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The Connection Between Alcohol and Memory Loss

The consequences associated with excessive alcohol consumption can be severe. Among the related effects is memory loss, which can be both short and long-term. It is not uncommon for a person to experience a “blackout” during a night of excessive drinking. They wake up unsure of what happened the night before, experiencing a blank spot in their memory. Alcohol-induced memory loss can also be long-term. Those who drink excessively for a prolonged period of time are more likely to suffer memory loss later on in life. 

At Enlightened Solutions, we thoroughly understand the link between alcohol and memory loss. Furthermore, we believe that with the right tools and resources, even the most severe cases of alcohol use disorder can be successfully overcome. Our team of highly experienced professionals works together to develop personalized treatment plans. These treatment plans identify and treat unique areas of concern, taking a closer look at the consequences of alcohol misuse and developing a plan of action to address them.

If you or someone you love has suffered memory loss due to excessive alcohol consumption, help is available. Contact us directly to learn more about our program for alcohol addiction recovery or to begin your journey of long-term healing. 

How Alcohol Addiction Can Lead to Memory Loss

Alcohol can significantly impact cognitive function and memory. When too much alcohol is consumed, both short and long-term memory loss is sustained. People who engage in binge drinking are more likely to experience alcohol-induced blackouts. Alternatively, people who engage in long-term heavy drinking are more likely to suffer irreversible cognitive damage and memory loss over time. 

Fortunately, most memory-related issues can be reversed when longer-term sobriety is maintained. However, it can be difficult for a person to quit drinking heavily without some degree of professional help — especially if they have developed a physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. The good news is, Enlightened Solutions is available to help. Our multi-staged recovery program begins with medically monitored detoxification and continues with the next appropriate level of clinical care. Contact us directly to learn more about our alcohol addiction treatment program. 

Short-Term Memory Loss

Short-term memory loss is a common issue among heavy drinkers. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines a blackout as “gaps in a person’s memory for events that occurred while they were intoxicated. These gaps happen when a person drinks enough alcohol to temporarily block the transfer of memories from short-term to long-term storage—known as memory consolidation—in a brain area called the hippocampus.” 

For most, the risk of blackout begins when the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches 0.16% or higher. When a person’s BAC reaches this level, their cognitive functioning declines significantly. They have poor impulse control, a lack of coordination, reduced inhibitions, and a decreased ability to make self-serving decisions. 

Long-Term Memory Loss 

Long-term memory loss typically develops as the result of chronic, long-term drinking. There is a distinct connection between excessive drinking and steady cognitive decline, including early-onset dementia. Symptoms associated with alcohol-related dementia include:

  • Difficulty completing day-to-day tasks or carrying out standard obligations. 
  • A loss of memory, which is often marked by confusion and disorientation. 
  • Sudden and noticeable changes in mood. 
  • Feelings of irritability, frustration, and agitation. 

A study conducted by the National Library of Medicine titled Alcohol-Related Dementia: An Update of the Evidence states, “It is well established that excessive and prolonged alcohol use can lead to permanent damage to the structure and function of the brain. Autopsy evaluations suggest that up to 78% of individuals with diagnosed alcoholism demonstrate some degree of brain pathology. Neuroimaging and neuropathological evidence show prominent white matter loss (most notable in the prefrontal cortex, corpus callosum, and cerebellum) and neuronal loss in the superior frontal association cortex, hypothalamus, and cerebellum.” 

Essentially, individuals who drink heavily for months or years at a time are significantly more susceptible to declined cognitive functioning. Fortunately, the majority of damage done to the brain can be reversed when sobriety is maintained. 

The Connection Between Alcohol and Memory Loss  

The connection between alcohol and memory loss is clear-cut and evidence-based. In addition to short-term memory loss caused by binge drinking and long-term memory loss caused by excessive and prolonged alcohol consumption, additional memory-related issues can arise. Korsakoff Syndrome, for example, is common among heavy drinkers and those with moderate or severe alcohol use disorders. 

The Alzheimer’s Association defines Korsakoff Syndrome as “ a chronic memory disorder caused by severe deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B-1). Korsakoff syndrome is most commonly caused by alcohol misuse, but certain other conditions also can cause the syndrome.” 

Chronic alcoholics are also at risk of developing a serious condition called “wet brain” or Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. It is possible to reverse the effects of wet brain syndrome when it is caught and treated early on. However, the symptoms of this serious and potentially fatal illness can be irreversible. 

Why Is Treatment Important?

When a person successfully stops drinking, the physical effects of alcoholism begin to reverse. Healing is generally a slow process that occurs slowly over months or years. Unfortunately, some individuals who drink heavily end up damaging their brains irreparably. Because alcohol use disorder is a chronic and progressive condition, treating it as early as possible leads to the highest chance of recovery. At Enlightened Solutions, we believe it is never too soon to begin an alcohol addiction recovery journey. 

We offer several distinct levels of care geared towards helping individuals overcome alcohol addiction and fully recover from the negative effects of alcohol use. The levels of care we provide include:

  • Medical Detoxification 
  • Residential Treatment 
  • Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment (IOP)
  • Outpatient Treatment (OP)
  • Personalized Aftercare Planning 

Contact Us Today to Begin Your Recovery Journey 

If you or someone you love is interested in learning more about our New Jersey alcohol addiction treatment program, we are here to help. We understand how intimidating reaching out for help can be. Our team of compassionate and experienced staff members have been where you are now. We are available to guide you through the admissions process from a place of personal knowledge. We look forward to speaking with you soon and helping you begin your personal alcohol addiction recovery journey. Contact us today to begin!

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