It can not only cause relationship issues or lead to run-ins with the law, but these beverages can also cause serious health problems that may even be fatal.
The liver is responsible for filtering blood, protein creation, metabolizing drugs, and detoxing chemicals like alcohol.1 If this organ becomes damaged, these functions will not be efficient, which could mean serious trouble for the individual.
Excessive alcohol consumption over an extended amount of time may lead to alcoholic liver disease. In fact, almost 100% of alcoholics who consume at least 80 grams of alcohol (about 6 or 7 drinks) a day for over 10 years will develop liver disease.2 This disease is progressive as well, and the signs of alcoholic liver disease will become more prevalent and severe without treatment. The alcoholic liver disease stages include fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and liver cirrhosis.
The first stage of alcoholic liver disease is fatty liver or steatosis that is characterized by excessive fat inside liver cells and negatively impacts the efficiency of the liver. About 20% of alcoholics and heavy drinkers will reach this stage of liver disease from alcohol.3 Fortunately, this damage can be reversed if the person stops drinking.
Often, the only sign of fatty liver disease is an enlarged liver, so many people may not realize that they have a problem until the disease becomes more severe or they reach the next stage of alcoholic liver disease.
The second stage of liver disease from alcohol is alcoholic hepatitis. Alcoholic hepatitis leads to inflammation of the liver, degeneration of liver cells, and fibrosis or the development of excessive amounts of scar tissue in the liver. It is important that if you are diagnosed with alcoholic hepatitis you stop drinking immediately as about half of severe cases are fatal and 40% of cases will progress into the next alcoholic liver disease stage.3 In most cases, some of the damage can be reversed if drinking is stopped. If you are struggling to quit on your own, a partial hospitalization program or other professional treatment program may be able to help and prevent you from reaching the next and more fatal stage of alcoholic liver disease.
Symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis include:
The last of the alcoholic liver disease stages is cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the build up of permanent scar tissue in the liver that interrupts regular liver function and can lead to liver failure. This stage of alcoholic liver damage is serious and can be fatal. While it is no longer reversible, drinking needs to stop immediately to keep the condition from getting any worse and to avoid fatalities. In the later stages of cirrhosis, the survival rate is about 60% for those who quit drinking but only 35% for those who don’t.3
Symptoms of cirrhosis include:
If you start to experience any symptoms of liver disease or are found to meet any of the stages of alcoholic liver disease, the first thing you need to do is to stop drinking. Every time you have another drink, you could be putting your life at risk. Our alcohol rehab in the Boston area can help you with this process. Other treatment for alcoholic liver disease may include nutritional therapy, medication, and even a liver transplant depending on the severity and the liver disease stage. It is important to talk to a doctor immediately in order to develop a treatment plan.
Whether it is an addiction to drugs or alcohol, your health may be at stake.