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Effects of alcohol on the brain

First the effects of alcohol on the actual brain

The evidence of alcohol affecting the brain are difficulty walking, blurred vision, slurred speech, slow reaction time and impaired memory. Clearly, alcohol affects the brain. Some of these impairments are detectable after one or two drinks and can be resolved after a few hours of non drinking. Yet a person who drinks heavily over a long period of time may have brain deficits that persist well after they have achieved sobriety.

Brain damage

Folks who have been drinking large amounts of alcohol for long periods of time have the risk of developing serious and persistent changes in the brain. The damage can be a result of direct effects of alcohol or indirect from poor general health related to liver disease, a topic for a later discussion. Thiamine also known as vitamin B1 is an essential nutrient required by all tissues and the brain. Thiamine is found in meat, poultry; whole grains cereals; nuts; and dried beans, peas, and soybean.The recommended daily allowance is 1.2 mg/day for men and 1.1 mg/day for woman.

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome

80 percent of alcoholics have thiamine deficiency and will go on to develop serious brain disorders such as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. WKS is a disease that has two separate syndromes, a short-lived and severe condition called Wernicke’s encephalopathy and a long-lasting and debilitating condition known as Korsakoff’s psychosis. Wernicke’s include mental confusion, paralysis of the nerves that move the eyes and difficulty with muscle coordination. 80 to 90 percent of those with Wernicke’s also develop Korsakoff’s psychosis and they are forgetful and quickly frustrated and have a difficulty with walking and coordination. There are a several other brain damaging conditions like wet brain syndrome and organic brain syndrome that are also attributed to long term alcohol abuse.


Alcoholics are not all the same. They exhibit different levels of impairment but the good news is that after a year of abstinence they show significant improvement in brain function . I want to point out that even if you are a light to moderate drinker supplementing here and there with thiamine will help.

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Written by Jaime Rivera

Loving husband and father. Certified in Holistic and Intergrative Health with 20 years in the health care industry. Jaime River is a contributor with focuse on Faith, Health, Politics and their impact on our overall well being.


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