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Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and Alcohol

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and Alcohol

As cases of alcohol abuse and binge drinking continue to rise, health conditions, like Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, are becoming more common.

According to the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System Survey, more than half of the adults in the U.S. drank alcohol in the past 30 days, 16% of the adult population participated in binge drinking, and 7% admitted to heavy drinking.1

At our rehab facility in Pompano Beach, we provide treatment for various forms of addiction. We understand that Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and alcohol go hand-in-hand, and other health issues can result from alcohol abuse. Our dedicated staff of professionals works hard to provide the safest and most effective forms of addiction treatment.

What is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome?

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a brain disorder caused by a lack of vitamin B1, or thiamine. Korsakoff syndrome and Wernicke encephalopathy often occur together because both result from a lack of vitamin B1. Wernicke encephalopathy causes damage to the areas of the brain called the thalamus and hypothalamus. The thalamus is in charge of sending motor and sensory signals to the cerebral cortex, and the hypothalamus connects the nervous system to the endocrine system through the pituitary gland.2 Korsakoff syndrome results from any damage to the areas of the brain that control memory.

Some symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome include:3

  • Confusion
  • Lack of cognitive function (or inability to think or learn)
  • Loss of motor skills (ataxia)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low body temperature
  • Abnormal eye movement (nystagmus)
  • Inability to create new memories
  • Memory loss
  • Making up stories or memories (confabulation)
  • Hallucinations

Individuals struggling with alcohol abuse can avoid health conditions and disorders like Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome by starting their addiction treatment with an alcohol detox.

The Connection Between Alcoholism and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and alcohol abuse are, unfortunately, a common pair. Binge drinking can disrupt how your body absorbs thiamine or vitamin B1. Alcohol prevents your gastrointestinal tract from absorbing the vitamin and prevents your liver from storing it. The brain and body struggle to function because of the lack of thiamine.

At Banyan Treatment Centers, we understand how Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and alcohol are connected and how you can avoid it. We advise people who have developed a drug or alcohol addiction to seek immediate addiction treatment. At our Gilman rehab center, we provide a safe and comfortable place where our patients can receive alcohol addiction treatment and establish a long-term plan for sobriety.

If you or a loved one need drug or alcohol addiction treatment, get help now. Call us now at 888-280-4763to start your recovery journey.


  1. CDC- Data on Excessive Drinking
  2. NA- Thalamus
  3. NIH- Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome and Alcohol
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