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Have I lost my sharp mind?

Old 09-20-2022, 04:03 AM
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gms
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Have I lost my sharp mind?

I have been drinking for around 8-10 years. It started with one or two large beers in the evening. Around 2016 I think, it advanced to 6 pack every evening, sometimes more. Since the pandemic started, I lost all control and drunk every evening until falling asleep on the bathroom floor, sometimes so drunk that I peed while sleeping.

My physical health has been okay. I was diagnosed with fatty liver. My liver enzymes are in normal range (albeit high normal), but I have mild pain or discomfort on the right side of my abdomen.

I recently started thinking of the damage to my brain. I work as a software engineer in a very good company and in the past two year I had some problems due to my performance. I'm not as sharp as I used to be and my more junior colleagues outperform me. I'm almost 40yo and I wonder if I permanently lost my skills due to alcoholism. I know there is lots of optimism and support here, but I'm wondering if you also know examples of those who quit, but never regained their sharp minds?

I read PubMed articles about alcoholism and cognitive functions and they seem to agree that people do lose IQ due to alcohol - some brain functions recover with abstinence, but not all of it.

I quit drinking around 6 or 7 weeks ago and no much changed in my physical or mental health. I might have had very mild withdrawal symptoms: vivid dreams and strange hand movements in the first few nights when I was falling asleep. The mild pain / discomfort on the right side is much less frequent. I do not see any cognitive changes. The only thing that changed is my libido - it went down considerably.
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Old 09-20-2022, 05:15 AM
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Hello gms and welcome on SR!

It's hard to say if there was a loss of cognitive functions because of my consumption but I would say yes, a small part.
My short-term memory has clearly improved since I quit drinking.
It got to the point where I had no idea (memory) what I had done the night before while I was drunk.
I had even erased some phone numbers from my contacts to make sure I wouldn't call them while I was drunk because I had no clue what I told them.

Congrats on being sober for 7 weeks, this is fantastic!
Have you noticed your memory clearing up?

Keep the good work gms and don't hesitate to come back on SR for support.
We're into this with you

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Old 09-20-2022, 06:11 AM
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I don't think it's that easy to measure or to quantify. For sure aging may play a part as well. At this point, it's too late for me to change the past and all I can do is try to eat well, stay hydrated, get enough sleep and some exercise every day.

No one here can really answer your question, but it's really good that you've quit drinking now. Give it a bit more time. I didn't feel like I had "recovered" completely for nearly a year. I've been sober close to nine years now and I can't really tell how much is some sort of damage, if there even is any, and how much is just general aging. At 40 you should still get a very good recovery, and don't let those youngsters get to you. No way I'd want to go back to my drinking twenties.
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Old 09-20-2022, 01:58 PM
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Congrats on your sober time gms. I think if you give it time you'll start to notice improvements. Keep in mind alcohol also depletes your body of essential nutrients as well as screws up your digestive system, inhibiting your ability to replenish those nutrients. It's going to take quite some time for those systems to balance back out.

I drank heavily for the better part of 12 years and am now in my mid-thirties. Through it all I've always kept my body strong and otherwise healthy. At 7 months sober, I am just now starting to feel normal again. The first 5-6 months my body was all over the place (granted, I was fighting through some serious alcohol-induced health issues for a lot of that time). Sleep, energy, digestion, my ability to think clearly and retain information -- it was all out of whack. But I'm finally starting to feel a sense of equilibrium again.

Be patient, stay the course, and take care of yourself. Things will get better.
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Old 09-20-2022, 02:29 PM
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I am an academic and also worried about this— I had quit a bit of brain fog, aphasia, and memory issues in early sobriety as my brain healed and rewired. I kept a daily planner and made notes to myself as an aid during the first 3-6 months, but thankfully it improved gradually but steadily. I may not be the sharpest tack in the drawer, but I have sharpened up fairly close to “normal” with continued sobriety. Hang in there!
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Old 09-20-2022, 02:38 PM
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I drank everyday all day for several years, and suffered mini strokes at the end of my drinking career, so although I saw improvement in a few months I still think, for me, it took a couple of years to regain that ‘edge’, but I did.

Im sure you will too, and I hope your way back will be considerably shorter

welcome aboard gms

D


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Old 09-23-2022, 07:17 AM
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I read somewhere that when an alcohol dependent person quits they do suffer a small initial drop in cognitive function but it recovers in time. I cannot remember the publication I read it in or the time periods involved but I remember it being a credible source. It does somewhat accord with my own and others experience of what is often referred to as "brain fog" that does gradually ease.
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Old 09-25-2022, 09:03 AM
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The amount of time varies with each person, but after drinking for 30 years, it took my brain a good six months to rewire. The most important thing to remember is that brain function will eventually improve, but ONLY if you stay stopped!
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Old 09-26-2022, 06:03 AM
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Worrying about your past drinking is not gonna make your brain any sharper, that's for sure. And any future drinking is guaranteed to make it less sharp. So if you're looking to maximize brain function going forward, stay sober. That's what you're in control of, the hand you're playing right now.
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Old 09-26-2022, 07:39 PM
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My brain definitely changed when I was drinking heavily. I was all over the place. Couldn't think in a straight line anymore, which was hard for me because I'd always been proud of my intellect and my ability to concentrate on difficult cognitive tasks. But realizing I wasn't able to process information well anymore just made me anxious and depressed, so I drank at it. And so the cycle continued.
When I finally stopped drinking, it was a good 12-18 months before I felt I had my edge back. It just got better and better with time, and now I feel like I'm as capable (cognitively) as I ever was, BUT I have gratitude and wisdom on my side now, so I think differently than I used to (in a good way).

In year #2 of sobriety, feeling like my brain was "back," I went after a doctorate degree—a lifelong dream that I'd decided, while in the throes of alcoholism, was impossible—and I'll graduate in December. I NEVER could have done that while actively drinking because my brain could never have kept up. Sober, though, it was an exciting and invigorating cognitive journey.

I'm not a brain scientist, of course, but yes, I think alcohol impaired my cognitive functioning.
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Old 10-01-2022, 09:44 PM
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Hi gms. Everybody is different, which of course includes how alcohol affects those who consume it for a long time. Because you only had 6 or 7 weeks without drinking when you posted your question, from my own experience, it is very likely too soon to tell what your eventual outcome will be.

From my own experience, right after I quit, I had a slight drop in cognitive ability that lasted maybe three months. My background is in chemistry, and after I quit drinking, I had a hard time working with numbers and applying what I knew - very frustrating! The most noticeable problems I had were physical, though, my handwriting became uneven, and I developed double vision. I'd look at the moon, and there were two of them. All those problems went away after a few months, HOWEVER, my loss of cognitive ability, handwriting problems, and double vision, were exactly what I had experienced when I first starting drinking years earlier! It was ironic, that now that I wasn't drinking, I had all the symptoms that I was! But those resolved after a time.

As far as complete recovery, everyone is different. Speaking for myself, I was a heavy drinker for probably 25 years. Now, after almost 25 years of 100% sobriety, I have recovered all of my cognitive abilities. Those, plus I continued with my education and personality development. After I quit drinking, I worked hard on becoming the best person I could possibly be. I viewed becoming sober and HOW to stay that way as my greatest adventure, something to look forward to.

Sobriety was something I did for myself, it wasn't something that somebody else was doing for me. Others could and did assist, but the responsibility was mine, and mine alone. I had a job, too, and after I became sober, I two jobs. My job working at being sober is full time, coming up on 25 years at 24 hours a day. One way of looking at that job is my life depends on it.

Editorializing a bit, anyone who is headed toward sobriety should view attaining sobriety as their new job, with as few "days off" as possible. I'll tell you why, too! Being sober doesn't have any "days off". It just doesn't!
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Old 10-25-2022, 11:39 AM
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GMS, I have been going through the same thing for a while to be honest and it's made me think about stopping drinking again too. Only in my mid 30s but don't feel my brain is where it 'could or should' be. I'm often quite forgetful. The thing for me is that (I suppose I am bargaining here) I wonder, as a 'moderate' drinker, whether its the alcohol that is effecting me, or other things in my lifestyle. In reality it is hard to pinpoint the exact issue.

Having said that, alcohol would be an obvious place to start, I guess.

I've been sick on and off now since mid September.
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Old 10-27-2022, 05:04 PM
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I'm days away from having 6 months sober. My body and brain are still making positive changes. I did a health check up not too long ago. All of my bloodwork came back perfect and no signs of any organ damage. I drank daily for 20 years and very heavily since 2020. My memory is better than I can remember; I don't have to leave reminder notes for myself all the time. If I forget now, it's because I'm pushing 50.
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Old 10-27-2022, 05:51 PM
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It took me a few years but my mind's abilities have come back.
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Old 10-27-2022, 06:24 PM
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I think I've read that it takes up to a minimum of a year before the body completely heals itself
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Old 12-31-2022, 03:59 AM
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gms
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OP checking in. Since I wrote my first post I had some short relapses where I had a few beers in the evening for a few days. On a few occasions I also socially drank a drink or two, but stopped like a normal person. I think I have had way more success in keeping my drinking in check than I did in the past. That said, I'm not proud of that social drinking and aim at complete abstinence.

Somebody recommended to me Allen Carr's Easy Way to Control Alcohol - I liked it overall, but I can see the method was designed for cigarettes and doesn't fit alcohol 100%.

I talked to a psychiatrist who prescribed me with Acamprosate (Campral) and sulpiride (antidepressant). I took them for some time, but recently stopped. It may sound weird from a drunk, but I would like to live drug free and I worry about side effects.

There is no change in my health or cognition. I started noticing situations where I have to think hard to remember the name of a place or person, especially when I learned it recently. I also have problems recalling names of people that I interacted with a few years ago. I remember faces and interactions, but I have trouble recalling their names. I keep wondering if it is normal, a sign of aging, or brain damage from alcoholism.
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Old 01-01-2023, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by gms View Post

I recently started thinking of the damage to my brain. I work as a software engineer in a very good company and in the past two year I had some problems due to my performance. I'm not as sharp as I used to be and my more junior colleagues outperform me. I'm almost 40yo and I wonder if I permanently lost my skills due to alcoholism.

I quit drinking around 6 or 7 weeks ago
I'm a software engineer also, so have had similar concerns. I have been quit for 7 months now and I am sure I am still not back to baseline. I drank for about 12 years, heavily, especially at the last there, far more than 6 beers.

No, you have not permanently lost your skills. The latest science has shown that brain recovery, neuroplasticity and neuron regeneration will continue for years.
40? I started my career as a software engineer at 37. You are YOUNG! I'm 63.

I probably drank way more than you did and for longer and I am still employed as a software engineer. I am sure I did a LOT of damage to my brain and my skills have suffered because of it, and it sometimes seems to be an uphill battle. I suffer from anxiety and depression because of my years of drinking, but there are times, I seem almost back to where I was all those years before I started drinking. Sometimes, even better than before. You are going to be fine.


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Old 01-01-2023, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by gms View Post
OP checking in. Since I wrote my first post I had some short relapses where I had a few beers in the evening for a few days. On a few occasions I also socially drank a drink or two, but stopped like a normal person. I think I have had way more success in keeping my drinking in check than I did in the past. That said, I'm not proud of that social drinking and aim at complete abstinence.

Somebody recommended to me Allen Carr's Easy Way to Control Alcohol - I liked it overall, but I can see the method was designed for cigarettes and doesn't fit alcohol 100%.

I talked to a psychiatrist who prescribed me with Acamprosate (Campral) and sulpiride (antidepressant). I took them for some time, but recently stopped. It may sound weird from a drunk, but I would like to live drug free and I worry about side effects.

There is no change in my health or cognition. I started noticing situations where I have to think hard to remember the name of a place or person, especially when I learned it recently. I also have problems recalling names of people that I interacted with a few years ago. I remember faces and interactions, but I have trouble recalling their names. I keep wondering if it is normal, a sign of aging, or brain damage from alcoholism.
If you’re worried at any level - really worried - I think drinking alcohol is one variable you can remove completely, right now?

D
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