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Man experiencing alcoholic neuropathy

Alcohol and Neuropathy: Understanding the Risks

Neuropathy is a condition characterized by nerve damage, and it can lead to a variety of uncomfortable and sometimes debilitating symptoms. These may include tingling, numbness, pain and weakness, most commonly in the hands and feet. While there are many potential causes of neuropathy, one significant and often overlooked contributor is alcohol consumption. Understanding the relationship between alcohol and neuropathy is crucial for both prevention and management of this condition.

What is Alcoholic Neuropathy?

Alcoholic neuropathy is a type of peripheral neuropathy specifically caused by chronic alcohol abuse. This condition results from the toxic effects of alcohol on nerve tissue, as well as nutritional deficiencies often associated with heavy drinking. The damage to the peripheral nerves disrupts the normal transmission of signals between the body and the brain, leading to a range of symptoms.

How Does Alcohol Cause Neuropathy?

Because alcohol is a legal and socially acceptable substance, it can be hard to believe that it can cause something as painful and debilitating as neuropathy. But it’s important to remember that alcohol is a poison that is toxic to the body. In fact, it’s directly toxic to nerve cells, causing them to deteriorate, which can lead to neuropathy. Additionally, alcohol interferes with the body’s ability to repair damaged nerves, exacerbating the condition. Typically, neuropathy caused by alcohol use forms after years of heavy drinking, not from having a few drinks on occasion. 

Nutritional deficiencies from alcohol also contribute to neuropathy. Heavy drinking often leads to poor dietary habits, resulting in deficiencies of vital nutrients, particularly B vitamins like thiamine (B1), B6 and B12. These vitamins are essential for nerve health. Alcohol can also impair the absorption of nutrients from food, even if the diet is adequate, contributing to deficiencies that affect nerve function. 

Lastly, alcohol can cause neuropathy through its metabolic effects. It does this by altering the body’s metabolism and interfering with the normal function of nerves and muscles. Chronic alcohol use can also lead to dehydration, which affects overall cellular function, including nerve cells.

Symptoms of Alcoholic Neuropathy

Symptoms of alcoholic neuropathy can vary in severity and may include:

  • Tingling and numbness: Often starting in the extremities (hands and feet).
  • Pain and burning sensations: A persistent, uncomfortable burning sensation in the affected areas.
  • Muscle weakness and atrophy: Reduced strength and muscle mass in the limbs.
  • Balance and coordination problems: Difficulty walking or maintaining balance.
  • Autonomic dysfunction: Issues like urinary incontinence, constipation, or sexual dysfunction due to nerve damage affecting the autonomic nervous system.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If you suspect that you or someone you know might have alcoholic neuropathy, it’s important to seek medical advice. Diagnosis typically involves a thorough medical history, neurological examination and tests such as nerve conduction studies or blood tests to check for nutritional deficiencies.

Treatment for alcoholic neuropathy focuses on managing symptoms and addressing the underlying cause—alcohol consumption. Key components of treatment include:

Abstinence from Alcohol

The most critical step is to stop drinking alcohol to prevent further nerve damage. The more you keep drinking, the more the nerves will become damaged. Recovery can be a long road, but help is out there. Consider joining support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or seeking counseling to help maintain sobriety. Not only will you be working toward recovery and protecting your nerves but also adding valuable years onto your life! 

Nutritional Support

Ensuring a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients can help improve overall health and support nerve repair, especially if you know that you are deficient in certain vitamins. There are many supplements for nerve health on the market, and not all are created equal. Talk to your doctor about the best supplements to take to address deficiencies and aid in nerve function. Neuro Health’s Neuropathy Support Formula contains B vitamins, alpha lipoic acid and more to support health nerve function. 


Medications such as pain relievers, antidepressants or anticonvulsants may be prescribed to manage neuropathic pain. Topical treatments can also be beneficial. While capsaicin cream or lidocaine patches are most commonly sold in stores, there are other options out there that may help even further. Our Miracle Nerve Cream contains ingredients like MSM, turmeric and arnica to quickly provide relief and it’s backed by our 100% satisfaction guarantee.  

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy and exercise can help maintain muscle strength and improve coordination. If you work with a physical therapist, you will receive a personalized plan that addresses your unique needs. Using devices like braces or orthotic shoes can also enhance mobility and safety.

Lifestyle Changes

Adopting a healthier lifestyle, including regular exercise, adequate hydration and stress management, can support overall recovery and well-being. If you seek treatment from an alcohol recovery program, building a healthy lifestyle will be a part of the healing journey. 

Preventing Alcoholic Neuropathy 

The best way to prevent alcoholic neuropathy is to limit alcohol consumption to moderate levels or abstain altogether. Following a nutritious diet, staying physically active and regularly monitoring health can also help prevent the condition. While no amount of alcohol is truly safe, alcoholic neuropathy takes time to develop and is caused by excessive drinking, not the occasional drink for celebrations. 


Alcoholic neuropathy is a serious condition that can significantly impact quality of life. Understanding the risks associated with chronic alcohol consumption and taking proactive steps to manage and treat the condition can lead to better health outcomes. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use and experiencing symptoms of neuropathy, seek medical advice and support as soon as possible. Through lifestyle changes, nutritional support and appropriate medical care, it is possible to manage symptoms and improve nerve health.

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