April 16, 2024

Liver Damage from Alcoholism: Signs & Treatments

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ARLD (alcohol-related liver disease) is a condition that stems from excessive and chronic consumption of alcohol, triggering significant liver impairment over time. Read on to learn more about liver damage from alcoholism and find out how to engage with compassionate care. 

How Does Alcohol Damage the Liver?

Alcohol-related liver disease is a condition in which excessive drinking overwhelms the liver’s ability to break down alcohol, causing significant damage.

Anyone who does not conform to moderate drinking guidelines can develop a fatty liver, described clinically as steatosis. More severe forms of liver damage – alcohol-associated hepatitis and cirrhosis – arise from long-term heavy drinking. Researchers do not fully understand why some people who consume alcohol develop liver disease.

There are three stages of alcohol-related liver disease, often with substantial overlap:

  1. Fatty liver: This initial stage occurs when heavy drinking leads to the accumulation of fat in the liver. It might not cause symptoms but serves as a warning sign to the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption. This condition can reverse with abstinence from alcohol over months or years, allowing the liver to recover.
  2. Alcoholic hepatitis: Alcoholic hepatitis can manifest after long-term excessive drinking and might mark the first indication of liver damage for some people. It may also appear after short bouts of heavy drinking. While mild cases can heal with complete cessation of alcohol use, severe alcoholic hepatitis is a grave and potentially fatal condition.
  3. Cirrhosis: In this advanced phase of alcohol-related liver damage, the liver is extensively scarred. Symptoms may still not present, but the damage is largely irreversible. If someone stops drinking alcohol, this can halt further deterioration and significantly improve life expectancy, even at this advanced stage.

Signs of Liver Damage from Alcoholism

ARLD normally remains symptom-free until significant liver damage occurs. At this point, symptoms may manifest as:

  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Swelling in abdomen or ankles
  • Mental confusion
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in stools

Consequently, ARLD is often discovered incidentally during evaluations for unrelated medical issues, or when liver damage has reached an advanced stage.

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Treatments for Liver Damage from Alcoholism

Currently, there is no direct medication for treating ARLD.  The primary recommendation is abstinence from alcohol, ideally lifelong. Ceasing alcohol consumption minimizes further liver damage and optimizes the recovery potential of the liver.

Quitting can be challenging for those who are physically dependent on alcohol, but support, guidance, and medical interventions are accessible through addiction treatment services. Treatment usually involves supervised medical detox followed by ongoing inpatient or outpatient rehab which blends medications, talk therapies, and holistic treatments.

In extreme instances, where the liver fails and does not recover upon stopping alcohol, a liver transplant might be necessary. Eligibility for a liver transplant is contingent on the emergence of cirrhosis complications despite sobriety. Liver transplant programs mandate ongoing abstinence both before and after the transplant for individuals with ARLD.

FAQs

Is liver damage from alcoholism reversible?

Liver damage from alcoholism can be partially reversible, especially in the early stages. Discontinuing consumption can trigger significant liver function improvement, but severe damage like cirrhosis is largely irreversible.

How much alcohol causes live damage?

Liver damage can vary widely from person to person, but heavy and prolonged use of alcohol increases risk. Men who consume more than two drinks daily and women who consume more than one drink daily over many years increase the risk of developing liver damage over time.

How do I repair liver damage from alcohol?

How to repair liver damage from alcohol involves the complete discontinuation of alcohol. Additionally, staying hydrated, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and focusing on sleep hygiene can support liver recovery. In some cases, healthcare providers may recommend medications or supplements.

How do I know when it’s time to get help for alcohol use?

It’s time to seek help for alcohol use if it negatively affects your health, relationships, or responsibilities. Signs include being unable to moderate or discontinue use of alcohol, experiencing withdrawal symptoms in its absence, or prioritizing alcohol over other important aspects of life.

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Get Treatment for Alcoholism at Gratitude Lodge

Alcoholism is a progressive condition that unfolds over several stages. We treat alcohol use disorders regardless of severity at our luxury treatment centers in Long Beach and Newport Beach, CA.

Unsupervised alcohol withdrawal can be life-threatening but engaging with our medical detox program will streamline the process and facilitate the transition to ongoing inpatient treatment.

All Gratitude Lodge treatment programs offer personalized treatment plans that may include:

When you’re ready to recalibrate your life from alcoholism, call 800-994-2184.

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Joe Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore

Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
Jenni Bussi

Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox, facilitating the beginnings of a successful recovery at our rehab addiction centers in Orange County, CA.

Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse. Alcohol detox may not take as long or produce severe withdrawal symptoms, but it is still an essential beginning to your recovery.

Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse.
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Our holistic therapy treatments offer a full-scope approach to recovery, addressing your mind, body, and emotions as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. This therapy is designed to help address underlying issues and integrate alternative therapies to promote overall health and well-being.
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An essential part of your treatment experience, we offer individual (CBT and DBT talk therapy) and group addiction treatment counseling to help you explore and address the emotional component of addiction, providing you with the tools, self-awareness, and empowerment you need to maintain recovery.
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Dual Diagnosis is a highly effective addiction treatment that addresses substance use and mental health disorders simultaneously. Often co-occurring, these disorders are best managed when treated together with specific and targeted therapy.
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Medication-Assisted Treatment provides you with FDA-approved medications to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal while you’re in treatment. This makes the detox process easier and safer, as well as increasing the chances of a successful recovery.
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Sober living provides a supportive and substance-free living environment for your ongoing recovery. We partner with a number of upscale and carefully vetted sober living homes that are available to our clients after inpatient alcohol and drug addiction treatment.
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Once detox and inpatient are complete, we provide an easy transition to outpatient care through our hand-selected partners. This program offers a more flexible approach, allowing you to ease back in to daily life while still receiving frequent & effective care.
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A crucial first step in the recovery process, our detox program provides a comfortable, medically supervised environment that addresses the physical aspect of addiction and eliminates substances from your body.

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