Alcohol abuse is a common and ongoing problem in the United States, with millions of people suffering from alcohol use disorder every year. With alcohol abuse comes various health risks, one of them being liver disease. Alcohol is known for its severe impact on the liver and often has permanent consequences. But can your liver recover from alcohol abuse?
What Is Alcoholic Liver Disease?
Alcohol-related liver disease refers to liver damage caused by excess alcohol consumption. There are several stages and severity and a range of symptoms. However, symptoms of alcohol-related liver damage don’t usually kick in until the damage has been done.
Common symptoms of alcohol liver disease include:
- Sick feeling
- Unexplainable weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- Swelling in the ankles and tummy
- Vomiting blood
- Bloody stool
The liver is needed to filter toxins from the blood, aid digestion, regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels, and help fight off infection and disease. While the liver is a resilient organ, alcohol abuse or drinking too much for long periods can impair the liver from doing what it’s meant to do.
Is Liver Recovery From Alcohol Possible?
There are three stages of alcoholic liver disease: alcoholic fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis, each of which produces a unique set of symptoms. Depending on the stage the person is experiencing, full liver regeneration after alcohol abuse may be possible.
Recovering From Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Alcoholic fatty liver disease is the least severe phase of liver damage, meaning that liver recovery from alcohol abuse is most likely to occur during this stage. Usually, in this first stage, the liver would return to normal if the person stops drinking for two weeks or longer.
Recovering From Alcoholic Hepatitis
The second stage of alcoholic hepatitis is a more serious condition that can be caused by alcohol abuse. When this develops, it may be the first time the person becomes aware of their condition. Less commonly, alcoholic hepatitis occurs if a person has a large amount of alcohol in one sitting (otherwise referred to as binge drinking). Liver recovery after alcohol hepatitis is usually possible if the person stops drinking alcohol permanently.
Recovering From Cirrhosis
Now we get to the third stage of alcoholic liver disease called cirrhosis, during which the liver becomes severely scarred. Even at this stage, there may not be any red flags. Unfortunately, liver recovery from alcoholic cirrhosis is generally not possible. However, the person can prevent further damage and increase their life expectancy if they stop drinking alcohol permanently.
How Long Does Your Liver Take To Recover From Alcohol?
Depending on the stage of liver disease the individual is at, it can take anywhere from several weeks to several months to recover fully from alcohol-related liver damage. Even so, recovery does not mean that the person can continue to drink without causing damage again.
No matter the stage, anyone who experiences liver damage as a result of alcohol use should stop drinking completely. The liver is a vital organ that’s necessary for keeping the body healthy and safe from intoxication and poisoning. If you suspect that your liver may be struggling, visit your doctor right away.
Risk of Abuse and Addiction
Overconsumption of alcohol is not just damaging for the liver, but it can also lead to dependence and addiction. Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to physical dependence, a condition in which the individual won’t feel normal or good when they’re not drinking.
Additionally, when a person with an alcohol dependence attempts to quit drinking, they may experience withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can be severe enough to not only lead to relapse but also become life-threatening.
The good news is that our drug rehab in Pennsylvania can help. Our facility offers alcohol detox and addiction treatment that can make the recovery process safe and successful. Our detox services are held in a medical setting where clients can receive medication-assisted treatment (as needed) to recover safely.
Our alcohol addiction treatment also incorporates psychotherapy to aid patients in their emotional and mental healing from drug use. Through programs like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), we help clients understand the link between their mental health and behavior and the habits they can implement to remain sober after rehab.