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Alcoholism and Memory Loss

a man holds the bridge of his nose as he considers alcoholism and memory loss as well as alcohol and mental health

Alcohol use comes with a variety of potential problems. Those problems include disruption of your normal memory functions. You can run into trouble even if you never develop alcoholism. However, alcoholism can lead to even more severe memory-related issues. In a worst-case scenario, your memory may be permanently damaged. Fortunately, alcohol addiction treatment can help you avoid such a severe outcome. It can also help you recover from the many other effects of alcoholism. To learn more about the combination of alcohol and memory loss, please reach out to Northpoint Colorado today.

Alcohol and Mental Health: Short-Term Memory Loss

An area of your brain called the hippocampus plays a crucial role in your ability to form memories. Excessive drinking temporarily interferes with this area’s basic function. Problems usually begin when you reach a blood alcohol level of 0.16. This is twice the level that defines legal drunkenness.

Memory loss in these circumstances is commonly known as a blackout. Two types of blackouts are possible – fragmentary and en-bloc blackouts.

In a fragmentary blackout, you partially lose your memory of what happened to you while drunk. However, the memories you retain are isolated amid gaps of missing time. In an en-bloc blackout, you experience complete amnesia while drunk. This amnesia can last for hours. Typically, you won’t ever be able to recall what happened during that time.

Anyone who drinks an excessive amount can experience a blackout. This is true whether or not you have diagnosable symptoms of alcoholism. Still, experts consider even a single blackout to be a potential indicator of serious problems.

Alcoholism and Memory Loss: Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

People affected by alcoholism may experience frequent blackouts. They may also eventually develop something called Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. This is the name for a brain disorder that includes two distinct conditions. The first condition is Wernicke encephalopathy, and the second is Korsakoff syndrome.

Issues begin when heavy alcohol use and poor nutritional habits disrupt your supply of vitamin B1 or thiamine. Your brain needs thiamine to function normally. If you are chronically deficient, the result may be significant brain damage.

Wernicke encephalopathy typically occurs before Korsakoff syndrome. It produces a range of serious problems. However, it does not directly affect your memory. On the other hand, Korsakoff syndrome damages your memory function in multiple ways. Specific issues can include:

  • Moderate to severe memory loss
  • Loss of the ability to make new memories
  • False memories that take the place of actual memories

Without medical care, you can die from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. As a rule, the syndrome’s effects on your memory are permanent. This means that stopping them from progressing is essential.

How Alcohol Treatment Can Help

Sobriety is critical in preventing alcoholism-related memory problems. It’s also crucial for stopping existing problems from growing worse. Formal treatment is recommended for everyone affected by alcoholism.

Recovery from alcoholism starts in supervised detox, which can help you stop your alcohol use safely. It continues in primary alcohol rehab. Rehab gives you the tools you need to stay sober long-term. You may need inpatient treatment to support your recovery. However, some people can reach their goals as outpatients.

Seek Help for Alcoholism and Memory Loss at Northpoint Colorado

Want to learn more about alcohol and mental health? Contact the professionals at Northpoint Colorado. We’ll be happy to explain how heavy drinking can harm your memory. Northpoint Colorado is also your source for quality alcohol treatment. We feature both detox and primary alcohol rehab. With our help, you can smoothly transition from one to the other.

Northpoint Colorado offers a choice of settings for alcohol treatment. No matter your situation, we have a program suited to your needs. To learn more about our recovery options, call us today at 888.231.1281. We’re also available through our online form.