Home

About the Film

Alcoholism

Memory

Death and Dying

Family History

Dialogue

Conclusion


Copyright © 2000 Trish Williams

Advanced Progression of Alcoholism

Goodwin typifies the progression of the disease as follows:

“The ‘typical’ white male American alcoholic begins drinking heavily in his late teens or early twenties, drinks more and more through his twenties, starts having serious problems in his thirties, is hospitalized for drinking (if ever) in his mid or late thirties, and is clearly identified by himself and others as alcoholic—a man who cannot drink without trouble—between age 40 and 50.” (Goodwin 38)

 


The brain damage is what effected my father’s mental capacities, dramatically changing his personality and his memory, leaving him institutionalized for the remainder of his life.

This is a similar parallel to my father’s alcoholic progression, differing only in how much longer it took my father to reach the advanced stage. He was able to conceal his alcoholism and function until he was in his late fifties. By this point it was too late. He was so enmeshed in his addiction and denial that he lost control of his drinking, as well as every aspect of his life, and was unable to have any insight.

 

In the advanced stages of alcoholism my father showed brain damage, which along with liver damage becomes apparent after long term use in heavy drinkers.

“ But a small minority of alcoholics do suffer brain damage due to deficiency of thiamine, a B vitamin. The malnourished alcoholic gets too little thiamine, and if the deprivation persists and is severe, certain well-demarcated areas of the brain are destroyed. These areas are, among other things, involved in memory storage. Their destruction results in severe memory impairment. A German named Wernicke and a Russian named Korsakoff first described the disease. The patient with Wernicke-Korsakoff disease—almost always an alcoholic in this country—can remember the distant past fairly well, has a normal IQ, and seems reasonable bright except for one problem: he cannot remember anything that happened to him a few minutes after it happens. The condition is devastating, and the chronic Wernick-Korsakoff patient needs custodial care for the rest of his life.” (Goodwin 31)

The brain damage is what effected my father’s mental capacities, dramatically changing his personality and his memory, leaving him institutionalized for the remainder of his life.

return to homepage