Alcohol use disorders, including chronic drinking, binge drinking and alcohol dependence, negatively impact the drinker physically, emotionally and mentally. No part of a drinker’s life is unharmed by alcohol addiction, and even moderate drinking can add up to increased risk of a number of issues, including liver damage and cirrhosis. Watching your loved one harm their physical health with drinking can be especially painful. However, the symptoms of both chronic and acute disorders – especially alcoholic liver disease – can be powerful arguments for the need for immediate treatment.
If your loved one is struggling with health problems due to chronic drinking, the sooner you can help them stop drinking through a comprehensive Dual Diagnosis treatment program, the better.
Physical Effects of Alcohol Use Disorders
Though anything more than the occasional drink can add up to a slew of health problems, alcoholism takes a serious toll on every system in the body, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Alcoholism can cause:
- Altered brain function that changes mood and behavior
- Cardiac problems like stroke, high blood pressure, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmia and heart disease
- An inflamed pancreas and pancreatitis
- Increased risk of liver, mouth, throat, esophageal and breast cancers
- A weakened immune system
Alcohol most heavily and frequently affects the liver as well. A number of ailments can occur including hepatitis, fatty liver and alcoholic liver disease, and over time, these issues can lead to serious issues for the drinker.
Alcohol is a toxin and even moderate drinking can cause inflammation of the liver. Some of the most common liver disorders among alcoholics include:
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Alcohol-related fatty liver disease
The liver is crucial to the body’s ability to function, and as it deteriorates, the drinker’s quality of life deteriorates as well. When a patient continues to drink despite chronic liver problems, it could inevitably lead to an early death.
Between 10 and 20 percent of heavy drinkers in the United States develop cirrhosis of the liver, a form of alcohol-induced liver disease, according to the NIAAA. They also report that cirrhosis affects no small number of Americans; it is the seventh leading cause of death among adults. As many as 24,000 Americans lose their lives to cirrhosis caused by alcohol abuse each year. Defined by extensive scarring of the liver, cirrhosis disrupts the liver’s ability to manage the body’s metabolic function and is a deadly disorder. Unfortunately, treatment options are limited. One of the first steps toward recovery from the disease is cessation of drinking.
Alcohol Treatment and Liver Damage
Often, serious physical ailments like liver disease and cirrhosis are the reasons that someone finally seeks treatment for alcoholism. If the person stops drinking in time, in many cases, they can reverse the effects of alcohol-related fatty liver, hepatitis and cirrhosis conditions. In the face of alcoholism, alcohol addiction treatment is always a life-saving measure but when liver damage and cirrhosis are an issue, it can add years to the person’s life.
If your loved one has been diagnosed with liver disease caused by chronic drinking or alcohol dependence, it doesn’t have to be a death sentence.
Treatment for both the liver condition and the substance use disorder can be a powerful tool, providing your family member with everything he needs to recover. Find out more about how a Dual Diagnosis treatment program can help your addicted loved one fight alcoholism and all related issues when you contact our admissions coordinators at the phone number listed above.
Further Reading About Liver Damage Caused by Drinking
David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.