Alcoholism is still a major problem in the United States today. The Center for Disease Control estimates that approximately 88,000 people die each year as a direct result of excessive alcohol intake. (1) Sadly, this is even more deaths than those caused yearly by drug overdoses. (2)
The reality is, despite being legal; alcohol is a truly deadly substance for those who suffer from alcoholism. Here we take a look at a specific alcohol-related illness commonly known as “wet brain”.
What is Wet Brain?
Wet brain is the slang term for a disorder known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is actually two separate disorders that often occur at the same time, one known as Wernicke’s disease and the other as Korsakoff syndrome. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is a degenerative brain disorder that is caused by thiamine (Vitamin B1) deficiency. (3)
What causes wet brain?
The most common cause of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is chronic alcohol use. Alcohol decreases the absorption of Vitamin B1 from the gastrointestinal tract.
To make matters worse, most chronic alcoholics have a poor diet to begin with. This leads to a Vitamin B1 deficiency in chronic alcoholics, which often times results in Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. (4)
What are the signs and symptoms of wet brain?
The signs and symptoms of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome can be broken up into the two respective disorders. The symptoms of Wernicke’s disease usually occur first, and include the following (5):
- Double vision
- Drooping upper eyelids
- Sporadic eye movements
- Difficulty walking, related to poor muscle coordination
Korsakoff syndrome typically develops after Wernicke’s disease, and includes the following symptoms (5):
- Amnesia (memory loss)
- Difficulty processing information
- Speech difficulties
Is it possible to treat wet brain?
Treatment for Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome should be done immediately. Treatment usually involves replacing the Vitamin B1 in the individual immediately. This can reverse some of the neurological issues associated with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. If left untreated, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is eventually fatal. (3) (5)
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783 or visit us online.