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Dementia Associated with Alcoholism

Alcohol dementia is a condition that occurs after many years of consistent and heavy drinking. This type of behavior most often leads to loss of memory, problems with learning and cognitive skills, and neurological damage. Alcohol induced dementia is very similar to other forms of dementia and even Alzheimer’s disease, but the problem could be prevented by treating alcoholism in it’s early stages. Alcohol dementia occurs after prolonged, excessive use of alcohol, but unlike other forms of dementia, onset doesn’t necessarily occur in old age. Dementia associated with alcoholism can begin as early as the thirties.

Common Symptoms of Alcoholic Dementia:

  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty performing ordinary, routine tasks
  • Poor judgment
  • Impaired language use
  • Noticeable change in personality

The aforementioned symptoms are also present in other forms of dementia. However, ff these symptoms are present in somebody who has had a history of drinking problems, then their dementia could be of the alcoholic type.

How Can Dementia Associated with Alcoholism be Prevented?

Prevention for this kind of dementia is found in the source of the alcoholism itself. Alcoholism can lead to many health and psychological problems, and over an extended period of time can increase the risk of dementia. The only way to prevent this is to control the alcohol addiction. This can be done through rehabilitation, hospitalization, and through a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Nipping alcoholism in the bud greatly decreases risk of dementia associated with alcoholism.

Treatment for Alcohol Dementia

Treatment for alcohol dementia is similar to any other treatment for dementia. However, if the patient is still drinking a considerable amount, there is the added element of ending this problem. Treatment for alcohol dementia includes stopping the drinking problem and creating a healthy diet, rich in lost vitamins and minerals. Psychological therapy can also be of aid to a sufferer of dementia because it can help them regain loss of cognitive skills, memories, and mental capacity.

What Should You Do?

If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol dementia, remember that the sooner the problem is treated, the better chance of reversal. Alcohol dementia can be reversed, but it is much more likely when treated early on. You should contact your regular health care provider, and also contact a local psychologist. Joining Alcoholics Anonymous can be of great help to someone struggling with alcohol addiction as well.

Links and Resources for Further Reading

Here’s an E-How article on how to identify alcohol dementia.
This document from Alzbrain.org has a lot of information about alcohol-induced dementia.
At addictioninfo.org, a doctor explains why alcohol dementia is overlooked. Are your health care providers overlooking a loved one’s alcohol-induced dementia?

Review Sources

  • E-How – E-How article about the signs and symptoms of alcohol dementia.
  • Wikipedia – Wikipedia entry about dementia of the alcoholic type, including diagnostic criteria.
  • Alzbrain.org – PDF document about alcohol induced dementia.
  • Addictioninfo.org – Article from a doctor who explains that alcohol dementia is often overlooked.

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