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What is the typical prognosis of alcoholic dementia?

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About 60 percent of people with alcohol-induced dementia make a full recovery if they stop drinking and take thiamine, according to Internet Mental Health. People who abuse alcohol become deficient in thiamine, or vitamin B1, which is essential to brain function and memory, the Alzheimer's Association reports.

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Doctors also refer to alcohol-induced dementia as alcohol-induced neurocognitive disorder, explains Internet Mental Health. The disorder ranges in severity from mild to severe and includes symptoms such as memory loss, thinking disturbances, difficulty speaking or understanding spoken commands, and difficulty carrying out motor tasks. Disturbances in social functioning, such as withdrawal and depression, characterize mild to moderate alcohol-induced dementia, while aggression, irritability and hostility often occur when the disorder is more advanced. Unlike alcoholic delirium, the symptoms of dementia usually persist after a period of abstinence, although they tend to improve with time if the person continues to abstain.

Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff syndrome are disorders that are similar to alcohol-induced dementia, notes the Alzheimer's Association. Wernicke encephalopathy is an acute, life-threatening reaction to severe thiamine deficiency that is common in people who chronically abuse alcohol. It causes hallucinations, confusion and gait disturbances, and it requires immediate medical care. Korsakoff's syndrome often follows an episode of Wernicke encephalopathy and is characterized by symptoms such as learning difficulties, short-term memory loss and gaps in long-term memory. About 25 percent of people with Korsakoff syndrome make a full recovery; 50 percent improve somewhat, and 25 percent remain unchanged.

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