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It’s Worth Knowing: The Long-Term Effects of Alcohol on the Pancreas

When you or someone you love abuses alcohol, it’s easy to get lost in the short-term effects. Things like job loss, social isolation and financial hardships are all common when someone is dealing with an alcohol addiction.

But, what about the long-term effects of prolonged alcohol use? Even though it may not be obvious immediately, there are things going on in the body that could cause irreversible damage. And one of the most important ones to keep in mind is alcohol’s effect on the pancreas.

How Does Alcohol Damage the Pancreas?

The main function of the pancreas is to produce two essential substances that are vital to proper health and digestion. The pancreas produces digestive juices intended to help break down food, and also produces hormones, such as insulin, that aid in digestion and regulate blood sugar levels.

Over time, drinking in excess can cause the pancreas to produce toxic substances instead of healthy ones. These substances can lead to an inflammation of the pancreas, a condition known as pancreatitis. Alcohol use is the leading cause of pancreatitis and the risks are even higher for individuals who also smoke.

Acute Pancreatitis

Acute pancreatitis can come on suddenly. The pancreas becomes inflamed, and can stay that way for a few days. This type of pancreatitis is usually temporary and doesn’t cause permanent damage. However, it can lead to more serious conditions, such as kidney failure, if left untreated.

Symptoms include:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Back pain

Chronic Pancreatitis

Chronic pancreatitis happens when the pancreas becomes inflamed and stays that way. This typically causes it to stop working properly altogether. This type of damage from alcohol abuse can be difficult to treat and can cause complications that are life threatening. In some cases, people develop pancreatic cancer, diabetes or kidney failure.

Symptoms include:

  • Severe abdominal pain that is recurring
  • Weight loss
  • Abnormal bowel movements
  • Back pain
  • Jaundice

While it can differ from person to person, prolonged alcohol abuse can lead to repeated episodes of acute pancreatitis. Eventually, this can cause permanent, irreversible damage to the pancreas and leave you with a chronic health condition.

On a positive note, studies have shown that quitting alcohol use can stop further damage to the pancreas and increase the chances of finding some form of recovery from the disease. Addiction recovery is the best course of action for someone suffering from pancreatitis.

Co-Occurring Conditions

When it comes to addiction, it is very common for individuals to be dealing with co-occurring conditions. Many times, people who have substance use disorders are also diagnosed with health conditions brought on by excessive drinking.
When it comes to finding treatment, it’s even more important to find a rehab facility that provides support for a dual diagnosis disorder. The long-term effects of alcohol on the pancreas are obvious, so finding treatment for both alcoholism and any underlying mental health disorder is going to offer the best chance at recovery success.

Recovery for Alcohol Addiction at Footprints Beachside Recovery

At Footprints Beachside Recovery, we offer a variety of treatment options that ensure we can provide the unique care that each specific client needs. It is our belief that understanding how to identify and treat alcohol addiction and dual diagnosis disorders are an important part of each client’s recovery. Speak with one our admissions specialists today and learn about how you can take the first steps toward a brighter future at Footprints.

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