Alcohol-related brain damage, a condition similar to dementia, is poorly understood and often missed by health professionals, astudyby charity Alcohol Change UK says.
And patients struggling with the “double stigma” of brain impairment and alcohol addiction often end up in accident and emergency units because of a lack of community services.
The condition affects balance and makes it difficult for patients to process new information. They can also become confused and experience memory loss.
At its most basic, the injury is caused by damage to brain cells from alcohol, which causes them to shrink and die or deprives them of vital vitamins.
A man who drinks more than 50 units of alcohol a week, or a woman drinking more than 35 units, for five years or more is at risk of the disease, Alcohol Change says.
“You’re talking about a condition that’s the result of long-term heavy drinking, which a lot of people are going to say, ‘Well someone’s done that themselves, it’s his own fault,'” Andrew Misell, from Alcohol Change UK, said.