programs

Addiction affects not just individuals but whole families. For this reason, our centers offer family therapy as part of the treatment. Family members are taught skills that enable them to focus on themselves while communicating their feelings in a manner that will help them heal.

12-step and Evidence-based Programs

The 12 steps are part of a program that offers guidance and support for people suffering from an addiction to alcohol. The program’s goal is to change people’s perspectives about alcoholism and guide them to positive life changes.

In addition, evidence-based programs (EBPs) often rely on science-based interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). It has been proven to be an effective strategy for addressing mental health issues. EBP takes an individualized approach to substance abuse treatment using a variety of approaches tailored to each client’s unique needs and situation.

Holistic Approach

Treatment focuses on the physical aspects of addiction and does not consider the other dimensions that can contribute to relapse. To achieve lasting recovery, it is important to consider all dimensions of one’s body, mind, and spirit.

A holistic approach to treatment addresses all these areas by providing support for mind-body wellness, nutrition, exercise, and traditional psychotherapy. Our holistic program offers a variety of therapeutic approaches that allow you to increase your self-awareness, gain new skills, and learn how to make healthy choices.

Use of Medications

So far, the FDA has approved five medications to treat Alzheimer’s symptoms:

● Donepezil (Aricept)
● Galantamine (Razadyne)
● Rivastigmine (Exelon)
● Memantine (Namenda) and a combination of memantine and donepezil (Namzaric).

Alzheimer’s drugs work differently than medications used to treat other diseases. They don’t stop the disease, cure it, or reverse the damage that has already occurred. These drugs may temporarily improve symptoms, slow down the worsening of dementia, or delay the need for nursing home care.

How Can You Prevent Alcohol-related Dementia?

You can prevent alcohol dementia by avoiding alcohol. If you already drink, consider quitting or at least curbing your intake. If you’ve already developed a drinking problem, seek treatment. Consult your doctor about detoxification and rehabilitation programs to help you overcome your addiction and manage withdrawal symptoms.

Some vitamins and nutrients may help prevent alcohol dementia or treat it once it has already begun. Vitamin B1 supplements help in reducing symptoms of some forms of dementia. Other vitamins that may be helpful include vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6 and B12, and folate, which helps prevent memory loss.

Also, it would be best if you exercised regularly. Exercise helps the brain function better and keep it working at its best and most effective level. Then, eat healthy foods. You can’t outrun a bad diet. Even if you exercise daily, you should still eat healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

While a diagnosis of alcohol-related dementia may feel like the end of the world, it doesn’t have to be. Integration of family support, medical treatment, and holistic therapy can help patients cope with the symptoms of dementia caused by alcoholism. The sooner you begin treatment, the better your chances of recovery will be. Our professionals at BlueCrest Recovery Center are always available to help you or your loved one. Contact us today to schedule an appointme

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