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Alcohol Addiction and Abuse Related Disorders


alcohol addiction and AbuseAlcohol 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 various others.

Alcohol Induced Persisting Dementia:

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 problems.


Alcohol Induced Persisting Amnestic Disorder:

Continuous alcohol 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.

Adapted from DSM-IV-TR Mental Disorders: Diagnosis, Etiology and Treatment by Michael B. First and Allan Tasman

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic  MA Licensed Psychologist   Ph.D. Candidate  (Health and Geriatric Psychologist)

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