Many people live under the assumption that since alcohol is a legal substance, and it can be purchased at practically every corner store, it must be safe to consume on a consistent basis. After all, why would something that is detrimental to your health be readily available everywhere and advertised on television nearly 24 hours a day?
In reality, alcohol has been shown to be one of the most destructive and addictive substances that someone can put into their body. From physical deterioration to mental health instability, the negative impact that alcohol consumption can have on your entire being is both extensive and significant. One specific consequence is the level of damage alcohol can have on your liver.
What Does Alcohol Do to the Liver?
The liver is your body’s largest solid organ. On average, it can weigh around three pounds in adulthood and is roughly the size of a football. This organ is vital to the body’s metabolic, detoxification and immune system functions.
Without a functioning liver, a person cannot survive. It has many functions that are essential to one’s health, such as breaking down drugs, alcohol and other potentially toxic substances. Alcohol has been shown to cause significant damage to the liver, including:
Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (FLD)
This disorder is caused by excessive alcohol consumption and typically occurs in people who are heavy drinkers and those who have been drinking for a long period of time. FLD happens in over 90 percent of individuals who drink excessive alcohol and is usually a silent disease with few or no symptoms.
People dealing with FLD may feel tired or have some aches in the upper right side of their abdomen. However, this is the earliest stage of alcohol-related liver disease and usually leads to more significant health issues.1
This disorder is associated with long-term heavy alcohol use and is a syndrome of progressive inflammatory liver injury. When alcohol gets processed in the liver, it produces highly toxic chemicals. These chemicals can injure the liver cells, which can lead to inflammation and alcoholic hepatitis.
The results from this inflammation typically devolves into progressive liver cell damage. This disrupts the organ’s ability to perform its proper functions, like metabolizing and clearing toxins from the blood, regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels, fighting infection and disease, and aiding in digestion.1
This disorder is the result of scarring of the liver. The liver is the only internal organ that can regenerate damaged tissue with healthy tissue. However, alcohol disrupts the regeneration process, causing scar tissue to form – meaning the liver simply can’t replace scar tissue with healthy tissue.
Liver cirrhosis is responsible for a large portion of the roughly 40,000 deaths caused by chronic liver disease each year. Scar tissue blocks blood from flowing through the liver, which disrupts the liver’s ability to process nutrients, hormones and other substances. If enough scar tissue is formed on the liver, the organ can fail to perform vital life functions.1
Can Alcohol Effects on the Liver be Reversed?
The body has an amazing ability to heal itself when treated properly. However, it is important to understand that even the regenerative processes of the human body have a limit as to what it can fully repair.
It is true that you can reverse the harm from several types of minor liver disorders if you stop consuming alcohol and make serious lifestyle adjustments. However, there are some cases where the damage inflicted will be permanent.
While the liver is an astonishingly resilient organ and can recover normal functioning even when losing 70 percent of its mass, it is extremely susceptible to cirrhosis. That’s because cirrhosis causes waste, toxin accumulation and even a complete shutdown of the organ by obstructing the flow of blood in the body.
Additionally, cirrhosis symptoms are often only visible once the disorder develops to a serious stage. This means that once you identify the problem actually exists, it is probably too late to do anything to actually repair the damage.2
After Understanding How Alcohol Affects the Liver, It’s Time to Make a Change
The key to repairing the damage associated with liver disease is to catch the problem early and make the necessary lifestyle changes to allow your body the ability to heal itself. You see, the resiliency of the human body is amazing to behold.
While facing your alcohol use disorder can seem like an impossible task, you are actually much stronger than you are giving yourself credit for. That is why approaching the disease of addiction from a holistic perspective can prove to be so effective. At Ranch Creek Recovery, our non 12-step approach to alcohol addiction treatment addresses the physical damage from substance abuse and helps you overcome the triggers that instigated your addiction in the first place.
Life-Changing Alcoholism Treatment Program at Ranch Creek Recovery
It may not seem like it right now, but alcohol has no power over you. Your new life starts the moment you declare you have complete control over your actions, health and future. At Ranch Creek Recovery, we provide holistic detox and alcohol recovery treatment that offers personalized and long-lasting care.