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What is Alcohol Abuse?
Alcohol affects people in different ways. Some people enjoy a drink with food or in certain social settings. Others might even drink alcohol to cope with depression or self-esteem issues. When people have reached the point where they are unable to control their alcohol consumption, this is known as alcohol abuse. People that chronically abuse alcohol are susceptible to developing wet brain symptoms.
Alcohol abuse is the second most common form of substance abuse in the United States, after tobacco addiction. People that suffer from alcohol addiction have developed issues or problems in their health, at work, school, or even with the law. Despite these negative consequences, people with alcohol problems are unable to stop or cut down on how much they are consuming.
It is not fully understood yet why some people abuse alcohol and others do not. One cause can be due to genetics. A family history of alcohol addiction can place a person at higher risk for developing an addiction. For example, children of parents who have trouble with alcohol are at an increased risk of developing this disorder.
Signs and Symptoms of Alcohol Abuse
There are numerous different signs and symptoms of alcohol abuse. Some signs and symptoms that can be seen in someone who abuses alcohol are:
- Poor decision-making abilities
- Slurred speech
- Difficulty concentrating
- Gaps in memory
- Risky behavior
- A decline in personal hygiene
- Signs of worsening depression or anxiety
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms after they have discontinued drinking
- Drinking more to achieve the same effect
- An overall decline in health or wellbeing
Short and Long-Term Health Consequences of Alcohol Abuse
Drinking too much alcohol regularly can cause serious short or long-term health issues. Below is a list of short and long-term health consequences that can occur in people who abuse alcohol.
Short-term health consequences of alcohol abuse include:
- Alcohol poisoning
- Breathing difficulties
- Distorted vision and hearing
Long-term health consequences of alcohol abuse include:
- Cancer of the mouth and throat
- Liver disease
- High blood pressure
- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, also known as wet brain disease
What is Wet Brain Disease?
One long-term health problem that is caused by too much alcohol consumption is memory loss. Heavy alcohol use can damage short and long-term memory. Your memory can be divided into two parts. Your long-term memory is known as retrospective memory and your short-term memory is known as prospective or working memory.
Short-term or working memory is typically affected more by alcohol. Your short-term memory controls your day-to-day brain function, specifically, remembering how to complete daily activities. It is normal for people to forget information from time to time but people who drink too much alcohol regularly make more memory mistakes than someone who does not drink that often.
One type of memory problem is known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. It has several names such as wet brain disease, wet brain dementia, or alcohol-related dementia. Wet brain disease (WBD) begins with a deficiency in thiamine.
Thiamine Deficiency In People with Wet Brain Disease
Thiamine, or Vitamin B1, is important for building enzymes that play important roles in processing and converting sugar into energy and creating chemical messengers in the brain and genetic material in the cells. People receive thiamine through their diet. People usually become thiamine deficient due to poor nutrition or heavy alcohol use. Alcohol abuse is connected to thiamine deficiency because those who drink a lot of alcohol often usually do not eat a balanced diet, therefore, they do not intake sufficient levels of thiamine.
Additionally, the human body absorbs thiamine as it passes through the gastrointestinal tract. After passing through the gastrointestinal tract, thiamine is transported to the tissues.
Thiamine absorption decreases in people with chronic alcohol abuse. This is because alcohol creates inflammation in the digestive tract, which makes it difficult for the body to absorb thiamine.
Thiamine deficiency is the main cause of wet brain disease. Wet brain disease is a severe life-threatening brain disorder. People who chronically drink alcohol at a higher amount are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with wet brain disease. Up to 80% of people with severe alcohol use disorder become thiamine deficient, which can lead to WBD.
What Are Wet Brain Symptoms?
There are two main parts of wet brain symptoms. The first part is a severe and temporary condition characterized by confusion, loss of muscular coordination, abnormal eye movements, and vision changes. The second part, which is known as Korsakoff’s psychosis, is a persistent chronic condition that can cause significant impairment in learning and memory and interfere with a person’s ability to function normally. The Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome was nicknamed wet brain disease because this condition is most common in people who have abused alcohol for several years.
Wet brain symptoms may seem similar to those who are intoxicated except that they actually persist in the absence of drinking. Some wet brain symptoms include:
- Loss of muscular coordination
- Abnormal eye movements
- Vision changes
- Memory loss
- Behavioral changes
If you are close to anyone who abuses alcohol, you may notice them exhibiting certain wet brain symptoms. Some wet brain symptoms include:
- Difficulty and resistance
- Lies, or making up stories
- Frustration and irritability
- Reduced consciousness
Can Wet Brain Disease be Treated?
It is possible to reverse wet brain disease. However, the severity of a person’s wet brain symptoms, how early a person begins treatment, and the type of treatment that a person receives can all potentially affect whether WBD can be reversed or not. In short, the earlier wet brain disease treatments start the better.
Wet brain treatment can alleviate wet brain symptoms. As stated above, thiamine deficiency is the main culprit of wet brain disease.
Health care professionals usually treat wet brain disease through thiamine supplementation. Thiamine can be taken as an oral supplement, which can be found over the counter, or as an intramuscular or intravenous injection to restore a person’s normal thiamine levels to the body and reduce wet brain symptoms.
Increased thiamine levels have been shown to reduce confusion, increase coordination, improve eye function, and reduce memory problems in patients with WBD. Thiamine therapy can offer improvement in wet brain symptoms after 5-12 days of starting wet brain treatment. Some people can make a full recovery, but this is rare.
Another beneficial treatment for wet brain disease is abstinence from alcohol. This, along with receiving thiamine supplements, can be very beneficial for people with wet brain disease. High doses of thiamine supplementation are the most effective treatments for the reversal or prevention of wet brain symptoms, especially in the early stages of wet brain alcoholism.
Treatment for Alcohol Addiction at Harmony Ridge Recovery Center
If you or a family member is dealing with alcohol abuse and are ready to take the next step towards recovery, Harmony Ridge Recovery Center is here to help. Alcohol addiction can cause serious negative health issues, including wet brain disease. Wet brain disease is treatable though, especially when a person receives wet brain treatment early on.
Abstaining from alcohol is the overall best wet brain treatment option. It will not only prevent wet brain disease, but it will also prevent other health issues such as high blood pressure and cancer. Abstaining from alcohol can even allow you to take back control over your life.
To begin recovery, the first step is detoxification, to rid your body of any drugs and alcohol. It is never a good idea to go through detox alone. Withdrawal from alcohol can be very dangerous and painful, and in some cases fatal. Completing a medically supervised detoxification protocol within a licensed detox facility is the safest and most effective way.
Achieve Alcohol Addiction Recovery At Harmony Ridge
Harmony Ridge Recovery Center is located in West Virginia. Our mission here at Harmony Ridge is to provide individualized and evidence-based addiction treatment in a comfortable, caring, and compassionate setting. We here at Harmony Ridge treat each patient with the utmost respect and dignity throughout his or her journey towards sobriety.
We offer various types of therapies and treatments here at Harmony Ridge. That way our patients gain an in-depth understanding of their addictions and the underlying conditions that have fueled their alcohol and drug use.
One type of therapy we offer here at Harmony Ridge is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is one of the most common and best-studied forms of psychotherapy. It consists of two theories, cognitive therapy and behavioral therapy.
Cognitive therapy focuses on a person’s thoughts, attitudes, and expectations. Behavioral therapy looks to find out if specific behavioral patterns make one’s life difficult or magnify one’s problems.
In order to get the most out of CBT, a person has to be open and honest, stick to the treatment plan, and do homework that has been assigned by the therapist. We understand that treatment is not one size fits all, so we offer other therapy options such as dialectical behavior therapy, holistic addiction therapy, group therapy, and art therapy.
If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol abuse and you have been putting off getting help because you fear withdrawal symptoms or because you don’t know what to expect, please contact Harmony Ridge Recovery Center today.