What is Wet Brain Syndrome and How Can You Get It?

What is Wet Brain Syndrome and How Can You Get It?


What Is Wet Brain?

You may have heard the term “wet brain” thrown around at meetings. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably unsure exactly what wet brain means. Let’s look at what it is and try to answer the question – what is wet brain? Then, let’s examine common wet brain symptoms.

What is Wet Brain symptoms?

Wet brain is a condition brought about by a deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1). Its technical name is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, after the scientists who discovered it. Wet brain is also a common term for those suffering from alcoholism.

Chronic and intense alcohol abuse can lead to a deficiency of thiamine. However, contrary to popular belief, wet brain symptoms aren’t exclusive to alcoholics. Neither are wet brain symptoms caused by alcohol killing brain cells. There’s certainly debate about the long-term effects of alcohol on an individual’s ability to think clearly. Still, alcohol hasn’t been shown to affect gray matter (the part of the brain responsible for cognition).

What Does Wet Brain Mean?

Now that we’ve answered the question “what is wet brain?”, let’s examine what exactly wet brain means. First and foremost, it’s a type of brain damage. In most cases, it’s permanent and can’t be reversed. However, some wet brain symptoms can be mitigated.

Wet brain doesn’t take time to develop, it’s sudden and devastating. Medically, wet brain is caused by large amounts of glucose being introduced to an already thiamin-deficient brain. Glucose is one of the major chemicals produced when sugar-rich alcohol is broken down by our bodies.

There are two primary phases to wet brain. The first is called Wernicke’s encephalopathy. This is an acute and severe lack of vitamin B1 in the brain. At this stage, wet brain symptoms can be reversed by reintroducing thiamine, often via IV injections. An individual who receives these injections can still return to normal.

The second stage, named Korsakoff’s psychosis, is not reversible. It’s in Korsakoff’s psychosis that the vitamin deficiency is present and a sudden, heavy intake of glucose occurs.
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Wet Brain and Alcoholism

Heavy drinkers are often unable to eat balanced meals as a result of nausea and other lifestyle choices. In this malnourished state, alcoholics are at extreme risk for developing wet brain symptoms. This risk is increased exponentially when there’s a sudden influx of glucose. Again, glucose is a primary byproduct of the sugars in alcohol.

It’s advisable for those in late stage alcoholism to avoid eating sweet foods, particularly if they’re a main food source. It’s important to note that wet brain is a result of malnourishment, rather than alcoholism itself.

Bulimia, diets that lack thiamine, and morning sickness are all precursors to wet brain.

Unsure if you’re an alcoholic? Read this article and find out

Wet Brain Symptoms – What Does Wet Brain Feel Like?

Up to now, this article’s been informative, but lacking a certain personal touch. We’ve answered “what is wet brain?” We’ve established what wet brain means and how it commonly manifests. We’ve even explored the link between alcoholism and wet brain. We haven’t answered the million dollar question, though. Exactly what does wet brain feel like?

Well, what does wet brain feel like? It feels like brain damage. This is to say, those suffering from wet brain are mentally impaired. In severe cases, they may be unable to care for themselves.

Wet brain symptoms range in severity. They usually include lack of muscle coordination, memory loss, hallucination, false memories, and abnormal vision (including drooping eyes and double vision). Once a certain line is crossed, many of these symptoms are untreatable.

Is Wet Brain Reversible?

There’s very little that can be done for an alcoholic in the second stage of wet brain. Wet brain is not merely stupidity brought on by damaged brain cells. Rather, it’s permanent and irreversible brain damage caused by a series of nutritional deficiencies.

Sadly, the effects of these combined deficiencies lead to lifelong consequences. Like any form of brain damage, wet brain completely alters a person’s ability to think. Depending on the severity, it can also render alcoholics incapable of caring for themselves.


At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we understand there’s no simple solution to substance abuse. We’ve been there. We’ve felt the hopelessness of active addiction and found a way out.

Thankfully, there’s another way. Recovery is possible and within the reach of everyone. Call us today at 1-844-I-CAN-CHANGE or 1-(561)-381-0015.

Let us help you or your loved one recover. Let us help you break the chains of addiction.

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