Moderate to high levels of alcohol consumption over a long period of time, or excessive drinking over shorter periods, can lead to ARBI. In the short term, it can reduce inhibitions and affect judgement, balance and coordination, increasing the risk of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as a result of accidents.
A major reason for ARBI is thiamin (vitamin B1) deficiency. Thiamin, which is an essential nutrient for healthy brains, is not produced by the body and must be consumed in food or supplements. Acohol interferes with the absorbsion of thiamin due to swelling of the stomach lining. Excessive drinking is often associated with a poor diet, which means thiamin can be lacking in the first place.
The effects of ARBI can result in:
- impaired judgment and self-awareness
- social isolation
- depression and mood disorders
- lack of motivation
- distractibility and concentration issues
- impulsivity and reckless behaviour.
There are various types of ARBI depending on where the brain injury occurs:
- Cerebellar atrophy – causes balance and coordination issues
- Peripheral neuropathy – leads to sensory issues with the hands, feet and legs
- Hepatic encephalopathy – can result from liver disease
- Frontal lobe dysfunction – affects cognition, behaviour and personality
- Wernicke’s encephalopathy – can develop due to extreme thiamine deficiency
- Korsakoff’s amnesic syndrome – also a result of extreme thiamine deficiency.