Chronic alcoholism inflicts progressively greater tolls on an addict, many of which can be cured through abstinence and treatment. However, some of the effects of alcohol addiction are permanent. Wet brain syndrome is just one such permanent consequence of alcohol abuse, and will accompany an affected alcoholic for the rest of their (sadly shortened) life, even if they otherwise recover from their addiction. Late-stage conditions can be terrifying reminders of the importance of maintaining one’s body and mind; by learning about the consequences of long-term alcoholism, you can take steps to make sure nobody has to suffer their effects.
What is Wet Brain?
“Wet brain” syndrome is a layman’s term which refers to Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which in turn, is a blanket term for two closely linked conditions: Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff syndrome (also commonly referred to as alcohol dementia or alcoholic encephalopathy).
Wernicke encephalopathy is caused by prolonged thiamine deficiency in the brain and manifests as a series of degenerative physical symptoms that can be reversed when treated promptly. Conversely, Korsakoff syndrome is far more serious—Korsakoff syndrome refers to a set of cognitive symptoms that can (but don’t always) set in some time after the onset of Wernicke encephalopathy. These symptoms, such as memory loss, are indicative of permanent brain damage. Both conditions are frequently overlooked by medical professionals, with most diagnoses occurring after death or by the process of elimination.
How to Recognize Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
The earliest symptoms of thiamine deficiency are primarily physiological but eventually devolve into Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, which causes permanent brain damage to the thalamus and hypothalamus. If detected early, patients oftentimes can make a full recovery—however, once cognitive symptoms set in, the odds of even a partial recovery drop significantly. Early recognition of the symptoms of wet brain syndrome (presented here in loose order of progression) could save a life.
- Loss of appetite or fatigue
- Muscle loss and weakness
- Vision changes and abnormal eye movements
- Leg tremors and staggering
- Memory loss
- Sudden confusion
- Lack of coordination
- Hallucinations and confabulation (creating false memories or making up stories)
- Comas or death
Treating Wet Brain Syndrome Before It’s Too Late
Treatment for wet brain syndrome is primarily symptomatic, focusing on restoring thiamine levels in the body and preventing further brain damage. Unfortunately, encephalopathy cannot be cured—however, the progression of the condition can be halted if the victim stops drinking and seeks treatment immediately. Although symptomatic treatment of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome can relieve certain symptoms, such as twitches and confusion, the most important part of the recovery process is abstinence from alcohol to prevent symptoms from devolving further.
Normal Tennessee 12 step programs can struggle to consistently help chronic alcoholics recover; Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, in particular, is oftentimes accompanied by other serious physical and mental health issues. For severe cases like these, a Long-Term Drug and Alcohol Addiction Recovery Program in Tennessee minimizes the risk of relapse. Discovery Place’s alternative treatment center can help with any alcohol addiction, ensuring that those with wet brain syndrome make as much of a recovery as possible. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, contact us at 1-800-725-0922 to discuss your options and see how a long term recovery plan could help you. We are available at any time of day to answer your questions with the utmost compassion and professionalism.