Symptoms of alcohol-related dementia, also known as Korsakoff syndrome, include difficulty learning new information, long-term memory gaps and the inability to remember recent events. Some individuals with Korsakoff syndrome might also make up information to substitute for factual information they are unable to recall, according to the Alzheimer's Association.
Korsakoff syndrome is caused by a severe vitamin B-1 deficiency. This deficiency causes a biochemical imbalance in the brain that destroys brain cells involved in memory storage and retrieval, according to the Alzheimer's Association. Korsakoff syndrome also causes microscopic bleeding and scar tissue in the brain.
Korsakoff syndrome is diagnosed with a medical examination, although there is no lab test designed to screen for this disease. This form of dementia can often be treated with thiamine supplements. Most sufferers also benefit from giving up alcohol. However, about 25 percent of people with Korsakoff syndrome never recover from the disease, states the Alzheimer's Association.
While alcohol abuse is the most common cause, eating disorders, weight loss surgery, AIDS and widespread cancer can all cause Korsakoff syndrome. Kidney dialysis, infection and poor nutrition are other triggers of Korsakoff syndrome, according to the Alzheimer's Association. In some people, the disease is caused by gene mutations.