How Alcohol Abuse Affects Memory

It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that alcohol abuse can lead to loss of memory, as most of us have experienced “memory gaps” after a night of heavy drinking at some point in our lives. However, if you continue to abuse your body with alcohol for a long enough time, your memory will eventually be permanently affected – and not just temporarily. To know more about what we are talking about here, read on.

Loss of Short-Term Memory

It isn’t uncommon to find people unable to remember the things they did or experienced after drinking heavily. Keep in mind that we are talking about things that they technically should have been able to remember because they had not passed out from overdrinking but were only inebriated. This is known as short-term memory loss and, most often, it’s a result of binge drinking. These blackouts can be divided into two subcategories, which are as follows.

  • Partial blackout – The person forgets some of the details but retains a general memory of the event
  • Complete Blackout – The person doesn’t remember anything and, therefore, the aforementioned gap in memory is created

If this becomes a regular scenario, the person in question will eventually start to develop permanent amnesia which will step into his/her daily life, even outside the periods of inebriation.

Long-Term Memory Loss

What makes alcohol so attractive is its ability to dull the senses, and that’s exactly why excess consumption of liquor eventually leads to permanent memory loss as well. Note that this is not the same as increased instances of temporary amnesia in binge drinkers that also may develop later on. Unlike worsening temporary amnesia where you forget details and incidents, even from your sober periods, long-term memory loss due to alcohol abuse refers to the gradual loss of things from the memories that you already had stored in your brain for a very long time. This could include the names and faces of people that you know.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

The Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome is found in people who are vitamin B1 deficient and all alcohol abusers tend to run low on vitamin B1 due to both the effects of the substance abuse and also a poor diet which often accompanies such addictions. The Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome causes permanent and irreparable damage to the brain, affecting cognitive functions and, especially, the memory. In fact, alcoholism is, at the moment, the number one reason for people developing the disease.

If you or someone you know is trying to recover from addiction, a rehabilitation center is the only way to do it because coming out of long-term alcohol addiction requires more than just willpower. In fact, gender-specific care is also quite essential and that’s why women should go to a drug rehab for women and the same goes for men.

Men and women have certain different psychological and physical constitutional aspects and must, therefore, be treated with gender-specific treatment procedures to see a better rate of success.

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