Drinking alcohol impacts mental equilibrium- Part 4: Alcohol-related brain impairment

Alcohol is one of the commonly abused substances in the United States. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), approximately 24.7 percent of adults in 2014 reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month while 6.7 percent reported that they engaged in heavy drinking in the past month.

Abusing alcohol leads to a number of behavioral, physical and mental issues. From being a major cause of aggression, agitation to compulsive behavior and impulsivity, the substance makes an individual experience delirium, nausea, anxiety and several other health complications.

Alcohol has a major impact on an individual’s mental health, making the person lethargic and incapable of performing even routine tasks. One of the major consequences of abusing alcohol over a long period of time is alcohol-related brain impairment (ARBI) or alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD).

As a concluding article of our series, “Drinking alcohol impacts mental equilibrium” that aims to help you understand the relationship between alcohol and different types of mental illness, we share with you the details about how alcohol abuse leads to ARBI.

What is ARBI?

ARBI is a brain disorder that results from excessive alcohol consumption over a long period of time. However, it can also affect an individual who drinks excessively but for a short period of time (also known as binge drinking or heavy episodic drinking). This condition leads to long-term decline in memory or thinking caused by excessive alcohol use and a lack of vitamin B1 (thiamine), which provides energy to the body and is essential for proper functioning of the brain and the nerve cells.

Symptoms and causes of ARBI

An excessive consumption of alcohol affects the human brain and in turn, causes ARBI. Alcohol is a toxin that damages the nerve cells, causes several chemical changes in the brain and also leads to shrinking of the brain tissue.

The deficiency of thiamine caused due to excessive alcohol consumption also leads to ARBI as it begins to interfere with the way the body stores and handles the vitamin. Abusing alcohol can result in increased head injuries due to falls or accidents, which, in turn, can further cause memory impairment.

An individual with ARBI experiences a number of problems such as impaired judgment, poor vision, social withdrawal, depression, reduced motivation, distractibility, attentional and impulse control deficits. He/she may also experience difficulty in learning new things, maintaining focus, recollecting things from the past, remembering the schedule of events and numerous others.

Ways to help individuals with ARBI

While individuals with ARBI might behave unusually, there are simple ways in which their friends or relatives can help them. Some of the ways in which someone can support an individual suffering from ARBI are:

  • Helping them stay alcohol-free
  • Supporting them to stay positive and complete their tasks
  • Inspiring them to keep a diary and maintaining a daily routine
  • Breaking down complex tasks which are easier to accomplish
  • Recapping entire conversations to help them remember
  • Encouraging them to eat a balanced diet and consume food products that contain thiamine such as avocados, baked potatoes (skin on), leafy green vegetables and fish
  • Encouraging them to get enough sleep

Get help today from alcohol addiction

Addiction to alcohol is injurious and can prove hazardous to an individual’s personal, professional and social life. Therefore, one should learn to consume it in moderate quantity so that he/she does not develop addiction to it. In case you know someone who is addicted to alcohol and needs help, contact the Florida Alcohol Addiction Helpline. You may call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-220-5381 or chat online to know about the best centers offering alcohol addiction treatment in Florida.

Read the articles of the series “Drinking alcohol impacts mental equilibrium”:

  1. Relationship between alcohol and mental health
  2. Link between alcohol and depression
  3. Alcohol can severely impact anxiety