What Is Alcohol-Related Brain Damage?

Alcohol-Related Brain Damage (ARBD), or alcohol-related brain injury (ARBI), is an umbrella term for the damage that can be happen to the brain as a result of long-term heavy drinking. Over time, drinking too much alcohol can change the way the brain works, and its physical shape and structure. This can bring some very serious consequences, including changes in personality, as well problems with thinking, mood, memory and learning.

If you’re caring for someone with ARBD, these pages will give you the information you need to make sure you understand the condition, and can ensure they have the best possible chance of recovery. If you need to find out about services local to you, we'll shortly be uploading an ARBD services directory.

If you’re working in healthcare, social care, housing, the emergency services, or any other field where you meet people with possible ARBD, you may wish to take advantage of our specialist training on how to manage the condition and support some of your most vulnerable clients.

Find out more

What is ARBD?

Signs and symptoms of ARBD

Diagnoisis and treatment of ARBD

Discover the road to recovery: practical advice on caring for someone with ARBD

Legal factsheets

Someone with ARBD may not always be able to decide things for themself. Our legal factsheets explain how to deal with that.  

Advance Decision Making

Lasting Power of Attorney 

Using the Mental Capacity Act

Resources for practitioners

ARBD - a quick guide for professionals

Chris's Story 

"I didn’t think I drank that much, the odd glass in an evening with my husband, but I didn’t notice my consumption gradually increasing and I definitely didn’t know the damage it would do to my mind and body. I had always been fit and healthy; I had no reason to be concerned.

"It started gradually at first, stumbling occasionally, forgetting things and then all of a sudden it felt like I lost control of my left side. I couldn’t walk properly; my leg wouldn’t listen to what I wanted it to do, no matter how hard I tried. It felt like I’d had a stroke: in the end it was so bad that I resorted to crawling on all fours at home.

"I looked up my symptoms and thought I may even have Parkinson’s. I didn’t even know that Alcohol-Related Brain Damage existed until somebody said I had it.

"Eventually I was diagnosed with Cerebellar Disease after a severe B12 deficiency, and was told the extent of my recovery would depend on the length of time this had been going on. It has taken me seven long years to get nearly back to normal. I still go to physiotherapy now, but only I know what’s happened to me."

Read the report of our focus group of people with ARBD and their carers, talking about their experiences.

We've also run a number of training courses for local organisations on how to better support people with ARBD. You can read the learners' handbook here, to get an idea of the content of the course.

For more information about ARBD or about our training courses, please contact arbd@alcoholconcern.org.uk or call 0203 815 8920.