Nocturnal Enuresis - Alcohol Use
Jeannie Cameron Says...
That is a great question, as I know there are many more people out there afraid to ask this question. Years of chronic drinking takes a toll on all the organs of the body, none are left unscathed. The brain disease model tells us that when the frontal cortex is malfunctioning all other brain systems are effected. The brain is the body's communication for all bodily processes. I often tell my clients that the organs are not forgiving as it is the cumulative damage over time that weaken and break down before it's time. Cassie Shortsleeve wrote an interesting article in Men's Health magazine where she touts that 0.5 to 2 percent of adults involuntarily pee in their sleep and these are only the ones reported. This can result not only from chronic alcohol consumption, but a myriad of other medical and mental issues. However, in the purview of alcoholism, losing the ability to control bodily functions is part of later stages of the disease. The body can not thrive on a steady diet of poison without breaking down. Alcohol is a toxin and a solvent. Solvents destroy hard coats of finish melting it upon contact. Unfortunately the early years of abuse destroy the brain subtlety. Small changes that are easily dismissed and denied until one day it can't be.
However, Dr. Ulhaker with the Cleveland Clinic states that a chronic drinker will experience a reduction in "antidiuretic hormones (ADH). This is the hormone responsible for our bodies conserving water. ADH permits individuals to not pee out all of the body's liquid. Unfortunately, in chronic drinkers the alcohol suppresses the release of ADH prohibiting the kidneys from reabsorbing water and actually causes production of larger amounts of urine. Just because one may not have drank for hours before bed, this suppression can carry into the night while sleeping.
Alcohol irritates certain muscles in the bladder, which causes a contraction allowing one to pee and lets us know when we have "to go again". We can all attest to that sense of urgency upon waking, but when dead asleep and intoxicated one will miss the cues to wake and pee.
Alcohol use lowers inhibitions and truncates good decision making. Alcohol use makes people act stupid in all quadrants of their life. It's likely that many people experience these body changes and will not seek medical attention and/or if they were too, the likelihood of them being candid about their drinking is nil. Beer is more likely to cause enuresis than liquor. Beer causes more urine production than caffeine. One beer is 10.5 ounces more liquid than a shot of liquor.
Michael a 48 year old chronic binge drinker got up from his chair to go into the kitchen naked. He proceeded to open the garbage lid and peed in it after a long day of beer drinking. The bathroom was only 4 steps away. Radford a young 25 year old man, was in swanky resort in the Mexican Riviera when he got up from a drunken stupor and mistakenly thought the chair next to him was a toilet and proceeded to pee all over the chair, which was also supporting his clothes he had worn earlier. The embarrassment of his wife caused her to argue with the drunk until he picked up the urine soaked clothes and threw them out the 30th floor window. These are examples of the frontal lobe not able engage or weigh in on good decision making. This is also denial at its finest, who wants to admit they pee in bed.
How difficult it is for parents to hold their frustration, while their toddler learns to go potty. Many families feel like they have received a raise in income after they no longer have to purchase diapers. Not to mention changing bed linens daily. It is in the late stages of alcoholism that families feel forced to make hard decisions in placing loved ones in assisted living quarters, so they can have round-the-clock care,. The brain's inability to communicate normal body functions.
Encourage your boyfriend to go to a urologist for a full work up. Body organs don't regenerate and poisoning the brain will only lead to more mental and bodily dysfunctions as the frontal cortex of the brain is mission control.
Jeannie Cameron LMHC, CAP
Estero / Naples, Florida
Page last updated Oct 12, 2016