When a person abuses alcohol for a prolonged period of time, it can begin to have a damaging effect on multiple parts of the body. Common examples include liver disease, high blood pressure, and even certain forms of cancer. One particular condition serves as an almost symbolic reminder of the aspects of intoxication, even when drinking has ceased. Banyan military & veterans in recovery explores the dangers, signs, and symptoms of wet brain syndrome.
What Is Wet Brain?
Also known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, the condition is a type of brain damage that can be both severe and life-threatening. Wet brain and alcohol are considered to be closely correlated. After drinking excessively and continually for a long duration of time, the brain will eventually be manipulated on a physical level. This condition comprises two characteristic phases: Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s psychosis.
What Is Wernicke’s Encephalopathy?
This is a short-term neurological condition that is the result of prolonged and excessive drinking. There are three symptoms that serve as hallmarks of the condition:
- Dysfunctional eye movements and other disturbances to the person’s vision
- A sense of apathy or visible confusion
- Loss of coordination when attempting to stand or walk
It is important to remember that to be diagnosed with Wernicke’s encephalopathy, a person does not have to exhibit all of these symptoms. Vitamin B1 is necessary for the proper functioning of the brain, and the deficiency of thiamine is what causes this condition.
Korsakoff’s psychosis is a chronic, persistent condition that can lead to serious impairment of a person's memory and concentration. This form of neuropsychiatric dementia is experienced by nearly 80% to 90% of people who abuse alcohol. It is believed to be the result of a mistreated case of Wernicke’s encephalopathy, and whether it was not cared for quickly enough or effectively can play a major part.
Characteristics of this disease include hallucinations, behavioral changes, and amnesia. The latter is likely the result of damage caused to the areas of the brain responsible for memory control. Additionally, affected individuals could only exhibit symptoms like apathy, and irritability, amongst other visible mood changes, and still be living with this disorder.
Wet Brain From Alcoholism
In the United States, the primary cause of Korsakoff psychosis is alcoholism. Due to chronic alcohol abuse, malnutrition, and malabsorption, a serious lack of B-1 (thiamine) is often the result. Therefore, since there is a lack of vitamin B-1, the body is unable to generate energy from nutrients in large amounts. The growth and development of cells in the brain and body begin to decrease.
Absorption is not as easily completed when people suffer from alcohol dependence. The body needs to absorb thiamine by passing through the gastrointestinal tract to be transported to the tissue of the body, and this process becomes complex when large amounts of alcohol are in the body’s system. Additionally, when this happens, thiamine is not being utilized and formulated properly in the brain.
What Are the Symptoms of Wet Brain Syndrome?
Wet brain symptoms are similar to those of being intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol. This adds to the danger that consistent alcohol abuse can cause. If someone is already always visibly drunk, it could make it less likely that this disorder is even recognized at all. Essentially, if you can’t tell if someone is drunk or genuinely sick, that alone highlights a very real problem.
The condition causes memory and learning impairment. It is important for those facing addiction to receive alcohol addiction treatment to avoid getting wet brain from alcohol, especially as they get older. Many elderly people are susceptible to chronic memory loss, and being consistently intoxicated in their youth can absolutely play a part.
Symptoms of wet brain include:
- Leg tremors
- Vision changes
- Changes in mood
- Severe confusion
- Balance problems
- Abnormal eye movements
There are a few other reasons that someone develops wet brain, such as diabetes, anorexia, pregnancy, or a poor diet. As mentioned, alcohol abuse is a major cause of brain damage. Signs of wet brain begin appearing after drinking alcohol continually and in large amounts.
Can Wet Brain Be Reversed?
Yes and no. Although this condition isn’t necessarily curable, early detection can be a game-changer. What is important to consider is the severity of the symptoms, how quickly treatment begins, and the type of care that is given. To treat Wernicke’s encephalopathy, patients can increase the intake of thiamine. This can be done by adjusting their diet to include more B1, as well as taking vitamin supplements. Thiamine is intended to aid in addressing the confusion and delirium caused by wet brain, while different medications could be necessary to treat other symptoms.
Remember, this kind of brain damage can’t be reversed, only treated and minimized. It highlights the critical importance of seeking out professional help before it even gets to this troubling point. Being vigilant of consistent symptoms is extremely important, and if someone is getting drunk so often that it isn't possible to tell, something needs to be done.
Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Our Military Rehab Center
Wet brain symptoms are commonly found to be an ongoing issue with active duty or veterans due to the commonality of using alcohol as a coping mechanism or distraction. Many individuals, especially veterans, will return home and have difficulty adapting to social standards and everyday life. Alcohol and other substances are abused to help these brave men and women forget their possibly traumatic experiences or to deal with anxiety or depression.
Our military rehab center offers an excellent alcohol addiction treatment program to help patients recover from mental illness and substance abuse. We want you to avoid wet brain syndrome or overdose by receiving professional help early and undergoing unique therapeutic methods. Our levels of care provide medically monitored detox programs so patients can safely get through the withdrawal process.