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  • Alcoholic gastritis is a disorder that involves inflammation of the stomach lining due to heavy drinking or alcohol abuse. There is acute gastritis and also a chronic form.

    Gastritis may first start off as stomach pain or heartburn, but as it progresses, it can become much worse if alcohol consumption is not avoided completely.

    Causes Of Alcoholic Gastritis

    Just as the name suggests, regular heavy drinking of alcohol is the main cause of alcoholic gastritis. How does this happen? Alcohol (or food) goes through the digestive system and ends up in the stomach where it’s broken down. 

    Alcohol acts as an irritant to the stomach. While small amounts won’t hurt it, large amounts will begin to erode the stomach lining and cause a number of unpleasant side effects and symptoms.

    Once the stomach lining is broken down, it can cause the stomach to be more vulnerable to the acidic juices that are normally found in the body and used to digest food. 

    Other Irritants Of The Stomach

    Alcoholic gastritis can also be brought on by other irritants of the stomach. Some of the most common irritants include:

    • stress
    • caffeine
    • smoking
    • high-fat diets
    • acid reflux
    • infections
    • autoimmune disorders
    • helicobacter pylori infection or h.pylori infection 
    • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (nsaids) like aspirin or ibuprofen

    Symptoms Of Alcoholic Gastritis

    The symptoms of gastritis brought on by alcohol use can be unpleasant and may lead to more serious issues if not treated properly. 

    Some of the most common symptoms include:

    • upper abdominal pain
    • nausea 
    • vomiting
    • belching
    • hiccups
    • bloating
    • regurgitation of food
    • loss of appetite

    If untreated, the symptoms can become long-term. The long-term effects may include:

    • tear of the esophagus
    • peritonitis
    • sepsis
    • stomach ulcers
    • ​peptic ulcers
    • anemia
    • Mallory-Weiss tears
    • upper gastrointestinal tract bleeding
    • increased risk of stomach cancer
    • upper gastrointestinal tract infection

    Risk Factors For Alcoholic Gastritis

    Whether you get alcoholic gastritis or not depends on a number of risk factors. Some of the most common risk factors for alcoholic gastritis include:

    • diets high in fat, oil, preservatives
    • smoking or illicit drug use
    • history of heavy alcohol use
    • immune system problems or autoimmune conditions 
    • long-term use of medications for acid reflux and indigestion
    • frequent use of pain medication, especially when mixed with alcohol
    • stressful lifestyle

    Alcoholic Gastritis Treatment 

    Preventing alcoholic gastritis involves cutting down or stopping drinking altogether. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done when dealing with addiction. 

    Once you’ve been diagnosed with alcoholic gastritis it is much more extensive and involves treating both the gastritis and the alcohol use at the same time.

    Alcohol Addiction Treatment

    If you’ve been drinking heavily for a prolonged period of time and need help stopping, medical detox followed by inpatient or outpatient treatment is likely one of your best options. If alcohol use is not stopped, it can turn into chronic gastritis and end up being a lifelong condition.

    Inpatient Treatment

    Inpatient treatment centers provide detox programs, medical care, and individual and group therapy. They not only give you a safe place to withdraw from alcohol but may also be able start you on treatment for alcoholic gastritis.

    Partial Hospitalization Programs 

    Partial hospitalization programs offer detox programs and therapy for those who have a busier or less flexible schedule. They run for about six hours a day and may provide treatment for co-occurring disorders like alcohol use disorder and alcoholic gastritis.


    If alcoholic gastritis is severe enough, an endoscopy or biopsy may be ordered to determine if surgery might be needed. 

    Surgery may be necessary if there is a perforation or an obstruction in the stomach that needs to be repaired or if there is internal bleeding due to a hole in the stomach. If surgery is not performed, it can be fatal.


    There are also some medications that can help with alcoholic gastritis and minimize the damage, including:

    • proton pump inhibitors to reduce the production of stomach acid 
    • probiotics to promote the growth of gastric bacteria
    • antibiotics to control gastrointestinal bacteria
    • antacids to neutralize stomach acid

    Lifestyle Changes

    Your doctor or healthcare provider is also likely to recommend you stay away from spicy foods and acidic beverages like coffee, orange juice, tomato juice, and sodas. They can irritate your stomach over time. 

    They may also suggest you cut down on smoking, over-the-counter pain medications, and aspirin as they can affect your stomach as well.

    To learn about our treatment options for alcohol abuse, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care - Gastritis: Overview
    National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases - Treatment of Gastritis & Gastropathy
    National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus - Gastritis
    StatPearls - Gastritis

    Medically Reviewed by
    Manish Mishra, MBBS
    on July 4, 2022
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