Alcohol Addiction and
Abuse Related Disorders
addiction and abuse is known to affect cognitive functioning to a
large degree resulting in such alcohol induced disorders as alcohol
induced persisting dementia, alcohol induced persistent disorder,
alcohol induced psychotic disorder, alcohol induced mood disorder and
When individuals drink
heavily for a long period of time, there is frequently a progressive
and gradual development of multiple cognitive deficits characterized
by memory impairment, apraxia, agnosia, or disturbances in their
executive functioning. These memory problems are known to cause
serious impairment in social and occupational functioning and persist
well beyond the duration of alcohol intoxication and alcohol
withdrawal. History, physical examination, and other associated
laboratory tests should be utilized to determine whether these
deficits are causally related to the toxic effects of the alcohol
abuse. Other factors frequently associated with this condition are
poor nutritional status and related vitamin deficiencies, as well as a
history of head trauma. Some experts believe that this condition is
associated with the repeated occurrence of Wernicke’s encephalopathy.
Atrophy of the frontal lobes of the brain and increased ventricular
size have been described in this condition. Continuous alcohol abuse
exacerbates the dementia, while drinking cessation is usually
associated with improvement and some recovery from these cognitive
Persisting Amnestic Disorder:
abuse can also lead to various neurological deficits related to a
thiamine deficiency. Among them, alcohol induced persistent amnestic
disorder, also known as Kosakoff’s psychosis, may become prominent in
these individuals who abuse alcohol for a significant period of time.
Profound deficits in anterograde memory and some problems with
retrograde memory are known to characterize this condition.
Individuals may have difficulty retaining or learning new information,
and may even experience profound disorientation to time and place. The
severity of these anterograde memory deficits typically leads these
individuals suffering from Korsakoff’s psychosis to reconstruct the
forgotten events by confabulating. Korsakoff’s amnestic disorder is
frequently preceded by episodes of Wernicke’s encephalopathy
identified by such symptoms as confusion, ataxia, and gaze palsies.
When this condition begins to subside, the characteristic memory
deficits of Korsakoff’s psychosis than may become prominent.
Individuals who quit
drinking may have an improvement in memory, with approximately 20% of
the cases demonstrating complete recovery. However, in most cases,
memory problems remain unchanged and in many instances, long-term care
is needed despite an individual’s newfound sobriety.