Physical effects of Alcohol Abuse

Wernicke – Korsakoff’s syndrome

Being alcohol dependent may lead to poor eating habits. Alcohol dependent persons often report lack of appetite or inability to keep food down. In addition, prolonged alcohol use may lead to ulcers in the stomach and makes it difficult to eat any food let alone to keep to a healthy diet. Moreover, excessive drinking leads to the body being unable to absorb vitamin B1 and also known as thiamine. This leads to a condition called Wernicke- Korsakoff syndrome, also known as wet brain.

Brain Damage

Wernicke’s encephalopathy and Korsakoff’s syndrome are conditions that both occur due to brain damage and is caused by a lack of vitamin B1 (thiamine). Korsakoff’s syndrome or Korsakoff psychosis tends to develop after Wernicke’s encephalopathy. Moreover, this causes brain damage in the lower parts of the brain and the thalamus and the hypothalamus.

This usually develops suddenly. However, the main symptoms are involuntary, jerky eye movements or paralysis of muscles moving the eyes; poor balance; staggering gait or inability to walk; drowsiness and confusion. It also can cause changes in personality, for instance at one extreme a person may show apathy, or at the other they may become overly talkative and repetitive.


Korsakoff’s syndrome is a more advanced stage of Wernicke’s encephalopathy. Moreover, this syndrome develops gradually if it is not treated immediately. The symptoms of the syndrome include difficulty in taking in new information, learning new skills, and inventing events to fill the gaps in memory. Most salient and common symptoms of the syndrome is memory loss, especially of events arising after the start of the condition, though distant memories can also be affected.

Wet Brain

The mortality rate for Wernicke’s – Korsakoff’s syndrome is about 20%. Rapid treatment leads to full mental recovery for around 20%, a recovery from ataxia (poor balance, co ordination and speech) for 40%, and recovery from irregular eye movement for about 60 %. (

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