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Why Can’t I Drink Alcohol Anymore Without Feeling Sick?

Clinically Reviewed by: Dr. Robin Campbell, LMFT, PHD

If you’ve ever experienced that unsettling feeling of sickness when trying to enjoy alcohol, rest assured that you’re not alone in this struggle. It’s a confusing shift in your body’s response to something that used to bring pleasure. In this article, we’ll explore the underlying reasons behind this unwelcome change in your relationship with alcohol. We’ll delve into the intricate interplay of physiological and psychological factors that contribute to this issue. Most importantly, we’ll guide you on the path to recovery and well-being, emphasizing the importance of seeking professional help from a renowned dual diagnosis treatment center like New Hope Healthcare Institute in Knoxville, TN. If you’re ready to take that vital first step towards a healthier future, call us today at 866-806-1027.

Understanding the Change in Your Alcohol Tolerance

Body's Response to Alcohol

As time passes, your body’s response to alcohol can undergo significant transformations, turning what was once an enjoyable experience into an ordeal fraught with unpleasant symptoms. These changes are influenced by a multitude of factors, and a deeper understanding of them can shed light on why you may be feeling sick when you consume alcohol. Let’s explore these factors in greater depth:

1. Metabolism and Aging

One pivotal factor contributing to your altered response to alcohol is the natural aging process. As you grow older, your metabolism naturally slows down. This slowdown means that your body processes alcohol differently, resulting in prolonged exposure to its effects. The implications of this are significant:

  • Metabolic Rate Decline: Research has shown that the metabolic rate in adults decreases by about 1-2% per decade after the age of 30. This means that alcohol remains in your system for longer periods, increasing the likelihood of adverse reactions.
  • Increased Blood Alcohol Levels: With a slower metabolism, alcohol remains in your bloodstream for more extended periods, leading to higher blood alcohol levels even after consuming the same amount as in the past.

2. Liver Function and Long-Term Alcohol Consumption

Another critical factor influencing your response to alcohol is the state of your liver. Long-term alcohol consumption can inflict substantial damage on this vital organ, compromising its ability to efficiently break down alcohol. Here’s a deeper look at this issue:

  • Liver Damage: The liver is responsible for metabolizing alcohol. Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to liver diseases such as cirrhosis, fatty liver, and alcoholic hepatitis. In the later stages of liver disease, the liver becomes less effective at processing alcohol, leading to prolonged exposure to its toxic effects.
  • Enzyme Production: Alcohol dehydrogenase and other enzymes in the liver are crucial for breaking down alcohol. Prolonged alcohol abuse can diminish the production and efficiency of these enzymes, further contributing to difficulties in processing alcohol.

3. Gastrointestinal Irritation

Alcohol’s impact extends beyond the liver and metabolism. It can also irritate the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in conditions that intensify feelings of sickness. Here’s a closer look at how alcohol affects your digestive system:

  • Gastritis: Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to gastritis, which is the inflammation of the stomach lining. Gastritis can cause abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, amplifying the discomfort experienced when drinking alcohol.
  • Acid Reflux: Alcohol can relax the lower esophageal sphincter, allowing stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. This can lead to acid reflux, characterized by heartburn and a burning sensation in the chest, further compounding the unpleasant sensations associated with drinking.

The Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Understanding the effects of long-term alcohol abuse is crucial. It can lead to various physical, mental, and social consequences, including:

  • Physical Health Issues: Chronic alcohol abuse can damage the liver, heart, and pancreas, leading to conditions such as cirrhosis, heart disease, and pancreatitis.
  • Mental Health Impact: Alcohol abuse is closely linked to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. It can exacerbate existing mental health conditions or trigger new ones.
  • Social and Relationship Problems: Alcohol abuse can strain relationships, lead to job loss, and result in legal issues, negatively impacting your overall quality of life.

The Intersection of Mental Health and Substance Use

It’s essential to recognize that feeling sick when you drink alcohol can be a symptom of a more profound issue. This is where dual diagnosis treatment centers like New Hope Healthcare Institute come into play.

The Importance of Seeking Help

If you’ve reached a point where alcohol consistently makes you feel unwell, it’s crucial to acknowledge that this could be a sign of an underlying mental health or substance use disorder. Ignoring these symptoms can lead to further physical and psychological harm.

Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Teens and Adults

New Hope Healthcare Institute specializes in dual diagnosis treatment for both teens and adults. We understand the complex relationship between mental health and substance use disorders. Our approach includes:

  • Comprehensive Assessment: We conduct a thorough assessment to identify any co-occurring mental health conditions alongside your substance use disorder.
  • Customized Treatment Plans: Based on the assessment, we create tailored treatment plans to address your specific needs. This includes addressing the root causes of your discomfort when consuming alcohol.
  • Therapeutic Support: Our team provides a range of therapeutic modalities, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), individual and group counseling, and holistic therapies, to promote healing and recovery.
  • Holistic Care: At New Hope Healthcare Institute, we emphasize holistic care, considering both your mental health and addiction issues as interconnected components of your well-being.

Call New Hope Healthcare Institute

If you find yourself caught in the cycle of feeling sick when you consume alcohol, it’s time to take the first step toward a healthier, happier life. Contact New Hope Healthcare Institute today at 866-806-1027 to connect with our compassionate and experienced team. We are here to provide you with the support, guidance, and evidence-based treatments you need to address the underlying causes of your discomfort, overcome alcohol abuse, and start your journey to recovery. Check out our blog where we post weekly on Medium.


Feeling sick when drinking can result from various factors, including changes in metabolism, liver function, and digestive issues. Seeking professional help from New Hope Healthcare Institute can provide you with the answers and solutions you need.

Absolutely. We specialize in dual diagnosis treatment, addressing both substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health conditions to ensure comprehensive care.

Our commitment to providing personalized treatment plans, a wide range of therapeutic support, and our holistic approach to care make us a leader in the field of dual diagnosis treatment.

Yes, our services are available for both teens and adults, recognizing that these age groups may have unique needs and challenges.

To begin your journey towards recovery and a healthier future, contact us today at 866-806-1027. Our team is ready to assist you in taking the first step towards a better life.

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