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How Does Alcohol Cause Pancreatitis?

A smiling woman holds a bag of fresh fruits and vegetables.
The pancreas plays a vital role in digestion and blood sugar control.


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It’s well known that alcohol can damage the liver, but what you might not know is that heavy drinking also puts your pancreas at risk.

Before we get into that, let’s take a look at the role of the pancreas. Located deep in the abdomen, the pancreas releases both digestive enzymes and hormones, including insulin. A healthy pancreas aids in digestion and keeps blood glucose levels under control.

The Dangers of Alcohol-Induced Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas is inflamed. Acute pancreatitis lasts only for a short period of time and most people fully recover from the condition. Chronic pancreatitis, on the other hand, is a long-term inflammation of the pancreas that is sometimes referred to as alcohol-induced.

Symptoms of both acute and chronic pancreatitis include severe pain in the upper abdomen, swelling in the abdomen, nausea, vomiting, fever and increased heart rate. People with chronic pancreatitis can also experience weight loss and malnutrition. The condition can lead to diabetes if insulin-producing cells are damaged.

Preventing Alcoholic Pancreatitis

About 70 percent of chronic pancreatitis cases are caused by heavy drinking. Drinking in moderation can significantly reduce your chances of developing the condition.

True “low risk” drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as no more than three drinks on any single day and no more than seven drinks per week for women and no more than four drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week for men.

If you’ve tried to control your drinking habits and can’t, you may need help. Despite what some people may tell you, it takes a lot more than willpower to beat addiction. What’s more, quitting alcohol cold turkey can lead to seizures and even death.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment

At The Raleigh House in Denver, Colorado, we take a whole-person approach to recovery. That means we don’t just treat the physical addiction. We also help you heal psychologically, mentally, spiritually, mentally and socially. Rehab isn’t just about giving something up; it’s about getting your life back. Fill out our form or contact us today to learn more about the alcohol addiction treatment program at The Raleigh House.

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