Can I Reverse Liver Damage if I Go to Rehab and Stop Drinking?
Alcohol abuse has many detrimental impacts on your health. One of the most common consequences of long-term alcohol abuse is liver disease. Alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) refers to liver damage sustained from long-term excessive alcohol consumption.
While the late stages of ARLD are permanent and cannot be reversed, people who seek treatment can get a treatment plan to help manage their symptoms and prolong life. However, the early stages of ARLD can be reversed if you stop drinking.
Even in the face of liver disease, people who struggle with alcoholism may be unable to stop drinking on their own. Between the symptoms of withdrawal and intense cravings for a drink, quitting alcohol once you’re addicted to it is extremely difficult.
If you or a loved one suspects that you have liver damage or other health issues as a result of your alcohol abuse, going to rehab and quitting drinking for good can help your liver recover.
Alcohol Abuse and Liver Health
The liver is one of the most complex organs in the body and it is responsible for filtering toxins such as alcohol from the blood. In addition to filtering toxins, the liver also aids in food digestion, regulates blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and plays a role in fighting disease.
Alcohol is metabolized in the liver. When you drink alcohol, your liver will prioritize filtering alcohol above other toxins in your body. When you drink excessively, you put your liver under immense stress, as it must work around-the-clock to try to keep up with your drinking habits.
The liver is extremely resilient and it can usually regenerate itself by slowly developing new cells. However, prolonged alcohol abuse can reduce your liver’s ability to regenerate and develop the new cells it needs to function. In the long term, this results in serious and oftentimes permanent liver damage.
Understanding the Stages of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease (ARLD)
There are three general stages of alcohol-related liver disease. Unfortunately, there aren’t always symptoms with the first two stages, so many people reach the final stage without even realizing it.
Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Alcoholic fatty liver disease is the result of a build-up of fats in the liver. Fats build up in the liver when the liver is prioritizing the metabolism of alcohol. Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, even for a few days or weeks, can lead to excess fat buildup in the liver.
This stage of ARLD rarely has any symptoms, but it is reversible. People with alcoholic fatty liver disease can stop drinking and their condition may subside in as little as two weeks.
Alcoholic hepatitis develops after frequent and heavy drinking. It is a potentially serious condition that may have some symptoms, including:
- Abdominal swelling
- Bleeding in the throat
- Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes
Early alcoholic hepatitis is reversible if you go to rehab and stop drinking, however, severe alcoholic hepatitis can be a serious, permanent, and life-threatening illness.
Cirrhosis is the final and most serious stage of ARLD. The liver becomes permanently scarred and its ability to function declines. People who stop drinking with cirrhosis may be able to prevent further damage and increase their life expectancy, but those who continue to drink are at significant risk of dying within the next five years.
Symptoms of cirrhosis include:
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Increased bleeding and bruising
- Swelling in the abdomen, feet, legs, and ankles
- Weakness and fatigue
- Decreased appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
Can You Reverse Alcoholic Liver Damage?
Unless you’ve developed severe alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis, alcoholic liver damage can be reversed if you stop drinking. However, you must stop drinking and stay stopped. Stopping drinking for a few weeks and then starting again will cause further damage to your liver.
Unfortunately, it can be hard to recognize when liver damage has been sustained until it is too late. As a result, you should do your best to avoid damaging your liver in the first place by seeking alcoholism treatment at the first signs of a drinking problem.
Alcohol rehab centers can help you detox safely and learn the tools you need to stay sober. They can also refer you to a doctor or specialist if liver damage is suspected. If your doctor diagnoses you with permanent liver disease, he or she will help you set up a treatment plan to minimize your symptoms, prevent further harm, and lengthen your lifespan.
Avoiding alcohol for at least 30-90 days can significantly improve your liver function.
In severe cases where the damage is permanent and life-threatening, a liver transplant may be required.
7 Tips for Repairing Liver Damage From Alcohol
There are many steps you can take to help reverse alcoholic liver disease, including:
- Get help for alcoholism from an alcohol rehab center near you.
- Follow your treatment and aftercare plan so you don’t resume drinking.
- Consuming healthy and nutritious foods because processed foods make the liver work harder.
- Get plenty of restful, restorative sleep.
- Workout regularly. Exercise can help flush your system of toxins, improve your immune system, and reduce the risk of liver disease complications such as cancer.
- Quit smoking cigarettes or taking other drugs.
- Talk to your doctor about the medications you are taking–even over-the-counter ones. Some over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen, can harm your liver.
Find Help for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Today
Over time, the effects of alcoholic fatty liver disease and alcoholic hepatitis can heal, but only if you stop drinking. For people struggling with alcoholism, stopping drinking is more difficult than it sounds, which is why we’re here to help.
At Woburn Wellness, our alcohol rehab program incorporates 12-step immersion, the careful development of a personalized treatment plan, and an effective combination of therapeutic and holistic treatment methodologies. The levels of clinical care we provide include a Day Treatment Program, Intensive Outpatient Treatment, and Outpatient Treatment. We will customize a long-term program of alcohol addiction treatment based on your individual needs, requirements, and treatment goals.
To learn more about our alcohol rehab center or to find help for yourself or a loved one, please contact us today.