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Alcohol Abuse and Digestive Issues

In research sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the role of alcohol in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract was explored to determine the effect that alcohol has on the entire GI system. The report, entitled Alcohol’s Role in Gastrointestinal Tract Disorders, identifies several areas of potential concern, including the following:

  • Alcohol may interfere with the structure, as well as the function, of GI-tract segments.
  • Alcohol can impair the function of the muscles separating the esophagus from the stomach, contributing to the occurrence of heartburn.
  • Alcohol-induced damage to the lining of the esophagus increases the risk of esophageal cancer.
  • Alcohol interferes with gastric acid secretion.
  • Alcohol may impair the muscle movement in the small and large intestines, contributing to diarrhea.
  • Alcohol inhibits the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine.
  • Alcohol increases the transport of toxins across the intestinal walls, which can lead to damage to the liver and other organs.

These findings show that alcohol abuse can lead to various digestive issues.

Types of Digestive Issues

The most common types of digestive issues caused by alcohol abuse include the following:

  • Acid reflux – This condition is characterized by a painful burning sensation in the esophagus, just behind the breastbone. The primary cause of acid reflux is the regurgitation of gastric acid. The pain typically rises in the chest and may radiate to the neck, throat or angle of the jaw. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the number one cause of the regurgitation of gastric acid is the consumption of alcohol.
  • GERD – Gastroesophageal reflux disease is a condition in which the stomach contents leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus, which can irritate the esophagus and cause heartburn.
  • Cirrhosis – This chronic disease of the liver is characterized by the degeneration of cells, inflammation and fibrous thickening of tissue. It is typically a result of alcoholism or hepatitis.
  • Gastritis – This is inflammation of the lining of the stomach.
  • IBS – Irritable bowel syndrome is a disorder that leads to abdominal pain and cramping, changes in bowel movements and other symptoms.

In all cases, alcohol negatively contributes to these digestive issues.

Benefits of Alcohol Rehab

By taking advantage of a quality alcohol rehab program, you can get benefits, such as the following:

  • An understanding of the underlying issues that led you to this disease
  • Increased awareness about alcohol abuse and addiction
  • Skills and coping strategies to help you remove alcohol from your life
  • Strategies to help you have good health, financial stability, strong personal relationships and the ability to be productive at school or work

A quality alcohol rehab program can help you receive these benefits and much more.

Get Help Finding Alcohol Rehab Resources

It is clear that alcohol has a negative impact on your digestive system. We also know that alcohol abuse affects you in other physical ways, as well as in all other aspects of your life. If you are abusing alcohol, it is important that you get the right type of help to meet your needs. Please call our toll-free number at any time. We are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you have and to provide information about alcohol rehab options.