What are the Long-Term Health Consequences of Alcoholism on the Brain?


Alcohol is one of the most dangerous and highly abused drugs in the world. Alcoholism carries a slew of long-term consequences that can greatly diminish an individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual health, and lead to early death. Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive, and fatal disease that, if left untreated, will inevitably worsen overtime and carry the risk of major health complications.

Prolonged alcohol use greatly affects the brain and major organs in the body. According to the CDC, “Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works. These disruptions can change mood and behavior, and make it harder to think clearly and move with coordination.”

There is also the danger of developing the neurodegenerative disorder Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Excessive alcohol use overtime leads to deficiency in thiamine, a vitamin required by all cells in the body. The disorder begins with Wernicke’s encephalopathy, symptoms of which include confusion, vision and eyesight issues, and problems walking. According to Medical News Today, “Often, individuals with WE may appear undernourished and underweight, or malnourished. They may also experience low blood pressure, low body temperature, and new memory problems. Because of the symptoms of confusion, unsteadiness, and lack of coordination (ataxia), a person with WE may appear to be drunk when they are not.”

Wernicke’s encephalopathy often leads to the developments of Korsakoff syndrome, causing major short-term memory problems that can interfere with an individual’s ability to function normally, even with simple tasks. Medical News Today explains, “An individual with KS may undergo personality changes, showing either apathy and a lack of concern, or displaying talkative and repetitive behavior. KS may gradually improve over time, but it is estimated that in about 25 percent of cases the condition is permanent.” If left unchecked, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome can lead to coma and death.

Excessive alcohol use causes major changes in the brain. Mental health problems such as depression and anxiety can be caused or exacerbated by alcohol use. Often, depression and anxiety as a result of alcoholism cause an individual to drink more as a means of coping with their mental health concerns, making the problem worse. Long-term alcoholism also speeds up the aging process of the brain, which can lead to early-onset dementia.

Your life does not have to be one of physical, mental, and spiritual suffering in addiction or alcoholism. You can make the decision to seek help today and begin building a brighter future. The Lakehouse Recovery Center is staffed with knowledgeable professionals who understand the disease of alcoholism, and are dedicated to treating every aspect of the disease. For information about individualized treatment options, please call today: (877) 762-3707


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