Substance use disorder is a heavy burden to carry. It affects every aspect of a person’s life, from social skills to body health. Those who abuse drugs or alcohol have the potential to suffer from clinical impairments. This is sure to have a lasting effect on a person’s professional or social life.
In addition to all of this, substance abuse can also have a monumental impact on a person’s diet. Alcoholism and drug abuse have often been linked to poor nutrition, which has the potential to lead to massive health issues. The worst part is, the health issues come not too long after the substance abuse begins.
Believe it or not, there is a connection between body weight and alcoholism. This may leave people to wonder, can you drink alcohol and still lose weight?
Does Substance Abuse Impact Your Metabolism?
When a person eats food, the body breaks it down providing nutrients and energy. This process is what metabolism is. The body has to receive all the nutrients and energy it needs to perform well. This has all to do with growth, energy, and recovering from injury. At the risk of going to extremes, when a person practices poor dietary habits, it can lead to organ failure, disease, or in some cases even brain damage.
As far as alcohol is concerned, the human body does nothing with it. Once alcohol is ingested, the body breaks it down quickly. In addition to this, the reason alcohol breaks down so quickly is that it does not provide nutrients to the body. It does, however, make people feel full when they drink it because alcohol contains empty calories. The real problem arises when alcohol starts doing more damage to the body.
When it comes to abusing alcohol, the more someone drinks, the more damage occurs to the liver and intestinal tract. In this case, the body’s ability to absorb vitamins and minerals diminishes. This has the potential to be disastrous to the human body.
Which Nutrients Are Necessary?
We all know that nutrients are necessary for the body to obtain peak performance. There are many nutrients that the body can absorb to help itself perform better. Amino acids are a good source of nutrients; they are found in foods with a good amount of protein. They also allow the body to receive energy and repair damaged cells.
This is imperative because when alcohol enters the body, the liver and intestines send important cells to remove the alcohol. The body can’t use amino acids to their full potential if there aren’t enough healthy cells in the liver or intestine. This isn’t just the case with amino acids, but other nutrients as well; these nutrients are necessary to prevent any damage to the organs.
Lastly, the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood has a significant impact on digestion. If there’s a vast amount of alcohol content in the blood, digestion can be slowed down massively. This is dangerous because in this case, it will take longer for the body to absorb the nutrients it needs after digestion.
How Does Alcohol Affect the Liver?
When someone abuses alcohol, their metabolism speeds up. This is because the liver is working overtime to ensure that the alcohol in the body is being broken down and dispelled. This, however, won’t allow the liver to break down carbohydrates. The body also needs nutrients like this and others for cells to function properly in the body.
What’s interesting is that the liver stores extra fat from glucose so that it can provide energy if necessary. However, it cannot use this fat when a person consumes large amounts of alcohol. Instead, the liver begins to swell up. As a result of alcohol abuse over time, alcoholic steatohepatitis may also develop.
When someone is suffering from alcoholic steatohepatitis, the initial stages of liver damage may not show. This doesn’t mean they never will, however. Symptoms such as fatigue, vomiting, and fever begin to show themselves in late-stage liver damage.
What Are The Signs of Late-Stage Liver Damage?
Liver damage is inevitable when abusing alcohol. Some of the signs and symptoms of late-stage liver damage include the following:
- Itchy skin
- Appetite loss
- Cirrhosis of the liver
- Intestinal bleeding
Can You Avoid Liver Damage?
It is possible to reverse the damage that has already been done to your liver. Treatment for alcohol abuse is imperative in this regard and will help a person prevent further damage. This is also true if liver damage reaches late-stage. Ceasing alcohol consumption will slow the progression of liver damage.
Often, people who abuse substances will tend to experiment. This could mean branching out into substances they’ve never tried before or taken more of a substance they have. In addition to this, people also begin mixing drugs and alcohol to get a different experience. This is risky as it increases the risk of dangerous behavior due to a severe lack of judgment. It will also increase the chances of experiencing effects like breathing problems, vertigo, nausea, and fainting.
In addition to all of this, there is also the risk of overdose and death. Drug and alcohol abuse sends the mind to an uncontrollable place. Over time, this abuse can also make it impossible to maintain healthy dietary habits. As a result, this could lead to serious health problems and dramatic weight shifts.
Alcohol and Body Weight: Does Alcohol Abuse Affect Body Weight?
When a person abuses alcohol, the body is interrupted from receiving the nutrients and vitamins it needs to perform well. Not only that but a good amount of intestinal damage is done. When the intestines are damaged, the digestive system slows down the process of digestion. This could lead to loss of appetite or constipation. This could cause a person to stop eating and lose weight.
While this may not mean anything for a night out with drinks, a long period of abusing alcohol would cause weight loss. Consistently eating less because of prolonged alcohol abuse will cause a person’s weight to diminish rapidly. Not only that, but the number of nutrients the body needs to perform at its best would be scarce, if not completely absent.
Poor nutrition, overall, could produce a variety of unhealthy results such as:
- Heart attacks
- Heart disease
- Tooth decay
- Liver cancer
- Eating disorders
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
How Does Drinking Alcohol on an Empty Stomach Affect You?
There are many harmful habits one may develop when consistently abusing alcohol. One of these is drinking on an empty stomach. This is a rather harmful way to behave as it can drop one’s blood sugar to significantly low levels. Not only that, but this could also lead to glucose intolerance.
Alcohol and the Brain
Again alcohol can have an impact on weight loss or gain. This is not just because of the reasons stated previously; alcohol abuse can lead to weight loss or gain because of its impact on the brain. For example, if a person’s stomach is empty, alcohol can leave the stomach and reach the brain. This process is slowed down when there is food in the stomach because the alcohol is being soaked up. However, if the stomach is empty, it can reach the blood much quicker.
The amount of time that the liver takes to process alcohol is particularly interesting as it takes about two hours to process one drink. This, however, is not the case if alcohol has been binged. In this case, the alcohol circulates through the body until the liver can process it. This is very dangerous for the brains and organs.
Alcohol’s Effect on the Mind and Body
It’s no secret that alcohol affects the mind in many different ways, whether it impairs vision, judgment, speech, or motor skills. As a result of this, a person may eat much less than they need to, eat much more than they need to, or eat something they shouldn’t. Suffering from a lack of judgment, vision, or motor skills can lead to rapid weight loss or gain. Not only that, but if someone gains too much weight, they could develop type 2 diabetes or heart disease.
How Does Alcohol Abuse Lead to Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes develops from alcohol abuse as a result of not eating enough food, losing weight, leading to low blood sugar. This persistent low blood sugar leads to the development of glucose intolerance. When the body utilizes glucose to process a high concentration of alcohol, the body develops an intolerance to glucose.
On the other hand, there’s also alcohol abuse that leads to obesity. In this scenario, type 2 diabetes is the direct result of high blood sugar. When a person eats too much, the fats and carbs they consume can’t be broken down fast enough. As a result, high levels of glucose develop in the blood, and the liver cannot process it because of the vast concentration of alcohol. In summary, obesity combined with high blood sugar eventually causes type 2 diabetes.
Get The Help You Need Today
Substance abuse is a road you don’t have to travel alone; At New Directions for Women, we are here to walk alongside you in whatever capacity you may need. There are resources available to help you such as therapy, detox, and more. If you or a loved one are suffering from a substance use disorder, you can contact us.