Alcohol and the Liver – How Alcohol Damages the Liver

What is the Connection Between Alcohol and Liver Health?

Alcohol is America’s most popular addictive substance. But, alcohol and liver issues are quite common among heavy drinkers.

However, if you drink too much, you not only run the risk of developing an addiction, you also expose your liver to potentially catastrophic damage.

This is true because alcohol has a direct impact on how the liver functions.

Liver damage does not happen to heavy drinkers all at once.

Instead, it develops gradually over time.

If you seek help for your alcohol abuse as soon as possible, you can avoid the worst kinds of damage.

You can also limit the other severe consequences of this common form of addiction.

If you are a drinker, it is essential to understand the connection between alcohol and liver health.

Why? Drinking can have a harmful effect on this vital organ, even if you do not meet the definition of alcoholism.

If you drink heavily as a habit, you increase your chances of developing a severe, or even fatal, liver-related disease.

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Alcohol and the Liver – The Basics

Why does alcohol affect how your liver works? First, alcohol is toxic to your body. If too much of it builds up in your system, you can die from alcohol poisoning. This means that your body must find some way to get rid of the alcoholic toxins. If this elimination process did not occur, you would not be able to drink any amount of an alcoholic substance without running into problems.

How does your body eliminate alcohol from your system? It relies on the liver. When you drink beer, wine, or liquor, your body starts to digest it. The toxic parts of alcohol eventually make it to your liver. There, they undergo a gradual breakdown.

However, your liver’s ability to break down alcohol is limited. If your consumption is higher than this organ can handle, you will overwhelm its capacity. When this happens, the toxins in alcohol will build up in your system — resulting in your liver having to overwork to rid the body of the toxins.

If you keep taxing your liver long enough over a period of time, it will start to lose its normal function. This is true whether or not you have diagnosable alcohol problems. However, the real danger begins when you take part in a long-term pattern of heavy drinking. This kind of ongoing, excessive consumption leaves you vulnerable to the worst possible forms of liver damage.

 

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Alcohol-Related Damage is Progressive

Heavy drinking has a progressive impact on the health of your liver. This means that damage to the organ gets worse over time. Doctors and public health experts have a name for this progressive process known as alcoholic liver disease. There are three stages to this disease, including fatty liver or hepatic steatosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis. Each of these conditions affects you in different ways.

Fatty Liver of Hepatic Steatosis

Fatty liver gets its name because the condition produces an abnormal buildup of fat inside your liver. This buildup makes your liver grow larger than usual. Some people with fatty liver experience no apparent symptoms. However, others experience things such as:

  • Unexplained fatigue
  • Uncomfortable feelings in the upper right abdomen

The majority of heavy drinkers will eventually develop a fatty liver if they do not stop using alcohol. If you are affected by this condition, it may go away if you halt your drinking and lose weight.

Alcoholic Hepatitis

Hepatitis is the name for any significant inflammation within your liver tissue. In people with alcoholic hepatitis, this liver inflammation is widespread. Other symptoms of the condition include:

  • Fatty liver
  • Liver cell death, also known as necrosis

In addition, some affected people have symptoms of cirrhosis. Roughly 10% to 35% of all long-term heavy drinkers will develop alcoholic hepatitis.

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is the most harmful form of alcoholic liver disease. It occurs when continued heavy drinking leads to scarring inside your liver. This scarring permanently reduces the organ’s ability to function. If cirrhosis advances far enough, it can cause your liver to fail altogether. This is a dire health emergency. Additionally, some people with cirrhosis also develop liver cancer. Between one and two out of every 10 heavy drinkers will go on to develop cirrhosis.

 

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Alcohol and Liver Damage – How Much Do You Have to Drink?

You are probably wondering how much alcohol you need to drink to damage your liver. Your liver can eliminate 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol in a standard drink in about an hour. This is the equivalent of:

  • One 12-ounce serving of beer
  • Eight or nine ounces of malt liquor
  • One five-ounce glass of wine
  • A 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor

Problems begin when you make a habit of exceeding this level of consumption by large amounts. Signs of liver disease may start to appear after a decade or more of drinking the following:

  • Two to eight beers a day
  • Three to six servings of wine a day
  • Three to six servings of hard liquor a day

If you consume alcohol in even heavier amounts, you run a higher risk of developing cirrhosis. Cirrhosis risks rise along with your level of consumption and duration of hard-drinking. For example, if you drink for 20 years or more, you have roughly a 50% chance of developing cirrhosis if you drink more than:

  • Roughly 36 beers a day
  • About 18 glasses of wine a day
  • Approximately 18 shots of hard liquor a day

These might seem like incredibly high amounts. But unfortunately, some heavy drinkers consume at least this much alcohol on a regular basis.

 

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Limit the Harm with Alcohol Rehab

Not everyone who drinks heavily is addicted to alcohol. This does not mean that non-addicted people cannot be problem drinkers. In fact, you can receive a diagnosis for alcohol problems even if you are not considered an alcoholic. This happens when your non-addicted alcohol abuse seriously damages your day-to-day life.

If you are caught up in a cycle of alcohol abuse, you have many reasons for getting help. Those reasons include avoidance or preventing the long-term effects of abuse/addiction itself. They also include avoidance of progressive liver damage.

For anyone affected by alcoholism, alcohol rehab typically begins with enrollment in a detox program. Detox helps you stop drinking. It also provides medication and support that allows you to cope with symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Once your time in detox is done, you are ready for the main phase of rehab, which is active treatment. The assistance you receive during active treatment will reinforce your short-term ability to stop drinking. It will also help you learn how to make lasting changes in your life that support long-term sobriety.

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Learn More About Alcohol and Liver Damage

If you have been drinking heavily for a long time, you are at risk of damaging your liver. In its early stages, alcohol-related liver disease can sometimes be reversed. However, over time, you may develop irreversible damage in this vital organ. No one wants to face these kinds of severe, avoidable health complications.

Before alcohol can affect you in such drastic ways, seek help in an alcohol recovery program. An effective program makes it possible for you to abandon heavy drinking and get sober. It also makes it possible for you to make sobriety an ongoing priority of your daily routine.

If you already suffer from liver damage, rehab is still the best way to limit the harm to your body. Along with providing the right kind of medical treatment, your recovery program will help stabilize your health. It will also help and protect you from even greater physical and mental harm.

For more information on alcohol and liver damage, contact Pathfinders today. We are also your source for trusted information on alcohol abuse and addiction. In addition, we provide top-quality services for all kinds of alcohol use problems.

 

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How to Tell Your Family You Need Help with Alcohol

Why Might Alcohol Rehab be Necessary for You?

Alcohol rehab is a common and effective addiction treatment method.

It is necessary because alcohol is one of the most commonly abused substances.

Celebrations, holidays, social gatherings, and stressful situations can lead many individuals to want to enjoy a few drinks.

This normalization makes alcoholism difficult to cope with and admit to.

It may be tempting to ignore it, but that will only work temporarily.

Over time, it will get worse and more noticeable.

Both you and your family will benefit from you attending alcohol rehab if that is what you need to recover.

Trust that they want what is best for you.

And know that at Pathfinders, we want that too.

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How Many People Actually Need Alcohol Rehab?

Nearly 18 million adults in America have an alcohol use disorder.

You are not alone.

If you feel like you are alone, there are several quick fixes to this particular side effect of alcoholism.

Having an open and honest conversation with someone you love and trust will bring a caring companion into the equation.

And contacting our facility to choose an alcohol rehab program complete with therapeutic remedies and support groups will also accomplish this goal.

It will accomplish many other goals too.

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Risk Factors for Alcoholism

Since alcohol is so normalized, it can be difficult to understand why some people become addicted, and others do not.

Genetics is one reason for this discrepancy, and it is one of the most common.

Genetic predisposition accounts for up to 65% of the risk of becoming an alcoholic.

Further, children who grow up with alcoholic parents are up to four times more likely to become alcoholics.

This is a disease that alters your brain chemistry, functioning, thoughts, and behaviors.

If alcoholism runs in your family, your family may already know that you are predisposed.

High-pressure jobs, stressful relationships, peer pressures, and environmental influences are other risk factors for developing alcoholism.

Whatever the reason or reasons may be, our alcohol rehab programs can help.

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Signs You Need Alcohol Rehab

If you are unsure whether or not you should attend alcohol rehab, there are many warning signs to watch for.

One of the most important warning signs is mood changes. Certain underlying mental health disorders are often linked to alcohol abuse.

For example, up to 80% of people who struggle with alcoholism also struggle with mood disturbances.

Depression is very often linked to alcoholism.

Anxiety is also common among alcoholics and alcohol abusers.

Many alcoholics also suffer from increased agitation, blackouts, unexplained accidents or injuries, and appetite loss.

Insomnia and alcohol cravings are common too.

However, of all of the signs that you need alcohol rehab, experiencing withdrawal symptoms after a few hours of not drinking may be the clearest.

If you have experienced troubling withdrawal symptoms or cravings, our medically-assisted detox can help.

Talking to Your Family About Attending Alcohol Rehab

Talking to your family about attending alcohol rehab can be scary.

But, they may already be aware of your alcohol abuse.

Whether or not they already know, admitting that you have a problem is the first step on the road to recovery.

This conversation does not have to be shameful. It may be difficult to admit that you have a problem out loud, but you are admitting this to people who want to support you.

In your family, you can build strong support systems.

You can reveal this portion of yourself to the people who are most likely to support you and cheer you on during the recovery process.

First and foremost, as you approach this conversation, remember to be honest. Clearly express what you have been feeling and experiencing.

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Approaching the Conversation with an Open and Honest Mind

Help them clearly and definitively understand what you are going through.

Tell them that you need help.

If you know what this help will look like, share the details with them. If you are still unsure what to do next, ask them to help you research and get your questions answered.

Our addiction counselor is available 24/7 to help address questions and concerns. A simple phone call may be the easiest way to start.

Next, share your reasons for seeking help. This will help them understand better, and it is a good way to hold yourself accountable for your reasons for getting sober.

Ask clearly for their support, understand and acknowledge their feelings, stay calm, and committed to your new goals, and leave shame out of the equation.

What to Expect From Alcohol Rehab

Once you have told your family that you need help with your alcohol abuse, you have completed a major milestone.

Be proud of this.

You have chosen to face your addiction and change your life.

These two tasks will be the primary focuses of your alcohol rehab program.

Depending on your addiction, needs, and other individual factors, we will work with you to choose the care program that will benefit you the most.

We customize each plan to maximize our efforts and give you the highest level of care possible.

During your alcohol rehab program, you can expect to experience a variety of therapeutic methods.

Various therapies, support groups, and lifestyle training are all common rehab methods.

These help you identify underlying issues, triggers, temptations, and mental health concerns that may be contributing to your addiction.

Once you shed light on these problems, it becomes easier to address and overcome them.

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Alcohol Rehab Options

At Pathfinders, we offer a variety of alcohol rehab options to choose from.

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions in our facilities.

Among others, we offer:

Each of these programs provides unique benefits, high-level care, and a comfortable and safe facility to focus on your recovery.

The one you enter will depend on your individual needs.

For example, someone with a severe addiction, multiple addictions, or overwhelming withdrawal symptoms or cravings might be an ideal candidate for a 24-hour stay in residential rehab.

Someone with a milder addiction and no underlying mental health problems may be better suited to an intensive outpatient program.

This type of program allows you to live at home and spend nine to 20 hours at our facility each week. These hours will be spent in therapy sessions, meetings, and support groups.

Partial hospitalization programs serve as a middle ground between the two and are ideal for patients with a dual diagnosis. While these care programs also allow you to live at home, they require about 20 hours per week at the facility.

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Pathfinders Alcohol Rehab

With incredible, comfortable facilities and experienced, caring teams, you can trust Pathfinders to give you what you need throughout each stage of recovery.

We offer customized care plans, comprehensive methods, and dedicated services.

We will help you and your family understand your addiction and move past it.

You do not have to continue suffering.

We are available to help as soon as you are ready.

Call us today at 855-728-4363 to see the difference that a Pathfinders rehab program can make.