There are many strategies for conquering a substance abuse addiction, and one of these involves a greater knowledge of what such an addiction is doing to your body. Some people who deal with substance abuse are more likely to reckon with their issues if they fully understand just how dangerous this addiction is and the risks they’re taking, and a great example here is the way alcohol abuse impacts the digestive, gastric and stomach systems in the body.
At Moonlight Mountain Recovery, our drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs include themes like informing our patients of important facts like these — helping them understand the true impact their substance abuse is having, which sometimes helps maintain their commitment to recovery. Down these lines, what are some of the major areas of your digestive system and stomach that are negatively impacted by alcohol abuse? Here are a few to keep in mind, starting at the beginning of the system and moving downward.
First and foremost, alcohol begins impacting your digestive system as soon as it enters your mouth and throat. Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that it pulls water from your tissues and leads to dehydration. This can cause a number of issues in the mouth and throat area, including dryness, inflammation and an increased risk of infection.
Alcohol can also irritate the lining of your mouth and throat, which can lead to pain and difficulty swallowing. This is because it quickly begins being broken down into acetaldehyde, which is a very toxic substance.
The esophagus is the tube that connects your throat to your stomach, and it’s responsible for moving food and liquid downward. When you abuse alcohol, this process can be disrupted in a number of ways. For one thing, the muscle at the base of your esophagus that’s responsible for keeping food and liquid in your stomach can become relaxed, leading to vomiting and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
In addition, the mucus that lines your esophagus can be damaged by alcohol abuse, leading to inflammation (esophagitis) and ulcers. These ulcers can cause bleeding, which can lead to anemia.
The stomach is where the majority of alcohol digestion and absorption occurs, and it’s also where a great deal of the damage from alcohol abuse takes place. One of the most common problems here is gastritis, which is inflammation of the lining of your stomach. This can be very painful and lead to a number of other issues, including ulcers, bleeding and a decreased appetite.
In addition, drinking too much alcohol can interfere with the production of stomach acid, which is responsible for breaking down food. This can lead to indigestion, heartburn and nausea. Alcohol can also irritate the lining of your stomach, leading to inflammation and pain.
Perhaps the most well-known consequence of alcohol abuse is liver damage. The liver is responsible for filtering toxins from your blood, and it’s especially vulnerable to the damaging effects of alcohol. Alcohol abuse can lead to a number of liver problems, including fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis is the most serious form of liver damage, and it can be fatal. It occurs when the liver is so damaged that it’s unable to function properly.
Next up are the intestines, starting with the small intestine. The small intestine is responsible for absorbing nutrients from food, and it’s also where a great deal of alcohol absorption takes place. When you abuse alcohol, this process can be disrupted, leading to malnutrition and digestive problems.
In addition, the lining of the small intestine can be damaged by alcohol, leading to inflammation (enteritis) and ulcers. These ulcers can cause bleeding, which can lead to anemia.
Now we have the large intestine, which is also known as the colon. The colon is responsible for absorbing water and electrolytes from food and eliminating waste from the body. When you abuse alcohol, this process can be disrupted, leading to dehydration and digestive problems.
In addition, the lining of the colon can be damaged by alcohol, leading to inflammation (colitis) and ulcers. These ulcers can cause bleeding, which can lead to anemia.
Rectum and Anus
Finally, we have the rectum and anus. The rectum is responsible for storing waste before it’s eliminated from the body, and the anus is the opening through which waste is eliminated. When you abuse alcohol, this process can be disrupted, leading to constipation and digestive problems.
In addition, the lining of the rectum and anus can be damaged by alcohol, leading to inflammation (proctitis) and ulcers. These ulcers can cause bleeding, which can lead to anemia.
While we mentioned several of these already, here’s a broad list of the conditions in the digestive system that alcohol may lead to or exacerbate:
- Gastritis: Irritation and inflammation of the stomach lining
- Enlarged esophageal veins: Dilated veins in the esophagus, which can lead to bleeding
- Ulcers: Open sores in the lining of the stomach or intestines
- Cancer: Alcohol abuse is a leading cause of stomach cancer
- Liver damage: Alcohol is a major cause of liver disease
- Pancreatitis: Inflammation of the pancreas, which can be very painful
As you can see, alcohol abuse can take a serious toll on your digestive system. If you’re struggling with an addiction to alcohol, it’s important to get help as soon as possible. There are many treatment options available, and with the help of a professional, you can conquer this addiction and get your life back on track.
For more on this, or to learn about any of our alcohol recovery or addiction recovery programs, speak to the caring staff with Moonlight Mountain Recovery today.