The Wernicke encephalopathy present as a classical triad of ocular abnormality, confusion and ataxia. Although, the explanation provided for the reason of the Wernicke’s encephalopathy in an alcoholic is thiamine deficiency. However, thiamine deficiency and use of alcohol display a complex relation of disease and social factors.
In case of alcohol dependence, there is a tendency of skipping nutritious meals. For instance, instead of a regular dinner, a person may prefer drinking alcohol. As a result, one may feel a sense of having enough food without even having any meal. Hence, on a regular basis skipping lunch or dinner can cause thiamine deficiency.
Another reason for skipping meals could be isolation from friends and family. For example, the partner or parents of heavy alcohol users may suffer emotionally. Further, such differences of opinion can cause arguments. As a result, unfortunately, in some instances, alcohol users are often left alone due to their addiction problem. Thus, inability to cook and loneliness can result in skipping of nutritious food.
Additionally, in the dependence on alcohol, one of a significant issue is unemployment. For instance, a severe addiction to alcohol can significantly impact on the workplace reputation. Perhaps, in unfortunate circumstances, excessive intake of alcohol use can lead up to the poverty of alcohol users. Hence, a vicious cycle of alcohol use and poverty is evident from the above example.
The preventive strategies can break down into an individual level and population level. At a personal level encouraging chronic alcohol users to take more legumes and vegetable. It is essential to constructively give the message of not to skip meals for an alcoholic. Similarly, at a population level, the preventive strategies should encourage more intake of vitamins. For instances, supplementary vitamins or fortification of wheat and bread can provide useful plans for long-term alcohol users.
Overall, thiamine deficiency, lack of food, poverty and unemployment display a complicated relationship in alcohol use. The Wernicke’s encephalopathy seems to be a medical issue in the first glance. However, the clinical signs of Wernicke’s encephalopathy is a continuum of a complex social challenge of thiamine deficiency in an alcoholic. The government, policymakers and researchers must analyse the factors from a social angle to prevent Wernicke’s in alcoholics.