If you are a heavy drinker or are unable to stop drinking, you may have more to worry about than potential liver problems and other known health concerns. According to the results of a recent study, people with alcohol use disorders also have a greater risk of developing dementia.
What is Dementia?
Dementia is a prevalent condition that impacts as many as seven percent of all adults ages 60 and over. Although many people associate dementia with Alzheimer’s disease, that is just one form of the condition. Encompassed in the term are several conditions that can cause cognitive impairments, memory loss, and changes in social function. The symptoms of dementia include:
- Memory loss
- Difficulty communicating
- Changes in motor function or coordination
- Confusion or disorientation
- Changes in personality
- Anxiety or depression
- Trouble reasoning or solving problems
- Inappropriate behavior
- Agitation or paranoia
- Personality changes
The Link Between Alcohol Use Disorder and Dementia
Certain known risk factors exist for dementia such as smoking, depression, and aging, but the role of alcohol has been in question until now. A recent study published in Lancet Public Health appears to establish a link between alcohol use disorder and early-onset dementia, which is the development of this disorder before the age of 65.
The study took data from the French National Hospital Discharge database, which keeps information about hospital admissions, including the reason for admission, treatment received, and patient demographics. Researchers analyzed the records of patients who were over the age of 20 and were diagnosed with “alcohol-related brain damage” or other types of dementia. The size of the study group was over one million people, and five percent were cases of early-onset dementia.
Of the dementia cases found in the study, researchers concluded that approximately three percent were attributable to alcohol use. However, the early-onset dementia cases had a much higher percentage. Researchers found that 40 percent of these cases were linked to alcohol-related brain damage and 18 percent suffered from other alcohol use disorders.
Why this link between alcohol abuse and dementia exists has been studied in the past. It has been shown that consuming large quantities of alcohol can prevent neurons from regenerating, so they die. This can happen at any age, but it is becoming increasingly common in middle-aged and older adults. A study released in 2013 found that 78 percent of people diagnosed with alcohol use disorder also showed some degree of brain pathology.
Get Addiction Treatment Help for Alcohol Use Disorder
Dementia, whether early-onset or not, is just one of the multitude of problems that you might face if you are addicted to alcohol. Alcoholism is a serious condition that can not only damage your body and mind but also your close relationships and future. The best way to overcome this chronic disease is to get help through detox and then a comprehensive rehabilitation program.
At The Recovery Village, we have medical professionals, counselors, and therapists who are ready to offer specialized support and care that is designed to end the suffering caused by addiction. Contact us now to learn about admissions and find out how you can safeguard your future health and begin your program of recovery as soon as possible.