How Drugs & Alcohol Damage the Body

The following is a very brief description of the major areas of the body that alcohol and drugs impact, along with some general recommendations (Rx:) for recovery.

Skin and Hair - Depletes body of nutrients for healthy looking hair and skin.Rx: Nutrient dense foods; particularly Vitamins A, C, protein and zinc rich foods.
Heart and Circulation - Muscle wasting (loss) due to poor protein intake. Inflammation often occurs, along with increase of fat deposits and high blood pressure.Rx: Low fat diet, adequate protein, and regular exercise.
Liver - Reduced vitamin and mineral storage; overworked liver swells preventing bile production and filtering operation , poor appetite.Rx: High calorie, nutrient dense foods, rich protein, moderate fat along with vitamin mineral supplement.
Pancreas - Irritation causes swelling which may block flow of enzymes into stomach resulting in digestive difficulties and diabetes.Rx: Nutrient rich foods, small frequent meals
Kidneys - Inflammation, frequent infections, increased water output resulting in excess nutrient loss.Rx: Nutrient-rich foods high potassium foods and limited caffeine.
Central Nervous System & Hypothalamus - Alcohol and drugs irritate, sedate and aggravate nervous system. Affects memory, ability to think, coordination. Alcohol kills brain cells that are not regenerated. The appetite control center sends confused messages about hunger, thirst.Rx: Rest, nutrient rich foods Including high tryptophan & tyrosine foods, physical activity, multi-vitamin/mineral plus B complex.
Mucous Membranes - Irritates and sedates membranes, Including esophagus, stomach & rectum. Balanced nutrition can help rebuild these tissues.Rx: Nutrient dense foods high in Vitamin A (orange vegetables) and Vitamin C and limit caffeine intake.
Stomach - Irritates stomach – increasing risk of ulcers, gastric distress.Rx: Small frequent meals, snacks. Limit caffeine during distress
Intestines - Slows down or speeds up transit time; increasing risk of poor absorption and certain types of cancer.Rx: High fiber intake, plenty of water and exercise. Limit caffeine during distress
Rectum - Poor elimination or diarrhea may result in hemorrhoids.Rx: Higher fiber foods, rutin (a mineral), water. exercise.
Blood Measurements - Blood levels of many nutrients are affected by drugs and alcohol. Cholesterol levels may appear normal while not accurately measuring cholesterol intake.Rx: Testing is not recommended until six to twelve weeks after sobriety to ensure accurate readings.

From the Eating Awareness Training and Recovery Program from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital of Boston, MA.