Alcohol-related brain damage (including Korsakoff's syndrome)

What is Korsakoff's syndrome?

Learn more about Frontotemporal dementia

Alcohol-related brain damage (ARBD) is a brain disorder caused by regularly drinking too much alcohol over several years. The term ARBD covers several different conditions including Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and alcoholic dementia. None of these is actually a dementia, but they may share similar symptoms. However, in contrast to common causes of dementia such as Alzheimer's disease, most people with ARBD who receive good support and remain alcohol-free make a full or partial recovery. In addition, there is a good possibility that their condition will not worsen.

Patterns of drinking in Great Britain have changed over the past 10 years. Middle-aged people are now the age group which consumes the most alcohol and they are drinking more than in the past, especially middle-aged women. In contrast, younger people (aged 16-24) are now drinking less, particularly when it comes to binge drinking. Against this background, ARBD is an under-recognised and growing problem.

This page outlines the causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of ARBD. It also gives practical tips for carers on supporting someone with the condition.