Chronic alcoholism and alcohol abuse are problematic issues that impact individuals on a global scale. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 2 billion people worldwide consume alcohol; in the United States, excessive alcohol use is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of death each year. Alcoholism impacts people economically, socially, medically and nutritionally. With such significant consequences resulting from alcoholism, a focus on prevention and treatment measures can help improve prognosis and increase chances for recovery.
Nutritional impact of alcoholism
One interesting component of treatment for alcoholism involves nutritional rehabilitation. Chronic ingestion of alcohol can rapidly strip the body of critical nutrients needed for the body to function adequately. Many of the physical complications that result from alcoholism are the result of nutritional inadequacies. While a multi-specialty treatment approach is most effective for addressing alcoholism’s many complex factors, integrating a nutrition focus can also serve as an important catalyst for healing.
With repeated and chronic alcohol use, healthy and balanced meals are often replaced or missed altogether. As cravings for alcohol intensify and increase, the greater the chance that a person will choose alcohol over eating. This repeated pattern can contribute to malnutrition, as consumption of alcohol over food causes the body to lack needed nutrients. Alcohol abuse and addiction can also interfere with the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients from foods. Some of the key nutrients that are often lacking as a result of alcoholism include but are not limited to protein, vitamins and minerals.
Malnutrition from alcoholism often creates a protein deficiency in the body. Protein is an essential building block of many crucial parts of the body, including cells, tissue, muscles and organs.
As the body and digestive system are exposed to increased amounts of alcohol, food ingestion and absorption can be significantly impaired. This can result in deficiencies of several vitamins that are necessary for basic physiological functions, such as cell maintenance, wound healing and metabolism. Some of the vitamins that alcoholics may be deficient in include vitamins A, D, E, K, and the B vitamins.
Minerals also contribute to many biological processes, and alcohol abuse or addiction can contribute to deficiencies. Some of the common mineral deficiencies that are observed in alcoholics include calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc.
Resulting medical complications
Malnutrition resulting from an alcohol addiction can lead to damaging physical consequences. Prolonged periods of chronic alcohol abuse can leave the body vulnerable to severe medical complications, many of which are caused by inadequate nutrition. This might include liver disease, pancreatitis, and neurological and brain complications.
Pregnant women who abuse alcohol can expose their developing baby to fetal alcohol syndrome and nutritional deficiencies that can prove fatal to the fetus.
The most effective way to repair the medical and nutritional complications that have resulted from alcoholism or alcohol abuse is to seek professional treatment. By disengaged from alcoholic behaviors, practicing sobriety, and receiving necessary treatment, individuals who have been impacted by alcoholism can begin to heal and recover. The good news is that the human body is resilient and, when given the opportunity, can be repaired with proper treatment.
Sovereign Health Treatment Centers of California offer treatment programs for alcoholism recovery, including an alcohol rehabilitation treatment center and an alcohol detox center, which can help an individual achieve recovery and healing. These comprehensive alcohol treatment programs are custom-made to address the unique issues that a person might be facing. If you or a loved one would like to learn more about the options you have to recover from alcoholism, please call (866) 819-0427 for more information.
Written by Crystal Karges, Sovereign Health Group writer