When you abuse alcohol, ethanol, the active ingredient that causes intoxication, can severely overwork your liver. Most forms of liver disease are irreversible, making it important to get help when you first start exhibiting signs of a drinking problem. Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to conditions like alcoholic dementia, which are not only debilitating but are also progressive and chronic.
Ingrained in American culture, almost every social setting such as weddings, sports games, or holiday celebrations involves alcohol. More than half of all adults in the United States drink at least once a month, making alcohol one of the most commonly used and abused substances in the country. In fact, 9.5% of men and 3.3% of women abuse alcohol. Alcohol can cause physical dependence, organ damage, and cognitive problems.
How Alcoholism Works
Alcohol is a neurotransmitter inhibitor and highly addictive. Drinking alcohol causes your brain to release a rush of pleasurable neurotransmitters, which results in your brain associating alcohol with pleasure. This process changes how your pleasure and reward center operates and positively reinforces your drinking. When you develop alcoholism, you compulsively drink and abuse alcohol despite wanting to quit or dealing with harmful consequences as a result of your drinking.
Alcohol impairs your judgment, lowers inhibitions, and causes memory loss. When you drink, you are more likely to engage in fights or arguments, which can lead to significant damage to your relationships. If you are married or have children, alcoholism can destroy your marriage and hurt your family. Children who grow up with a parent with substance abuse or drinking problem are at a higher risk of experiencing trauma, mental health disorders, and addiction.
Alcoholism can also cause you to lose your job, experience legal problems, and worsen your overall quality of life. Since it takes your liver at least an hour to process one serving of alcohol, excessive drinking can lead to liver failure and cirrhosis. When you become physically dependent on alcohol, you can deal with troubling and severe withdrawal symptoms.
Alcoholism can also:
- Aggravate underlying mental health and medical conditions
- Cause alcoholic dementia
- Lead to heart and neurological problems
- Lower your life expectancy
- Cause behavioral, personality, and mood changes
What is Alcoholic Dementia?
Alcoholic dementia is a complication from long-term alcohol use and abuse. In fact, alcohol and alcoholism are the leading cause of early-onset dementia, with as many as 57% of people diagnosed with the condition having a history of heavy drinking. Unfortunately, delayed treatment can mean alcoholic dementia is incurable as it causes progressive neurological degeneration.
Having alcoholic dementia requires early treatment, as the condition is reversible in its early stages. Women are more likely to recover from early-stage alcoholic dementia than men. Alcoholism causes severe nutritional deficiencies and correlates with low thiamine and magnesium levels. Thiamine consumption helps stabilize your cognitive health.
One of the major parts of treating alcoholic dementia, especially in its early stages, is to improve your nutrition and quit drinking. Since sobriety is difficult to achieve without help, receiving treatment from rehab is essential to recovery. A proper diet is also a central part of recovering from alcoholic dementia, as severe malnutrition can cause neurological damage.
The signs and symptoms of alcoholic dementia include:
- Symptoms last for at least 60 days after your last drink
- Memory loss and confusion
- Language difficulty and disturbances
- Motor function impairment
- Difficulty in planning, organizing, and sequencing
Finding Treatment Today
If you or a loved one is battling alcoholism, early treatment is essential to avoid developing conditions like alcoholic dementia. Severe alcohol abuse impacts not only your personal life and career but also your physical, mental, and emotional health. To learn more about alcoholic dementia and your treatment options, call us today at 855.259.1624.