Treating Alcohol Use Disorder At Discovery Institute
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Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD
Dr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.
Kidney Pain Kidney Stones And Kidney Infections: An Alcohol Link
What about the kidney pain some people claim to feel after a night of drinking? According to Dr. Bobart, theres no research to suggest a link between alcohol and kidney pain. But alcohol acts as a diuretic and can leave you dehydrated.
Similarly, theres minimal evidence to suggest that alcohol increases the risk of kidney stones or kidney infections. We do know that people who dont drink enough fluids have a greater chance of developing kidney stones. So, people who drink heavily and are often dehydrated may be at greater risk though the science of alcohols role in kidney stones is still unclear, he adds.
What is clear is that heavy drinking takes a toll on your organs, kidneys included. Many people drink more than they realize. In the U.S., heavy drinking is defined as:
- For women: More than seven drinks per week or more than three drinks in a single day.
- For men: More than 14 drinks per week, or more than four drinks in a single day.
I urge anyone who has any trouble with alcohol to seek medical help, says Dr. Bobart. Doing so is nothing to be ashamed of. We have a lot of avenues to help people, and there are resources out there to get people the help they need.
Drinking Alcohol Affects Your Kidneys
Drinking alcohol affects many parts of your body, including your kidneys. A little alcoholone or two drinks now and thenusually has no serious effects. However, excessive drinkingmore than four drinks dailycan affect your health and worsen kidney disease. When experts talk about one drink, they are talking about one 12ounce bottle of beer, one glass of wine, or one ounce of hard liquor.
The Centers for Disease Control estimates that most American adults drink alcohol. Too often, some of these regular drinkers have more than five drinks at one time. In fact, about a quarter of drinkers reported they had done this on at least one day in the past year. Binge drinking has harmful effects on the kidney that can even lead to acute kidney failure. A sudden drop in kidney function is called acute kidney failure. This often goes away after a time, but it can occasionally lead to lasting kidney damage.
Even without binge drinking, regularly drinking too much too often can also damage the kidneys. The damage occurs more slowly. Regular heavy drinking has been found to double the risk chronic kidney disease, which does not go away over time. Even higher risk of kidney problems has been found for heavy drinkers who also smoke. Smokers who are heavy drinkers have about five times the chance of developing CKD than people who dont smoke or drink alcohol to excess.
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Treatment For Alcohol Misuse And Kidney Disease
Treatment for AUD varies depending on your needs. If you struggle with chronic alcohol misuse, treatment begins with a medical detox program. Afterward, treatment may involve a variety of therapies in either inpatient or outpatient settings.
Treatment for AUD may include:
- Detox and withdrawal Medical detox provides a safe place for you to withdrawal from alcohol. Detox typically lasts up to 7 days, but that also depends on the person.
- Psychotherapy Therapies in individual and group settings are a vital part of treatment. Therapy sessions can help you better understand yourself and your issue with alcohol. Because family is crucial in treatment, family therapy is often part of treatment.
- Medication management For some people with AUD, the use of medications in treatment is vital. The changes that alcohol causes to the brain can be lethal when a person stops drinking.
- Treatment for other mental health issues Many people who misuse alcohol also have a mental disorder. As a result, dual diagnosis treatment offers whole-person treatment. It also lowers a persons relapse rate.
- Holistic or alternative therapies Many treatment centers offer holistic therapies. These therapies may include yoga, meditation, mindfulness.
Preventing Kidney Damage And Disease
To keep your kidneys healthy, it is important to always check with your healthcare provider to ensure it is safe for you to consume alcohol. Even if it is safe, moderation is key. At Summit Medical Clinic, we provide consultation and ongoing care for the prevention and treatment of kidney-related diseases. Schedule an appointment by calling 630-1006 or visiting our website.
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How Many Units Can You Drink
Alcohol units were first introduced in the UK in 1987 to help the public keep track of their alcohol consumption.
Units explain the amount of pure alcohol in your drink. The size of your drink and the strength of the alcohol can affect the number of units, so its important to check this if youre keeping track each week.
Currently, men and women shouldnt consume more than 14 units in a week. You should aim to spread your drinking over 3 days or more. And you can cut down your alcohol consumption by having a few drink-free days in the week.
Potential Complications From Chronic Kidney Disease Include:
- End-stage kidney disease, requiring either kidney dialysis or transplant
- Immune response decrease, increasing vulnerability to infection
- Retention of fluid, which can lead to swelling in feet, legs and arms, high blood pressure, or fluid buildup in the lungs
- Hyperkalemia, a sudden rise in blood potassium levels, which can damage the hearts ability to function and can be life-threatening
- Pericarditis, an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the heart
- Pregnancy complications
- Sexual problems, including decreased sex drive, reduced fertility or erectile dysfunction
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How Can Kidney Disease Be Prevented
Preventing the risk of kidney disease entails taking care of your heart and weight. This might mean eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, exercising, quitting smoking, and limiting alcohol consumption. For most people, simply scaling back drinks to one or two a week is enough to dodge this particular bullet. For many others, especially those who are struggling with alcoholism or who have a history of alcoholism in the family, a complete ban on alcohol might be the safest option.
WebMD also recommends getting tested regularly, especially if you have a higher chance of developing kidney disease than the general population. If you have a history of kidney problems in your family, if you have other kidney-related problems like diabetes or high blood pressure, or if you are dealing with alcohol abuse, regular testing can uncover the warning signs of kidney disease, opening the door to preventative treatment.
Testing can include urine tests to check the chemical composition of urine, an imbalance of which would suggest that the kidneys are in trouble blood pressure readings and glucose tests to measure blood sugar and hemoglobin A1C, which shows the average blood sugar level in the last three months.
Drink To Your Kidneys’ Health
Drinking Alcohol in Moderation May Actually Be Good for Your Kidneys
May 12, 2005 — A drink a day may do your kidneys more good than harm, rather than the other way around.
Although some previous studies show that alcohol use may be harmful to the kidneys and increase the risk of kidney failure, a large new study indicates that the reverse might be true — at least when alcohol is consumed in moderation.
If those results hold up to further scrutiny, researchers say preventing kidney failure may be yet another benefit of drinking alcohol in moderation, in addition to other recently discovered perks, such as reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. Moderation is defined as no more than two alcoholic drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. A “standard drink” is defined as 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.
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Alcohol May Affect The Acid
Kidneys play an essential role in determining the rate at which metabolic reactions take place by regulating acidity. This is because substantial metabolic reactions that are important in life are sensitive to the acidity of the surrounding fluid.The bodies metabolic balance interferes with the use of liquor, which changes the regulation of acidity.
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How Does Alcohol Affect Your Kidneys
The effects of alcohol on your kidneys can lead to many health issues. Find out how treatment for alcohol misuse at Discovery Institute can reduce the risk of kidney disease.
Reviewed by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD
Get started on your road to recovery.
We all know that drinking too much alcohol is bad for our health. But, this is especially true for alcohol and your kidneys. Having a few drinks now and then wont typically affect your health. However, misusing alcohol and alcohol use disorder can affect the kidneys and lead to kidney disease. If you are struggling with AUD, treatment at Discovery Institute can help you.
The Kidneys And Other Organs
Drinking too much alcohol can also impact blood pressure, elevating it a common cause of kidney disease. Not only is alcohol use affecting kidneys directly, but also indirectly through the other consequences that can occur. Along with heightened blood pressure, alcohol use has a serious effect on the liver functioning and can actually lead to major liver damage and even cirrhosis in some cases.
Unfortunately, in order for the kidneys to function at the highest level, they rely on the proper functioning of the liver. If there is impairment in liver function, it can lead to decreased ability of the kidneys. In fact, most patients in the United States who are diagnosed with both liver disease and kidney problems are alcohol dependent.
For alcohol-related problems, most kidney dysfunction will occur during excessive, or binge, drinking sessions.
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Alcohol Dehydrates The Body Which Affects The Ability Of Kidneys To Function Properly
Excessive liquor consumption can have a short-term effect on the kidneys, which is dehydration. This affects the ability of the organ to regulate the acid-base, bodys fluids, and also the electrolyte balance. This is because liquor selectively increases renal perfusion and basal metabolic rates of renal tubes hence causing an increase in diuresis, leading to massive dehydration. Dehydrated kidneys are unable to function properly, and the subsequent consumption of the next portion of ethanol makes this situation even worse, which eventually leads to the malfunction of the organ.
The Function Of The Kidneys
Theres nothing unhealthy about the moderate consumption of alcohol, says the National Kidney Foundation, and there are even health benefits to one or two drinks now and then. Drinking too much, however, causes a swath of medical problems and can trigger the development of kidney disease.
One of the main responsibilities of the kidneys is to sift out harmful substances from the blood, and alcohol is one such substance. Small amounts of alcohol can be easily filtered and disposed of, but too much alcohol affects how the kidneys work, impairing them to the point of not being able to properly purify the blood of the alcohol content. Alcohol is capable of undoing the kidneys ability to filter out toxins, and while this is not usually a problem with normal drinking, it becomes a serious problem when the drinking is abusive or excessive.
Additionally, since the kidneys are responsible for keeping the right amount of water in the body, compromised kidneys cannot stop alcohol from drying out the body beyond safe levels, affecting not only the kidneys themselves, but even basic cells and organs in other systems of the body.
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How Much Alcohol Is Safe
Differences in the way alcohol is metabolized by the body are influenced by factors such as age, gender, body weight, and genetic factors. For example, women absorb more alcohol from each drink than do men and tend to be more susceptible to alcohol-related liver damage. The Canadian Liver Foundation supports the level of alcohol consumption proposed in Canadas Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines: 10 standard drinks a week for women with no more than two drinks a day 15 standard drinks a week for men, with no more than three drinks a day. For a definition of a standard drink, please see the table below. Drinking alcohol every day, as well as binge drinking , can be harmful to your liver. If you already have a liver disease, the safest amount of alcohol is no alcohol at all. Do not drink and drive.
How To Protect The Kidneys From Alcohols Effects
The simple solution for protecting kidneys from the damaging effect of long-term alcoholic consumption is to stop drinking. This may not be practical for some moderate drinkers, although heavy drinkers and those who have been diagnosed as alcoholic or alcohol-dependent may be more motivated to change their lifestyle, get professional treatment and learn to live alcohol-free.
Anyone who wants to be as healthy as possible can help prevent the damage alcohol may do over the long-term by cutting back on the amount and frequency of alcohol they consume.
Simply eating a meal before heavy drinking will not exert a protective effect. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption will exact a toll on the body. Avoiding the combination of drugs and alcohol, including prescription medications, is another way to provide some protection for the kidneys due to the one-two punch of these powerful substances.
Those with existing kidney problems, diabetics and other risk factors should be wary of drinking alcohol. Always check with the doctor before deciding that drinking is an acceptable risk. It may not be, particularly for your kidneys.
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Alcohol And Kidney Stones: Whats The Relationship
There is not significant evidence that alcohol directly causes kidney stones. Alcohol use particularly excessive alcohol use in which a woman drinks four or more alcoholic drinks in a single occasion or a man drinks five or more drinks during a single session is, however, linked to the development of a variety of other health problems. Some of these health issues include kidney damage, kidney failure, high blood pressure, various cancers, weakened immune system, mental health problems, social problems, and alcohol use disorders .2,3 Some of these issues directly or indirectly negatively impact the renal system.
Concentrated urine can occur when the body is dehydrateda leading cause of kidney stones.3 Dehydration can occur when people do not drink enough water to help the kidneys remove waste from the blood.3
Other causes and risk factors of kidney stones include:
- Past kidney stones.
- Conditions that causes your urine to contain high levels of cystine, oxalate, uric acid or calcium.
- Conditions that cause swelling or irritation in your bowel or your joints.
- Certain medicines, such as diuretics or calcium-based antacids.
If you are concerned about the way your drinking may be impacting your health, treatment for compulsive drinking can help. Reach out to our admissions navigators to learn about your alcohol treatment options at .
What Other Kidney Issues Are Associated With Alcohol/drinking
Kidneys are vital to the overall healthy functioning of the human body and serve as filtration devices for any harmful or toxic substance that enters your bloodstream. When someone drinks in excess, the kidneys have to work harder to filter the bodys blood and can cause immense stress on the kidneys. The dehydrating effect of alcohol can negatively impact your bodys cell and organ functions. Additionally, alcohol in the body can impact the hormones that contribute to healthy kidney function in your body.3
Regular heavy drinking has been known to double the risk of developing chronic kidney disease. Those who smoke cigarettes in addition to drinking heavily are about five times more likely to develop kidney disease than those who only drink excessively.3
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Alcohol Affects The Liver Which Makes Kidneys Work Harder To Filter Blood
A liver is a major organ which can be affected by excess alcohol consumption. When the liver is affected and unable to handle the amount of ethanol consumed, the kidneys take over some part of its work. The rate of blood flow to the part of the body is kept at a constant level for it to filter blood. When the liver is impaired, the balancing act is affected, hence overworking the organ, which leads to its dysfunction.