How Alcohol Abuse Harms Your Stomach

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Stomach pain was one of the worst parts of my early sobriety. The pain and discomfort was unbearable at times. There were times when the pain was so bad I couldn’t leave the house. I would just lay on the couch all day hugging a heated blanket, moaning and praying for the agony to end.

Part of the problem I faced was psychosomatic, no doubt about it. I was learning to live without alcohol, so I was experiencing intense anxiety and fear which certainly added to my stomach problems. This level of stress is guaranteed to cause anyone physical issues like stomach pain, headaches and depression. The psychological strain I was under certainly added to the physical discomfort I was suffering through

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I also discovered through research that large quantities of alcohol consumed over many years will cause a tremendous amount of damage to the stomach lining. Alcohol acts as a corrosive acid on your stomach lining and internal organs. Over time, this acidic barrage can cause gastritis, ulcers, reflux (heartburn) and diminishes nutrient absorption. A brief explanation of each follows:

  • Gastritis – Inflammation of the stomach lining which can cause long term pain, nausea, vomiting and irritable bowel syndrome. If left untreated for long enough, gastritis can be fatal.
  • Ulcers – Painful sores in the stomach due to excessive acid and deterioration of the stomach lining.
  • Reflux – Alcohol can, and very often does, cause gastric fluids in the stomach to rise up to the esophagus. Reflux causes a burning sensation in the throat and can cause nausea and vomiting. Esophageal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer among alcoholics.
  • Nutrition – Long term alcohol abuse often results in diminished appetite, which causes stress to the stomach lining and can result in further deterioration of the stomach wall.

So what’s the bottom line? If you drank as much as I did for as long as I did, your stomach might be a complete mess when you first get sober. If you have experienced any level of pain, discomfort or grumbling in your belly in early recovery, most likely you have done some damage to the lining of your stomach.

The good news is that with time and some simple nutritional changes you can reverse the damage.

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But you have to be patient. The very fact that you’re no longer pouring liquid acid (alcohol) into your body is a great first step. But you also will need to develop some wise eating habits which I will discuss later. For now, if you’re having stomach pain and discomfort in early recovery, just know that it’s common and even normal and won’t last forever (if the pain is severe or you experience bleeding, please consult a physician).

Over time, with a few simple dietary changes coupled with more sleep and a body that no longer consumes alcohol, your stomach pain will diminish and hopefully disappear.

*Health Tip: If you need temporary relief from stomach pain, a glass of milk can quickly coat your stomach and bring some relief. Also, over-the-counter products can help diminish stomach discomfort. These are short term solutions, but they can help.


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2 thoughts on “How Alcohol Abuse Harms Your Stomach”

  1. Pingback: The Truth About Early Sobriety - Addiction Crush

  2. Pingback: An Alcoholics Daily Routine; A Journal Excerpt from My Life as a Practicing Alcoholic - Addiction Crush

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