Destination Hope Blog » Effects of Alcohol Abuse on the Skeletal System

Effects of Alcohol Abuse on the Skeletal System

The effects of alcohol abuse go well beyond the body’s digestive system.  In fact, alcohol abuse impacts every system in the body. If you or someone you love is abusing alcohol, do you know how it impacts their body?  Today we’re going to explore how alcoholism and alcohol abuse effect the skeletal system.

It has been shown that moderate to heavy drinking decreases the body’s ability to form new bone and slows healing time of fracture. Men are more likely to show a negative effect of alcohol abuse on their skeletal structure than are women, but that doesn’t mean the skeletal systems of women aren’t at risk for the effects of alcohol abuse.

Beyond the increased risk of fractures from intoxicated falls and accidents are nutrient absorption issues, bone formation and cellular-level disruptions.

A Closer Look at the Effects of Alcohol Abuse on the Skeletal System

Osteoporosis, Nutritional Deficiency and Hormones

Alcohol interferes with many body functions and lowers formation of bone cells. Bones need new cell production and good blood circulation to remain healthy. When the bones do not get this nutrition and support they become fragile and develop osteoporosis.

Weak bones are more likely to fracture and are slower to heal after injury. Those with alcohol abuse problems have a higher risk of developing a variety of nutritional problems. Alcohol affects nutrient absorption and many alcoholics do not live a lifestyle supportive of good nutrition.

Malnutrition may result and negatively impact production of healthy bone cells. Alcohol also blocks the body’s absorption of calcium from the diet, calcium is vital to good bone health.

The effects of alcohol abuse do not happen only to people who drink excessively or in large amounts. It has been demonstrated that drinking as little as 2 to 3 ounces of alcohol daily causes the stomach to not absorb calcium properly.

It also interferes with the pancreas and the absorption of both calcium and vitamin D. Alcohol affects the liver where vitamin D becomes activated for calcium absorption. Clinical studies have shown alcohol increases the levels of the chemicals parathyroid hormone and cortisol.

Cortisol and alcohol abuse can slow bone formation and speed up bone breakdown. The increase in parathyroid hormone also causes the body to draw calcium out of the bones for other functions.

One of the interesting effects of alcohol abuse is the impact it has on hormones such as estrogen. A study from Loyola University published by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism indicates even moderate drinking affects estrogen production. Low estrogen production in teenage girls has a lifelong impact on the reproductive system and bone formation.

Skeletal Injuries and Accidents

Alcohol use affects balance and decision-making skills, often leading to injuries. Drinking is responsible for many car accidents and other traumatic skeletal injuries. Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies from chronic drinking can lead to peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage in the hands and feet.

With a skeleton already weakened due to the effects of alcohol abuse, the risk of fractures from such incidents increases. Chronic drinking has both short and long-term effects on the skeletal system, both in the risk of injury while intoxicated, and the effects of weakened bones due to chronic alcohol abuse.

If you or someone you love is suffering alcohol abuse and alcoholism, substance dependency or any type of addiction, please call us today. Our addiction treatment counselors can help you deal with physical, emotional and psychological consequences of drug and alcohol abuse.

Substance abuse treatment is effective, safe and has helped many men reclaim their lives. Destination Hope is a full service drug, alcohol and dual diagnosis treatment facility in Florida for men suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues.