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The Effects of Drug Abuse on Your Pancreas

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Many of the effects of drug abuse on our bodies are well known. Often, because of denial about our drinking and drug problems, we pretend that our bodies can handle the effects of alcohol and other drugs; that it adjusts to our intake and that our bodies work as efficiently as they always have.

However, too much of anything is never a good thing, and in the case of heavy drinking, the pancreas is one of the organs that takes a heavy hit. What exactly are the effects of drug abuse on your pancreas?  To understand the effects, we need to know more about the pancreas.

What is the Pancreas? What does it do?

The pancreas is an organ embedded deep in the center of your body. About the size of a medium banana, it is located between the stomach and the spine. It functions as an endocrine gland, producing several hormones, the most notable of which is insulin.

It also functions as an exocrine gland, secreting digestive enzymes that aid the breakdown of food products from the stomach. Because it is so small, you cannot feel it from the outside of your body, even if something is wrong.  Problems with it are usually not detected until damage is severe enough to involve other organs.

Effects of drug abuse on the pancreas

The most pronounced substance abuse damage to the pancreas is done through alcohol abuse, but damage can also be caused by heroin, cocaine and prescription drug abuse. Heavy consumption of alcohol causes the pancreas to stop secreting digestive enzymes. Instead, the pancreas keeps these enzymes inside and essentially digests itself, damaging the organ’s tissues.

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This results in inflammation leading to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and tachycardia (fast heart rate). There may be many acute instances of inflammation before the condition progresses to chronic pancreatitis. This can result in a severe damage to this organ and the development of diabetes – two effects of drug abuse that you want to avoid. Approximately 50 percent of those with chronic pancreatitis die.

Is it treatable? Is it reversible?

Treatment for pancreatitis varies depending on the severity and longevity of the condition. Acute episodes of inflammation may require hospitalization. Pancreatitis is not curable, but its symptoms can be managed with medication. A change in diet is advisable, as the digestive system is compromised. Ongoing monitoring by your doctor is important, as is testing to determine how much damage has been done. Obviously, drinking and drug abuse must stop to avoid further damage.

The effects of drug abuse on your pancreas are profound. Because this organ is responsible for such vital bodily functions, damage to it affects other systems in your body. Be encouraged, however; to start recovery is to end the damage.

If you or someone you love is suffering from prescription drug abuse, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, substance dependency or any type of addiction, please call us today.  Our addiction treatment counselors can help you deal with the physical, emotional and psychological effects of drug 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 and women suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues.

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