The connection between pancreatitis and alcohol is widely misunderstood. Many people think that drinking alcohol causes chronic pancreatitis… This is WRONG! New studies are debunking old claims that pancreatitis is a disease of alcoholics. Alcohol alone does not directly cause chronic pancreatitis.

The widespread belief that chronic pancreatitis is usually caused by alcohol abuse is harmful.

Because most doctors believe that drinking is the most common cause of chronic pancreatitis:

Patients don’t get the best care

  • Children are accused of drinking
  • Parents of young patients are accused of giving their children alcohol
  • Light drinkers aren’t properly diagnosed after attacks because doctors rule out pancreatitis
  • Patients who drink are blamed for their illness
  • Patients who do not drink are accused of lying

A focus on alcohol slows the process of developing cures and treatments

  • Physician focus is misguided
  • Patients are misdiagnosed

Physicians and researchers have focused on the impact of alcohol in pancreatitis patients for far too long, which has led to worse patient outcomes. This must change.

The True Connection

Alcohol and pancreatitis

  • Alcohol does not directly cause chronic pancreatitis
  • Only very heavy drinking–five drinks per day over a long time–can lead to chronic pancreatitis
    • Less than 5% of people who abuse alcohol will develop chronic pancreatitis
  • Tobacco is a greater risk factor than alcohol

Can I drink with pancreatitis?

NO!

If you have chronic pancreatitis, you should not drink alcoholic beverages under any circumstances. Carrying on drinking will result in extreme pain and continue to damage to the pancreas.

You cannot drink wine, beer, or spirits if you have chronic pancreatitis.

Even one sip can cause extreme pain.

Resources to Stop Drinking

Alcoholism is not a leading cause of chronic pancreatitis. However, for some it is a factor. If you need help quitting drinking after a pancreatitis diagnosis, here are some resources: