Years of excessive drinking can wreak havoc on the human body. There are many short-term and long-term effects of drinking alcohol, and perhaps one of the most deadly (and most preventable) can be issues related to the liver. Keep reading to find out more about the effects of alcohol on the liver, how it happens, and when it is time to get help.
Effects of Alcohol on the Liver: How It Works
In order to understand the effects of alcohol on the liver, it is important to know how the liver works. The liver breaks down and filters out toxins in the blood while creating helpful proteins, enzymes, and hormones. It also helps process vitamins and medicine to help them get to work in our bloodstream. Essentially, it cleans our blood.
Since alcohol is a toxin to our bloodstream, the liver works to clean it out. It takes about an hour for the liver to process an alcoholic beverage. However, when binge drinking occurs frequently, the liver can’t keep up with all of the alcohol being filtered through it. This causes the destruction of the liver and leads to the various stages of liver disease.
According to the American Liver Foundation, The damage from alcohol-related cirrhosis is not reversible and can cause fatal liver failure. Alcohol remains the second most common cause of liver cirrhosis after hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in the United States, contributing to approximately 20% to 25% cases of liver cirrhosis.
Alcohol Liver Disease
The liver is critical for many functions of the body, and when it becomes injured with disease, it can be fatal. Virtually all heavy drinkers develop fatty liver, and up to 35 percent develop alcoholic hepatitis and between 10 and 20 percent develop cirrhosis.
Symptoms of liver disease include:
- Dark urine
- Discolored stool
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- Itchy skin
- Easily bruised
- Weakness and fatigue
Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
As it sounds, Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease occurs when fat cells build up in the liver. Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is the earliest stage of alcohol-related liver disease. Luckily, this stage can usually be reversed with abstinence through alcohol addiction treatment, regular exercise, and a healthy diet.
While there is another form of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease that can occur naturally, Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease only happens in people who are heavy drinkers. Additional risk factors include those who have been drinking for a long period of time, drinkers who are women, have obesity, or have certain genetic mutations.
- Up to 35 percent of people who suffer from alcohol-related liver disease progress to alcoholic hepatitis.
- Alcoholic hepatitis is a diseased, inflammatory condition of the liver caused by heavy alcohol consumption over an extended period of time.
- When alcohol gets processed in the liver, it produces highly toxic chemicals.
- These chemicals injure liver cells and lead to inflammation, also known as alcoholic hepatitis.
Cirrhosis occurs when the liver is replaced by non-living scar tissue due to the damage from processing so much alcohol. Between 10 and 20 percent of people who begin developing alcohol-related liver disease will develop cirrhosis of the liver. Once the liver has reached this stage, the damage is not reversible and can cause liver cancer and fatal liver failure.
When to Get Help
Liver damage caused by alcohol is completely avoidable, and in some cases reversible, by not drinking alcohol and abstaining. This sounds a lot easier than it actually is, as alcohol addiction can be difficult to battle. If you are having trouble cutting down on alcohol, it is important to seek help right away before it becomes more damaging to your body.
About Seasons in Malibu
The alcohol rehab programs at Seasons In Malibu starts with detox and carries through to aftercare. The alcohol abuse treatment centers on our philosophy of systemic treatment. As much progress has been made in alcohol recovery programs, we believe that most addiction treatment is still inadequate.
The industry average success rates are still very low so we aim to offer something better. We pride ourselves on having what may be the highest success rate in the industry, at 85%, making Seasons one of the best alcohol treatment centers. Our alcohol rehab programs offer a unique, systemic approach to therapy and our treatment guarantee, we believe what we offer here is the absolute cutting edge of luxury alcohol rehab and treatment.
It is a priority for us that our life-changing drug and alcohol treatment be available to the people who need it. We are fully familiar with how much strength and courage it takes to pick up the phone and ask for help. Our counselors are invested in your well-being and are ready around-the-clock to guide you or a trusted friend or family member through the initial steps of overcoming drug or alcohol addiction.
With our superior team of clinicians, we are able to succinctly pinpoint those areas of focus that will give the client the most advanced opportunity for success. Our approach towards healing is collaborative, comprehensive, and committed.