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What is Wet Brain | Signs and Symptoms

What is “Wet Brain”?

The health risks and consequences associated with prolonged alcohol abuse and heavy drinking are well known:

  • High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.
  • Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.
  • Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.
  • Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
  • Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment.
  • Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism.
  • Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns.
  • Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence
  • Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels.
  • Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women.


However, one of the most serious possible side effect is ‘wet brain‘ which is actually a slang term for a condition known as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Wet Brain may be the consequence of thiamine deficiency due to alcoholism and the undernourishment.

Wet Brain Symptoms

This chronic brain syndrome is caused by long-term alcoholism (also known as alcohol use disorder) and is accompanied by an array of symptoms:

Some of the symptoms of wet brain include:

  • Staggering gait
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Confabulation — the remembering of events that have not occurred.
  • Temporary memory loss
  • Long term memory loss
  • Speech problems
  • Difficulty eating
  • Confusion, Drowsiness and Paralysis of Eye Movements

In some ways, wet brain, or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, mimics dementia.

The Cause of Wet Brain

A primary cause for this is a thiamine deficiency (Vitamin B1) due to malnutrition and poor intestinal absorption of food and vitamins caused by alcohol consumption. The wet-brain person acts much like the Alzheimer patient with loss of recent memory, disorientation with regard to time and place, confusion, or telling imagined and untrue experiences as truth.

If wet brain is identified in its early onset, an infusion of thiamine (B1) may have some preventive use. But, unfortunately, there is no recovery from Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome; therefore, it is one of the most tragic consequences of alcoholism.

Treatment and Prevention

Sobriety is the best means of preventing wet brain

Sobriety is the best means of preventing wet brain

The best prevention is for the alcoholic to achieve sobriety and maintain it.  A healthy diet is critical as well, but sobriety is critical for the prevention for this permanent condition.   The alcohol dependent person who is ready to turn their life around has many options to choose from:

  • Free, self help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous
  • Individual or group Counseling
  • In patient treatment
  • Residential treatment.

Most of those options are fee based but not all, and most insurance companies provide for alcohol dependency issues.  Contact your insurance company to see what is available to you.

Read our special report “Alcohol And Alcoholism And The Affect On The Brain” and learn how “Drinking Alcohol Can Make Your Anxiety Worse“.  Our Alcoholic Hotline is here 24/7 for those in need of guidance.  1-888-702-6908