What is Wet Brain?


Wet Brain

Wet brain is a type of brain damage that is also known as the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. It is caused by a deficiency of vitamin B1 (thiamine) which is typically caused by the heavy consumption of alcohol. This is because when it comes to alcoholism and the brain, the alcohol makes it more difficult for the brain to absorb thiamine.

When an individual suffers from this condition, the most common symptoms include ataxia (lack of muscle coordination), confusion, memory loss, dementia, hallucination, and a loss in the control of eye movements.

Though it is rare, it is possible for this condition to be caused by reasons other than alcoholism and the brain. For example, it can also occur when an individual experiences vomiting episodes that go on for several days. Typically, it is caused because of bulimia or serious morning sickness.

Keep in mind; it is extremely rare for either of these medial issues to cause this condition. In fact, the vast majority of the time both bulimia and serious morning sickness are brought to your health providers attention and controlled long before the risk of this condition surfaces.


Naturally, the number one way to prevent this condition is by not drinking. Alcoholics suffer from thiamine deficiency due to their poor eating habits as well as the destruction the alcohol causes to their intestinal system. This is because the damage makes it more difficult for your intestinal system to absorb nutrients. The damage that alcohol consumption causes to the liver also plays a role in the deficiency because it reduces the amount of thiamine that the body is able to process.

If you are someone who is going to consume alcohol regularly it is important that you take care of yourself in order to prevent wet brain. This means that you should always eat well-balanced meals and you should be taking daily multivitamins. This will ensure that your brain is getting the proper about of thiamine it needs to avoid the condition.

The unfortunate truth is that heavy drinkers usually feel sick to their stomach a great portion of the day and as a result, they do not want to eat anything. This is why it is important to make sure that you consume vitamin supplements (especially B1) if you do not eat very much because of alcoholism.


Individuals who are suffering from early stages of wet brain have been known to react well to big doses of thiamine. When large doses of thiamine are issued early enough it is possible for the person to see noticeable improvements.

Unfortunately, people who suffer from the long term effects of alcoholism and the brain are not usually responsive to any form of treatment.

Approximately 20 percent of all individuals who suffer from this condition pass away. Only 20 percent of individuals who receive proper treatment will fully recover mentally. Approximately 40 percent will recover from ataxia and 60 percent will recover from irregular eye movement.

Alcoholism is the number one cause for this condition. Individuals who heavily consume alcohol for a number of years are at high risk of developing Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. The rate at which the condition occurs within the general population is not currently known.

However, it is known that the elderly and the homeless have higher rates of this condition than any other group. If you or anyone you know shows signs or symptoms of wet brain, it is imperative that they seek medical attention as soon as possible.

More than wet brain on our alcoholism stages page

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Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More