What is Alcohol-Related Brain Damage?

What is Alcohol-Related Brain Damage?

Alcohol is an underestimated drug. It’s legal, it’s easy to access and most people partake in it at some point in their life. It’s also socially acceptable to use and almost taboo not to. This all means that the dangers are overlooked and are not discussed enough, but there are dangers.

Dangers of alcohol consumption vary depending on the level and regularity of consumption. It can be safe enough for most moderate drinkers, but for those with worrying levels of consumption, there are serious side effects and damage at risk.

Do you think that brain damage sounds far-fetched when talking about alcohol? Lots of people might not bat an eye if someone had said it about heroin or cocaine, but most don’t expect something so serious when it’s related to something they regularly consume themselves.

However, it is a real risk when a person drinks too much.

Alcohol Related Brain Damage (ARBD) is a brain disorder caused by regularly drinking too much over a prolonged period of time.

Alcohol Related Brain Damage is an umbrella term that includes a number of different conditions including Wernicke Korsakoff Syndrome and alcohol dementia.

While the above terms don’t technically mean dementia, they share a lot of the symptoms. The key difference between the above conditions and forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease is that the symptoms can be reversed to allow for a full or partial recovery. This is only if the patient receives good support and remains alcohol-free. If the sufferer doesn’t receive or accept help, there’s a good chance that the condition will worsen which results in it being much harder to come back from if they do eventually get help.

Early diagnosis and treatment is, therefore, key to making a full recovery.

Drinking behaviour has changed in the UK over the past decade. Most people probably think that it’s young people in the late teens or early 20s most at risk of developing this condition. However, it’s actually middle-aged people who consume the most alcohol. They also tend to consume more alcohol at this stage in their lives than they ever did previously, which results in a greater likelihood of developing the condition.

By contrast, younger people aged between 16 and 24 are now drinking less, and are more likely to avoid binge drinking. When looking at this age group, Alcohol Related Brain Damage, doesn’t seem to be a widespread concern. However, it is for others and unfortunately is still a relatively under-recognised problem overall.

The risks of drinking too much alcohol

Everyone knows about the short term effects of alcohol misuse. However, there’s a gap in knowledge for a lot of people about the long term effects. There is a common misconception that alcohol damage only really affects those who are stereotypical alcoholics.

You may think that because you don’t look like one the stereotypes (for example, drinking in the morning or stealing to buy alcohol), that you don’t have to worry about the long term effects.

However, even if your alcohol consumption is manageable, acceptable in your social circle and you remain functional in other areas of your life – there are still dangers to be aware of.

You don’t necessarily need to be an alcoholic to increase your risk of dementia or ARBD. All you need to be doing is regularly drinking a little above the recommended levels.

Alcohol consumption can increase your risk of developing dementia such as Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. This type of drinking can also increase the risk of you developing other conditions such as heart or liver disease, stroke or cancer.

One particular risky behaviour is binge drinking. Often people will abstain throughout the week and then binge at the weekend and think they’re fine. However, this is particularly risky as it raises the amount of alcohol in the blood to a high level very quickly.

If you’re worried about your own consumption and potential alcohol misuse, it’s worth checking the official guidelines. Of course, this will depend on many factors but it’s a good basic guideline to follow.

The NHS has revised its recommended limits to a maximum of 14 units per week for men and women spread over 3 or more days. However, lower limits are recommended for older people due to the way their bodies handle alcohol differently. To give you an idea of what units look like, a small 125ml glass of wine is usually around 1.5 units and a pint of beer is usually 2 to 2.5 units.

If this comes as a surprise and you realise you’ve been over-consuming alcohol on a regular basis, it’s time to have a serious think about your health.

If it feels like cutting back on the amount you drink would be a struggle then perhaps you may have a problem that requires treatment. Many people who come to us find they have been in denial about their addiction for a long time. If you’ve come to the conclusion that you may have an alcohol addiction, it’s not too late to get help and reverse the damage done to your body.

Recovery is a difficult process but well worth the time and effort that goes into it. You will drastically improve your health and overall well-being when you decide to go into recovery.

If you need help from us, we offer a range of rehab clinics all over the UK to help you combat your alcohol addiction. Get in touch with us to set up a consultation with one of our specialists and we can discuss your options in more detail.

All you have to do is give us a call on 0800 470 0382, or you can text the word HELP to 83222. Alternatively, we also have a live chat function on our website, that you should be able to find in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.

We hope to hear from you soon and help you on your way to recovery and a life of better health and well-being.