Alzheimer’s and Alcohol Dependence

A study published in Alcohol & Alcoholism has found a significant link between the use of alcohol and the rate of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease.

“Alcohol use, misuse and dependence cause cognitive impairment. We propose alcohol adds to the cognitive burden seen in dementia through additional mechanisms to neurodegenerative processes” (1).

alzheimersFor a while, the focus on the connection between alcohol dependence and misuse was mostly addressing neuronal loss, the role of thiamine (also known as vitamin B1 which is often lacking in alcoholics), and the toxic effects of alcohol. In recent years, there have been more studies on the link between alcohol dependence and progressive mental illnesses such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The findings of the study indicate that alcohol adds to the already heavy cognitive burden that people with severe mental illnesses have. Many ACOAs won’t find this result surprising, but it is a stepping stone for further research into  some of the more serious effects of alcoholism on the brain in the long-term.


(1) Ashwin Venkataraman, Nicola Kalk, Gavin Sewell, Craig W. Ritchie, Anne Lingford-Hughes; Alcohol and Alzheimer’s Disease—Does Alcohol Dependence Contribute to Beta-Amyloid Deposition, Neuroinflammation and Neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s Disease?. Alcohol Alcohol 2017; 52 (2): 151-158. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agw092

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