Chronic alcohol abuse can often lead to numerous health risks, such as high blood pressure, stroke, or cirrhosis of the liver. Alcoholism also increases the risk of liver failure, jaundice, and liver cancer. Trying to overcome the habits of heavy drinking on your own is never easy. Reaching out to an alcoholism treatment program will allow you to get the help you need to improve your health and reduce the risk of liver failure.
How Alcohol Impacts the Liver
The liver plays a crucial role in filtering harmful substances within the blood and creating enzymes, proteins, and hormones to help fight off infections. The function of the liver is also to convert nutrients and vitamins into substances for the body while also producing enough bile for digestion and storing enough glycogen for gaining energy.
Typically, it takes the body around an hour to process an alcoholic beverage, as this time frame gets longer with each drink. If someone has too much to drink, the remaining unprocessed alcohol will circulate within the bloodstream, which ultimately leads to intoxication. Chronic alcohol abuse can often result in cirrhosis of the liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and even cancer.
The impact of alcohol on a person is dependent on their weight and if they are a male or female. For example, women absorb alcohol more quickly compared to men. Consuming two to three alcoholic drinks each day can result in liver problems. Additionally, binge drinking or consuming four or five alcoholic drinks in a row can cause liver damage.
Choosing to mix alcohol with medications is often very dangerous, and it can result in liver failure. You should always avoid drinking alcohol and taking medication at the same time without consulting with your doctor. Combining certain medications with alcohol can lead to significant damage to your liver function. These medications to avoid include antibiotics, muscle relaxants, blood thinners, sedatives, antidepressants, and pain medication.
Liver Disease Symptoms
Alcoholism increases the chances of liver disease, whether it’s fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, or inflammation that results in liver degeneration. Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can also cause cirrhosis of the liver. Liver cirrhosis symptoms include yellowing of the skin, swollen legs, vomiting blood, and other issues. Failure to abstain from alcohol may even lead to death.
Heavy drinkers have an even greater risk of developing liver disease if they are genetically inclined to have liver issues or develop an infection. Drinking more than two alcoholic drinks each day increases the chance of cirrhosis of the liver and other liver diseases.
Examples of Common Liver Disease Symptoms:
- Abdominal Pain and Swelling
- Chronic Tiredness
- Darker Urine
- Discolored Stool
- Itchy Skin
- Lack of Appetite
- More Bruising
- Swelling in Ankles and Legs
Understanding these liver disease symptoms is important in helping you to limit alcohol consumption. Fortunately, cirrhosis of the liver and other types of liver disease can be reversible if you enter a treatment program for alcoholism. An estimated 15-30% of heavy drinkers receive cirrhosis of the liver diagnosis each year. However, the majority of these people will survive by seeking alcoholism treatment. Despite these odds, it’s estimated that between 40-90% of the annual cirrhosis deaths are alcohol-related.
Here is an overview of the various signs of alcoholism:
Interfering with Responsibilities – Missing days at work due to being hungover or showing up to work drunk is a major sign of alcohol abuse.
Drinking to Cope With Emotions – Alcohol is often used to relax, but it can easily be abused if someone binge drinks each day to cope with emotions.
Legal Issues – Many times people break the law due to drinking too much alcohol. This can occur in various ways, whether it’s getting into fights or drinking and driving.
Relationship Problems – Excess drinking often leads to relational issues with spouses, family members, or friends. These problems usually get worse over time without intervention.
Withdrawal Symptoms – A person can experience withdrawal symptoms if they are used to drinking alcohol each day and attempt to quit. These withdrawal symptoms are wide-ranging, such as anxiety, insomnia, nausea, headaches, depression, fatigue, and shaking.
Alcoholism Treatment Program
Understanding how to treat the cause of alcoholism is an essential part of recovery. An alcoholism treatment program will work on understanding the unique addiction triggers for each individual while also teaching them coping skills to avoid giving in to these triggers. A treatment plan that’s tailored for each person is effective in recovering from alcoholism. Residential treatment is often an excellent choice due to the potential of severe withdrawals, as working with addiction specialists is key to success. Intensive outpatient treatment is another option for those struggling with alcohol. Alcoholism symptoms are often wide-ranging, as knowing how to recognize the signs of alcoholism is key to getting a loved one help and working towards their recovery.