Heavy alcohol use can cause a number of health problems, especially if you binge drink or suffer from an alcohol addiction.

One of the most common health problems that arise is gut problems, which can involve a wide variety of health issues which require treatment to overcome.

Find out the relationship between alcohol and gut health and the main risks here.


Is Alcohol Bad for Your Gut Health?

Alcohol can have negative effects on gut health, which is why binge drinking and alcoholism are not recommended.

While moderate alcohol consumption may not cause significant harm to everyone, excessive or chronic alcohol intake can lead to various problems in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

From increased risk of cancers to liver and bowel problems, alcohol can cause a number of issues for your gut. Find out 5 common problems below.


5 Problems Caused by Alcohol on Gut Health

Alcohol can cause a number of gut problems, including:

Digestive Issues

Alcohol can irritate the lining of the stomach and intestines, leading to symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain.

Alcohol abuse can directly irritate the gastrointestinal tract which increases stomach acid production, disrupts gut motility, and weakens the intestinal barrier. Reducing alcohol consumption or abstaining from it altogether can help alleviate or prevent these digestive problems.

Leaky Gut Syndrome

Alcohol can weaken the intestinal barrier, allowing harmful substances like bacteria, toxins, and undigested food particles to leak into the bloodstream. This can trigger inflammation and contribute to various health problems.

Leaky gut syndrome can cause undigested food particles, toxins, and bacteria, to pass through the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream which can trigger an immune response and cause inflammation throughout the body.

Liver Damage

The liver metabolises alcohol, but excessive drinking can overwhelm its capacity which can lead to liver inflammation, fatty liver disease, and even liver cirrhosis.

Liver damage can indirectly impact gut health since the liver plays a crucial role in detoxifying substances that enter the body through the digestive system.

Some of the most common liver diseases include:

  • Cirrhosis: Chronic liver damage can lead to the formation of scar tissue in the liver, a condition known as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis progressively impairs liver function and can lead to serious complications, including portal hypertension (high blood pressure in the liver), liver cancer, and liver failure.
  • Liver Failure: Advanced liver damage, such as severe cirrhosis or acute liver injury, can result in liver failure, where the liver is no longer able to function properly. Liver failure is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention and may necessitate liver transplantation.
  • Ascites: Cirrhosis can cause fluid accumulation in the abdomen, a condition known as ascites. Ascites can lead to abdominal swelling, discomfort, and difficulty breathing, and increases the risk of infections and other complications.


Gastritis is commonly caused by irritation, inflammation, or erosion of the stomach lining. Alcohol abuse can contribute to the development of gastritis, as alcohol can irritate and inflame the stomach lining.

Alcohol can also increase stomach acid production, which further contributes to inflammation and damage.

Gastritis may cause discomfort and symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and indigestion, and can cause further complications if left untreated such as stomach ulcers, increased risk of cancer, and more.

Increased Risk of GI Disorders

Chronic alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of gastrointestinal disorders such as pancreatitis and certain types of cancer, including oesophageal and colorectal cancer.

These conditions can further compromise gut health and overall well-being, so quitting alcohol and improving physical health is important to avoid these risks.


Signs of Poor Gut Health

Poor gut health can cause a number of symptoms and often affects not just digestion but overall well-being. Some of the most common signs of poor gut health include persistent gas and bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, and heartburn.

Unexpected weight gain or loss, despite no significant changes in diet or activity level, can also be linked to gut health issues affecting metabolism and nutrient absorption.

Poor gut health can also cause fatigue and low energy levels if nutrients are not being absorbed properly, as well as mood changes and joint pain.

If you are experiencing any or a few of these symptoms and you drink large amounts of alcohol, reach out to your local GP for medical advice and tests to determine the cause of your gut problems.


Health Benefits of Reducing Alcohol Consumption

Long term and heavy alcohol abuse can cause a number of negative effects, from gut health to poor mental health and increased health risks.

The physical and mental health benefits of reducing or quitting alcohol consumption are endless, but some of the main benefits include:

  • Reduced risk of strokes, heart disease and other cardiovascular problems
  • Improved mental health
  • Better sleep quality
  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced risk of alcohol-related cancers
  • Reduced risk of liver problems, including liver disease, alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and more.
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Reduced risk of alcohol-related dementia

These are just a few of the health benefits that can be experienced by those who quit or heavily reduce alcohol consumption. If this is something you feel unable to manage by yourself, reach out for professional help and treatment.


Support for Alcohol Abuse

If you are concerned about your alcohol use and health, get in touch with our team today. Whether you are noticing health problems that are a result of your alcohol use or you feel out of control with your drinking habits, seek help and treatment today.

We offer medical withdrawal and detox to help you safely recover from alcohol addiction, which is especially important for people with additional gut health problems.

Residential rehabilitation offers around-the-clock support from medical professionals and addiction experts, making it the safest form of recovery treatment.

Phone us on 0800 880 7596 or fill out our contact form for more information!

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: April 26, 2024

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.