Blog - Beach House Rehab Center
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December 27, 2021

What Is Wet Brain?

Long-term, heavy drinking causes a constellation of physical and mental health issues, including organ and tissue damage, a weakened immune system and malnutrition. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, also known as “wet brain,” is the name for a severe vitamin B1 deficiency often seen in people who have developed an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. What does this condition entail, and how can you recognize its signs in yourself or a loved one? 

The Relationship Between Substance Abuse and Poor Health

Addiction is an unhealthy lifestyle habit that goes hand in hand with inconsistent eating patterns, lack of exercise and sleep disruptions. These compounding factors result in an increased risk of long-term health problems, including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, hypertension, weight fluctuations and eating disorders.

Over time, substance abuse will harm your digestive system, hindering your body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals from the meals you eat. Even if you watch what you eat, addiction can rob you of the nourishment you need to stay healthy. 

At Beach House, many of our clients enter treatment with severe malnutrition. For instance, vitamin B1, or thiamine, is typically deficient in people with an alcohol use disorder, due to a combination of irresponsible dietary choices and inflammation in the digestive tract. Sources of vitamin B1 in a balanced diet include foods like beans and whole grains. 

Understanding Wet Brain

Wet brain is a degenerative health issue that affects the thalamus and hypothalamus, which play essential roles in regulating your body’s equilibrium. The condition consists of two distinct, overlapping disorders.

  • Wernicke encephalopathy is an acute phase characterized by confusion, discoordination and eye abnormalities. It may be possible to treat these symptoms with early intervention.
  • Korsakoff syndrome is a long-lasting or permanent condition associated with memory loss or the inability to retain new information.

Confusion and disorientation are the primary calling cards of Wernicke syndrome. In this phase of wet brain, people may become lethargic, drowsy or indifferent, or have trouble standing and walking without help. Delirium may also occur, especially when people try to quit drinking without medical support. Ocular issues and vision changes linked to Wernicke syndrome include double vision, involuntary eye movements, eyelid drooping or muscle paralysis.

A high percentage of people with Wernicke encephalopathy go on to develop Korsakoff syndrome, also known as alcoholic dementia. Hallmarks of Korsakoff syndrome include amnesia, hallucinations, behavioral changes and making up stories to fill in confusing memory gaps. Without treatment, wet brain will gradually worsen, leading to permanent effects such as memory loss and a shorter lifespan.

Treatment for Wet Brain and Alcohol Abuse

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is potentially reversible with early medical intervention, which typically includes taking high-dose thiamine supplements via intravenous or intramuscular injections. After conducting health screenings, your doctor may also prescribe other vitamins and minerals your body is deficient in. 

Successfully healing from wet brain will also require you to adopt an alcohol-free lifestyle, which you may have trouble accomplishing without help. Addiction’s chronic nature makes it challenging to stop drinking, even when you know how much you’re harming yourself and others. Committing to sobriety means addressing your illness at its root with a combination of evidence-based therapies, combined with nutrition, exercise and spirituality for holistic wellness.

What to Expect at Beach House 

Beach House provides a tranquil setting where adult women and men can renew their lives. We have intentionally created a safe, comfortable retreat for our clients to address every aspect of their health and well-being, providing a complete continuum of care from comfortable detox to long-term treatment and aftercare.

To learn more about our clinically excellent program offerings and how they can help you find freedom from substance abuse and co-occurring disorders, we invite you to reach out anytime. Our experienced admissions counselors are here 24/7 to take your confidential call and help you start your recovery journey with us.