How Alcohol Abuse Affects the Liver
When ingesting food or drink, its critical components are absorbed into the blood through the stomach and intestines. All of this blood passes through the liver, a vital organ, which processes it, breaks it down, balances it, creates nutrients, and metabolizes drugs into forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body. The liver can even remove toxins in specific amounts, making the blood safe for the rest of the body.
Drinking alcohol is one of the leading causes of liver damage. Every time alcohol makes its way into the blood that the liver processes, it kills off healthy liver cells. The liver has regenerative properties that develop new replacement cells, but long-term alcohol abuse can diminish this ability, resulting in severe liver damage and multiple life-threatening alcoholic liver diseases. Alcohol-related liver disease can significantly reduce life expectancy without proper addiction treatment help.
Early Warning Signs Alcohol Is Damaging Your Liver
In the initial stages of alcohol-related liver disease, the symptoms are mild and difficult to detect externally without targeted testing. One of the earliest indicators is swelling of the liver, which can be seen on an x-ray or possibly felt as abdominal pain on the upper right side. Other early stages include fatigue, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, and nausea or vomiting.
The issue with these symptoms is that they are very similar to those felt by a heavy drinker during excessive alcohol consumption, which causes damage to the liver in the first place. Once these early signs persist, an individual will go through three stages of alcohol-related liver disease unless they get medical intervention and seek treatment.
Besides alcohol, read about other common household drugs here:
Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
After excessive alcohol consumption, such as binge drinking, an abnormal buildup of fats accumulate in the cells of the liver, which enlarge the liver. This swelling indicates that the later stages of alcohol-related liver disease are imminent, but this condition is also completely reversible. Once the alcoholic fatty liver disease develops, drinking at a later date increases the susceptibility of getting the fatty liver disease again and progressing to the next stage of alcohol-related liver disease.
If drinking persists with a fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis may appear as the function of the liver continues to decline. The damage done at this level is caused by the death of liver cells and the buildup of scar tissue. This stage is considered an acute inflammation of the liver, and any scars formed during this time are permanent damage to your liver, even if you discontinue drinking for a significant length of time. Severe alcoholic hepatitis eventually progresses until it becomes cirrhosis unless drinking ceases.
The third and final stage is fatal in every case. The damage caused by liver cirrhosis cannot be reversed. Eventually, the replacement of healthy liver tissue with scar tissue will diminish the function until liver failure is reached. It does take heavy alcohol intake over an extensive period to develop the liver disease at this stage, but once you arrive at cirrhosis, medication and treatment can only slow down the progression of this ailment, not reverse the damage or cure the condition.
Alcohol Rehab at WhiteSands
Suppose you are having concerns about your own or a loved one’s level of alcohol intake. In that case, the recommendation is that treatment is sought at a residential treatment center where detox services are offered to help your body transition from relying on the chemicals that alcohol use produces in the brain.
At WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab, we specialize in providing all levels of care, including medically assisted detox. A detox program generally lasts 5-10 days and begins at the point of admission, where our clients can expect the highest level of professionalism and compassion from our staff.
Once you complete a medical detox program, we also offer extensive inpatient and outpatient options to suit your lifestyle as you progress through addiction recovery from alcohol, learning the coping skills and structure you can call on to maintain sobriety. We can also help you find a support system to keep you accountable by providing up-to-date meetings and locations for Alcoholics Anonymous.
We follow the overarching philosophy that it was time to raise industry standards concerning the quality of treatment, comfort of patients, and increased rates of long-term sobriety. We have created a treatment program that has stood the test of time well above its competitors and treated patients as individuals while providing the many comforts of their homes.
Our offices are available 24/7 for you to call and have any of your questions answered or begin the enrollment process. Let us help you gain control of your life as soon as possible.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.