Heavy Drinking and Its Connection to Dementia

Alcohol addicted man alone having memory problems
Photo by tommaso79/iStockPhoto.com

It’s logical that people would want to do everything they could to prevent the onset of severe brain ailments later on in life. As heavy drinking is now proven to have a direct connection to dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other brain-related diseases, ensuring that one has good cognitive health late into life may rely on a lot of ways on significantly cutting back (if not completely eliminating) one’s alcohol consumption.

The Strain of Dementia and its
Connection to Heavy Drinking

The Alzheimer’s Association defines dementia as follows:

“Dementia is a general term for loss of memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking abilities that are severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia.”

While there is a wealth of theories and thoughts on preventing the onset of dementia, one critical issue that is not discussed enough is that heavy drinking can significantly contribute to one’s chances of experiencing brain-related health conditions later on in life. Again according to the Alzheimers Association, drinking alcohol to excess can and often does lead to a long list of long-term health effects, including but not limited to Alzheimer’s and dementia.

It does not appear to matter at what point in one’s life an individual begins to engage in heavy drinking, just that all forms of heavy drinking at any stage of life can increase risks for dementia and other brain-related illnesses later on in life. That means, even if a heavy drinker quits using alcohol in his midlife, he may still experience brain problems later on in life, even after years of sobriety. That’s why it is so important that people who drink to excess cease such activities as soon as possible. The earlier they quit drinking and start making a concerted effort towards protecting their health, the better their chances of avoiding debilitating health conditions later on in life.

What Really Happens When Someone
Drinks to Excess

Radiologist discuss brain scans results
                              Photo by gorodenkoff/iStockPhoto.com

Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other brain-related illnesses are only one set of the harmful effects of heavy drinking. There are almost countless other harmful short-term and long-term effects of this degree of alcohol consumption. Some of them include:

  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, burns, or drownings
  • Violent behavior
  • Alcohol poisoning (alcohol overdose)
  • Risky sexual behavior
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Digestive problems
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer, including cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, colon, liver, and esophagus.
  • A weakening of the immune system, and as a result, getting sick more often.
  • Learning and memory problems, reduced cognitive function, poor academic performance
  • The onset or exacerbation of mental health problems such as depression and anxiety
  • Lost productivity, harm within the workforce, unemployment, family problems
  • Alcohol addiction

That is just a glimpse at some of the harmful effects of heavy drinking. Drinking alcohol to excess affects everyone differently, depending on their life circumstances. But there will be some degree of harm, and that harm will become more prominent the longer they go without seeking help.

Alcohol Rehab—An Effective and Safe Way to Help Someone Overcome Alcohol Addiction

Narconon Arrowhead

Heavy drinking, or any amount of alcohol consumption for that matter, isn’t worth it. Alcohol addiction is woven into society’s fabric, often granted normalcy and a “That’s just the way it is,” sort of attitude. This approach to alcohol is a big mistake. As a collective society, we all need to work together to change how we view alcohol.

If alcohol addiction has touched down in your life or in the life of someone you love, you know that we can be anything but accepting of it. Alcohol by itself may be commonplace in American society, but just because it is a common element does not make it a good thing. Alcohol consumption can lead to alcohol addiction, leading to a long list of harmful effects, as discussed earlier.

Thankfully, there is a way out of the trap that is alcohol addiction. Residential drug and alcohol rehab centers can not only help recovering addicts physically withdraw off of substances and detox their bodies from harmful, intoxicating chemicals, but such programs can also assist recovering addicts in finding and addressing the underlying reasons why they turned to mind-altering substances in the first place.

Don’t let alcohol addiction be the end of the line for someone you care about. Contact Narconon today to take the first step towards a substance-free life for your loved one. Not only is it the right thing to do to address the health crisis that is addiction, but you are also investing in a healthy and long life for your loved one by helping them get into treatment today.


Reviewed by Claire Pinelli, ICAADC, CCS, LADC, RAS, MCAP



After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.