Alcohol-induced dementia or alcoholic dementia is a health condition that usually occurs when excessive alcohol is drunk for many years. It can cause loss of cognitive skill, memory and learning skills. The main reason behind this problem can be the direct effect of alcohol on the human brain. It can reduce the potential for decision making and judging things accurately. Lack of nutrition along with abusing alcohol can cause greater damage to one’s brain and affect his cognitive ability as well as memory as in case of Alzheimer’s disease.

Syndrome causing alcoholic dementia

The symptoms of two types of disorders, Korsakoff psychosis and Wernicke’s encephalopathy work together to create Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome as one of the syndromes causing alcohol-induced dementia. The syndromes of both of these disorders cause considerable damage to various parts of the human brain.


Alcohol-induced dementia is caused not only due to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome but also due to the weakening of the cells of the brain caused by a deficiency of thiamine or vitamin B1 or poor nutrition.

The deficiency of thiamine is a common issue among alcoholic people as it is excessively required to maintain proper functioning of brain cells. Brain cells can be damaged permanently due to consistent lack of thiamine.

Effect of alcoholic dementia on the Brain

The problem causing syndromes discussed above can damage various parts of your central nervous system. It can cause loss of cognitive and memory skills along with showing the symptoms of damage of nervous system like the symptoms of fabrication or confabulation that help in creating stories on the basis of one’s personal experiences.

Alcohol-induced dementia can also reduce your ability to learn even when other types of mental abilities work normally. It can sometimes cause changes in one’s personality due to a lack of cognitive skills.

Symptoms and signs of dementia

One of the earliest symptoms of dementia can be confusion along with the problems in the memory system. The sufferer may remember the events happened many years ago in detail but can forget the things happening a few minutes earlier.

If a person asks the same questions or tells the same story repeatedly then he can be suffering from the problem of dementia. It usually happens due to lack of recollecting the thing that happened some time back. For this reason, he repeats the same thing several times in a similar manner.

Along with losing memory power, they may lack the ability to reason properly, make witty remarks, play mental skill-based games and draw deductions correctly.

Symptoms of Wernicke encephalopathy

Loss of or confusion in metal skills. Lack in the coordination of muscles. Abnormal movement of eyes. Dropping eyelids. Double vision. Withdrawal symptoms of alcohol.

Symptoms of Korsakoff syndrome

Incapable of forming recent memories. Severe loss of memory. Hallucinations. Confabulation or ability to create stories.

Diagnosis of alcoholic dementia

The problem of alcohol-induced dementia can be diagnosed by examining the working of the muscular system and nervous system as it can damage the central nervous system of your body. These symptoms may include abnormal or decreased reflexes, abnormal movement of eyes, low temperature and blood pressure of the body, faster pulse rate, problem in coordination while walking and weakness in muscles.

If the problem is caused due to poor nourishment then it can be diagnosed through the level of Serum vitamin B1 and serum albumin and the activity of Transketolase found in red blood cells. Long-term abuse of alcohol can also increase the level of liver enzymes


Alcohol-induced dementia can be treated successfully if the treatment is started at an early stage. The patient can be treated effectively by improving his diet along with quitting alcohol if the problem is diagnosed at an early stage with mild effect on nerves and brain. But the complete restoration of cognitive functions may not be possible if Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is diagnosed.

The main aim of treating alcohol-induced dementia is to prevent the worsening of dementia along with controlling its symptoms. The use of vitamin B1 can improve the condition of delirium or confusion, lack of coordination in muscles, the problem in movement of eyes and vision but is can rarely improve the loss of intellect or memory caused by symptoms of Korsakoff psychosis.

Stopping the consumption of alcohol can also be one of the treatments of alcoholic dementia. It can help in preventing further damage to the nervous system and loss of the functioning of the brain.