Alcohol and Brain Damage

Often referred to as

Alcohol-Related Brain Injury – ARBI

How does alcohol damage the brain ?

Dehydration – long standing dehydration causes cell death

Toxicity – Alcohol has toxic effect on all organs

Malnutrition – reduced healthy diet deprives the brain of essential nutrients and energy

Vomiting – reduce amount of vitamins and minerals stored in the body, disrupting brain function

Stomach and Intestine damage – reduced absorption of nutrients from food

Liver Damage – Prevents body breaking down toxins, leading to accumulation of toxins in body and brain

Vitamin B1 ( Thiamine) depletion – combined alcohol, poor diet and poor nutrient absorption – > reduced thiamine -> poor ability to convert food to energy -> reduced brain functioning

Withdrawal – Body and brain needs thiamine to help withdraw safely: repeated withdrawals or detoxes without enough thiamine causes serious damage to brain

Reduced repair – excess alcohol can stop or slow down new brain cell growth, preventing damage repair when using alcohol

Most commonly¬† known form of ARBI : Wernicke-Korsakofff’s syndrome

Consists of two separate, but related conditions:

Wernicke’s Encephalopathy or ‘thiamine encephalopathy’ – cognitive deficits but not profound memory impairment

Korsakoff Amnesic Syndrome – profound memory impairment


Sent to Nest by kindness of Mr. Micheal Oddy, MA, MSc, PhD, FBPsp, ( Fellow of the British Psychological Society )