Alcohol and Korsakoff Syndrome


Korsakoff Syndrome is a brain disorder most commonly caused by long-term excessive drinking. Some people call the condition Korsakoff’s Psychosis or ‘alcohol amnestic syndrome’. The latter name is because of the memory impairment that can occur.

Korsakoff Syndrome is caused by a Thiamine (B1) deficiency, which is common in heavy drinkers because of poor diet and an inflamed stomach lining that limits vitamin absorption.

Korsakoff Syndrome is commonly a stage on from Wernicke's encephalopathy but the conditions can occur independently of each other. Wernicke's encephalopathy’s development can be sudden and fast treatment is key. Treatment is often the injection of vitamin B1. Wernicke's encephalopathy can be fatal if it isn’t treated.

Korsakoff Syndrome can cause brain damage and temporary memory loss. People suffering from Korsakoff Syndrome also often have learning problems and changes in personality, and are prone to lying to disguise memory loss.

A five-week alcohol-free period is needed to diagnose Korsakoff Syndrome so that alcohol withdrawal symptoms have passed. Medical tests are needed as well as professional observation. Those suffering from Korsakoff Syndrome need to focus on stopping drinking and eating a healthy diet. Most people’s condition improves within 2 years. A quarter recover adequately and half recover well. A quarter do not recover and may require long-term care and support.

← Back to Index

Email usTel: +44 (0)330 555 4680

Our site uses cookies to help provide you the best experience. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.
Find out more about cookies and how to change your cookie settings in your browser.