August 16, 2023

Alcohol and Hair Loss

woman puts her hand on hair representing Alcohol and hair loss

Does drinking alcohol cause hair loss” is a question that can lead you down a rabbit hole of online searches as you attempt to probe whether alcohol and alopecia (hair loss) are related. This guide aims to clear up any confusion.

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Does Alcohol Cause Hair Loss?

While alcohol and hair loss are not directly related, excessive alcohol consumption can trigger a chain reaction of health complications that may ultimately provoke hair thinning or hair loss.

The body requires a balanced influx of nutrients to operate optimally and maintain the vitality of your hair. Alcohol impedes the breakdown of nutrients, though, and impairs the body’s ability to absorb them effectively. This can lead to a potential deficiency in essential nutrients that are crucial for healthy hair growth.

Vital nutrients that alcohol-induced nutrient deficiencies can affect include:

  • Iron
  • Folic acid
  • Vitamin B12

Beyond this, long-term heavy alcohol consumption is associated with a deficiency of other key vitamins such as A, C, D, E, and K. These nutrients play a pivotal role in nurturing not only your hair but also your nails, sleep patterns, and even cognitive function. If nutrient deficiency results in malnutrition, both your overall health and the condition of your hair can be adversely affected.

So, although drinking alcohol and hair loss are not directly related, alcohol abuse can indirectly spark a series of events that spiral into nutrient deficiencies, resultantly compromising hair health.

The Connection Between Alcoholism and Hair Loss

The connection between hair loss and alcohol use and addiction involves many different factors that may include:

  • High stress levels: Prolonged stress can contribute to hair loss, driving a condition known as telogen effluvium. This phenomenon forces hair into an extended resting phase, stunting its growth and triggering significant shedding. Ordinarily, hair undergoes distinct phases of growth, with each phase vital to its overall health. Having this cycle arrested in a single phase can detrimentally affect the well-being of your hair. Alcoholism and stress and closely interrelated.
  • Protein disruption: Alcohol consumption can disrupt the body’s ability to absorb protein effectively or even result in reduced protein intake. Research indicates that a substantial lack of protein can cause skin, hair, and nail complications. These can range from dry and flaky skin to brittle nails and even extend to thinning hair or hair loss.
  • Impaired nutrient absorption: As previously highlighted, alcohol’s impact on the body’s nutrient breakdown and absorption processes can have far-reaching implications. Given that healthy hair relies on a well-nourished scalp, efficient circulation, and a steady influx of nutrients, those grappling with alcoholism may experience hair thinning.
  • Hormonal and thyroid complications: Alcoholism is associated with hormonal imbalances, especially involving the thyroid. The thyroid plays a key role in regulating various hormones within the body. When this equilibrium is disrupted by conditions like hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, hair loss may ensue.
  • Drinking alcohol and smoking: Smoking is closely linked to skin problems such as wrinkles. The presence of nicotine and various other chemicals in cigarettes can negatively impact both skin and hair. By constricting blood vessels and disrupting blood circulation, smoking restricts the skin’s access to essential oxygen and nutrients. This interference can undermine the skin’s vitality and overall health.
A man looks out at the ocean representing: does drinking alcohol cause hair loss?

Other Physical Effects of Alcoholism

Some other common physical effects associated with alcoholism include:

  • Skin problems
  • Digestive disruptions
  • Liver complaints
  • Heart health
  • Impaired immune system
  • Bone health

Skin problems

Alcohol’s influence on skin health can lead to a range of skin-related issues, from dryness and inflammation to exacerbation of existing skin conditions.

Digestive disruptions

Alcoholism takes a toll on the digestive system, disrupting its normal functioning. The lining of the stomach and intestines can become inflamed, potentially leading to conditions like gastritis or even ulcers. These disruptions not only cause discomfort but can also impact nutrient absorption, further exacerbating the potential for hair thinning.

Liver complaints

The liver bears the brunt of alcohol’s impact, as it works to metabolize the substance. Prolonged alcohol consumption can result in fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, or even cirrhosis. These conditions not only compromise liver function but also contribute to overall systemic inflammation, affecting the body’s ability to function optimally, including sustaining healthy hair growth.

Heart health

Excessive alcohol intake can compromise cardiovascular health. It can raise blood pressure, contribute to irregular heartbeats, and increase the risk of cardiomyopathy and other heart-related conditions. The heart’s role in maintaining circulation is essential for healthy hair growth, underscoring how alcoholism’s impact on heart health can indirectly influence hair health.

Impaired immune system

Alcoholism can weaken the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to infections and illnesses. A compromised immune system can indirectly affect hair health, as the body’s resources are diverted toward combating infections rather than supporting healthy hair growth.

Bone health

Alcohol’s influence on bone health is another concern. Long-term alcohol consumption can impair bone density and increase the risk of fractures. While not directly linked to hair health, maintaining overall skeletal health is integral to supporting the body’s physiological processes, including hair growth.

an image of Gratitude Lodge's hair loss and alcohol treatment center

Get Help for Alcohol Addiction at Gratitude Lodge

If you have developed an alcohol addiction, you can initiate a full and lasting recovery at Gratitude Lodge in Southern California. With our specialized pet-friendly rehab centers in Newport Beach and Long Beach, CA, we offer a holistic approach to comprehensive recovery. Our mission is to guide you through the journey of overcoming addictions and addressing any co-occurring mental health challenges.

Embracing a holistic philosophy, our supervised medical detox program provides a safe and seamless route towards detoxification and sustained healing. As your body rids itself of alcohol and toxins, you can transition into our immersive 30-day inpatient program.

Our treatment strategies are rooted in a range of evidence-based interventions, including:

To move from active alcohol addiction to sustained recovery, call Gratitude Lodge admissions at 888-861-1658, and take the first step towards reclaiming your life from alcohol abuse.

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Russe MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

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