Alcoholism can affect so many aspects of your life just like any other substance that is abused. Alcoholism can put your employment, personal relationships, financial situations and more at risk. It turns your whole world upside down and the worst of it; someone can get hurt or even killed. If you are lucky enough not to put someone in danger if you get behind the wheel; you definitely put yourself in danger every time you consume more than one or two drinks a day and for alcoholics, that means we put ourselves in danger every time we pick up a drink.
The heavy drinking that alcoholics engage in can result in significant bodily impairment, damage, or potentially death. Heavy drinking is defined by drinking eight drinks or more per week for women, and 15 or more for men.
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NCBI), Alcoholic liver disease (ALD)—and particularly cirrhosis—has long been one of the most prevalent and devastating conditions caused by alcohol consumption and is one of the leading causes of alcohol-related death. Liver cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States. There are many different types and stages of liver disease and what kind and what stage you are at can determine whether or not it is reversible.
What is the Function of Your Liver?
Your liver is your body’s largest solid organ. This organ is vital to the body’s metabolic functions and the immune system. You cannot survive without a working liver. Compared to the rest of the body, the liver has a significant amount of blood flowing through it. So whatever you put into your bloodstream is most likely going through your liver.
What Happens to an Alcoholic’s Liver?
The liver’s major functions are in the metabolic processes of the body. These include:
- Breaking down or converting substances
- Extracting energy from food
- Making toxins less harmful to the body and removing them from the bloodstream
When an alcoholic continues to drink over the years, the body starts to show symptoms of liver damage. Those symptoms are:
- Yellowish skin and eyes (jaundice)
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Swelling in legs and ankles
- Dark urine
- Nausea or vomiting
- Itchy skin
- Discolored stool
- A tendency to bruise easily
- Chronic fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Pale, bloody, or tar-colored stool
Liver disease is a common, but preventable, disease. Some types of liver damage are reversible if you stop drinking immediately and take other steps in gaining your health back. There are 3 common types of liver disease:
- Fatty Liver – where excess fat builds up in the liver – reversible with abstinence
- Alcoholic Hepatitis – in which the liver cells become inflamed – reversible with abstinence
- Cirrhosis – in which normal liver tissue is replaced by non-living scar tissue and cirrhosis is most commonly caused by severe and chronic alcoholism. Abstinence from drinking alcohol is helpful, but there are usually other complications that come along with it that make it more fatal. This is the stage where the loss of function happens. Cirrhosis can lead to liver cancer and end-stage liver disease.
If you have symptoms of liver damage due to drinking, you should act quickly in reversing it. Some things that can get you on the right track are:
- Joining a support group such as Alcoholics Anonymous – here you can share with others that will have gone through the same issues as you.
- Lifestyle changes such as eating better, exercising, quitting smoking and even taking vitamins can speed up the healing process of the liver.
If you or a loved one are having trouble getting sober and are worried about liver damage, we at Allure Detox can help. Our alcohol detoxification protocol will help minimize withdrawal symptoms to a manageable level as you start the journey to sobriety.