Addiction to Alcohol/Edema?


I know you are not a doctor, but maybe you have seen this before. My husband, 60, who was a light beer drinker, began drinking rum  heavily last summer, after he lost his twin brother. I thought he was becoming alcoholic, as he had issues as a young man. By Xmas, he had developed a big hard belly. He had to get bigger pants.
He only gained five pounds, so is this belly mostly fluid or edema?
After Xmas back to normal, is attending therapy, and has a couple of beers Saturday, although he has binged on rum twice, but not every weekend like before. However, in spite of much less consumption,the big belly remains. Is this common? Will it go down eventually? Other than that, he has no health issues, and eats healthy and exercises.

Hi Susan,

I've gotten this question from others, so know it's a fairly common phenomenon.  I would say he will not know clearly how much his efforts to reduce the belly with healthy eating and exercise if he doesn't abstain completely.  The less frequent use may still be a factor.

I'm usually concerned about those with history of addictive behaviors who maintain substance use.  It's good your husband is in therapy.  Hopefully he's being truthful with the counselor about his drinking behavior.  The occasional bingeing is not a safe consumption of alcohol, and he needs to find out why he does it.  Has he worked through his grief?  

It would also be prudent for him to have a complete physical examination to rule out underlying health issues.  Age brings a drop in resilience with respect to buffering alcohol effects.  Many of my patients over the age of 50 experience, or will soon experience serious health issues stemming from drinking.  He has to be aware of this.

Thanks for your question,

Addiction to Alcohol

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Peter L.


Any questions regarding addictive behavior, withdrawal symptoms, selecting treatment options, relapse prevention, defining abuse vs. dependence, self-help groups, denial and resistance, building motivation, physical health effects of alcohol, substitution of other addictive substances; holistic approaches to addiction recovery.


I have been a counselor, educator, and supervisor in the addiction field for 28 years. I hold alcohol and drug counselor certification and licenses in three states. I have experience with adolescents and adults, ranging from those who are experimental/casual users of alcohol to those with very progressed addictive disorders.

Masters Degree - Behavioral Science CADAC, LADC, LADC1

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