Alcoholic Neuropathy By Gary Hilliard, BS, LCDC

Nov 2, 2022 | Blog, Addiction, Alcohol

The overuse of alcohol leads to multiple physical as well as mental complications in an individual’s life. Some of the more commonly known problems that can arrive with excessive alcohol use are liver disease, heart disease, diabetes, weight issues, Rhinophyma (alcoholic big red nose), rosacea (noticeable red blood vessel in the face), and high blood pressure just to mention a few. There are also mental health symptoms that arise such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, and general displeasure with life.

As common as some of these are with excessive drinking, there is another physical ailment that few know anything about much less talk about. That disease is Alcoholic Neuropathy. Alcoholic Neuropathy is a disease in a person’s nerves directly related to excessive drinking over a while. The nerve damage caused by the disease affects almost any part of the muscular system. Results of this disease lead to the inability to walk, and the inability to handle basic physical functions, and may require surgery if it is determined that surgery can repair the problem, which is not always the case.

How does neuropathy begin?

Neuropathy often begins with numbness in joints or an inability to do a simple physical task that a week ago was common. There is usually severe pain associated with nerve damage caused by neuropathy. This leads to muscle fatigue and weakness and involuntary muscle responses. A person may begin to sense these symptoms when the labor of walking or lifting an arm feels more strenuous than it was previously. Another prominent symptom is a decreased sensation in the joints and muscles of the damaged nerve. If the heavy drinker is seeing evidence of more bruises and scrapes than they are familiar with and cannot remember how these were acquired, it may be the beginning of this diagnosis.

When alcohol neuropathy is developing in the drinker,  a higher degree of pain is associated with minor bumps or scratches. Normal areas of physical life feel more difficult. Signs of alcoholic neuropathy begin with numbness in a joint or the inability to do a simple task that previously was not a problem. Muscle weakness is prominent with this disease as well as gastrointestinal problems.

Alcohol use can cause toxins to build up in the body which is what can cause alcoholic neuropathy. The stress on the liver and kidney with the use of alcohol can lead to a deficiency of vitamins in the body which is also a contributor to the disease. Alcohol use inhibits protein synthesis which is needed to enable muscles to grow or remain strong. The more alcohol use the less the body can perform this function.

How to tell if you are dealing with alcoholic neuropathy:

To determine if alcoholic neuropathy is present in you, you should see your doctor who can run multiple tests including a nerve biopsy. This can show any resulting nerve damage. Treatment for this ailment starts with the cessation of drinking alcohol, the use of vitamins, and time. With proper guidance and the cessation of drinking it is possible to see improvement in a short period. 

The best way to prevent alcoholic neuropathy is to monitor and limit your amount of drinking. If this is difficult for you, professional help may be needed. At New Dimensions Day Treatment Centers we specialize in helping a person learn how to live without alcohol and therefore prevent a lot of the issues that are created through its use.

New Dimensions Can Help!

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.

Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit to learn more.