Drug Abuse and Liver Disease | Banyan Heartland

Drug Abuse and Liver Disease

Drug Abuse and Liver Disease

Drug abuse is known for causing a variety of health problems, including liver disease. While many people associate liver disease with alcohol abuse, drug addiction can lead to liver damage as well.

While many people associate liver disease with alcohol abuse, drug addiction can lead to liver damage as well. Drug-induced liver disease refers to disease of the liver that is caused by the abuse of illicit, over the counter, or prescription drugs. Our drug and alcohol treatment center in Gilman knows that drug abuse and liver disease can result in a range of health abnormalities and offers help to those struggling with an addiction.

How Does the Liver Work?

Most drugs are eliminated via the liver and kidneys. Specifically, the liver is an organ on the upper right-hand side of the abdomen that helps flush out toxins from the body and performs a variety of other functions. People who struggle with drug abuse can benefit from a medically monitored detox because it can help their body flush out the toxins, allowing the liver to recuperate.

Some functions of the liver include:

  • Secreting bile into intestines to help with digestion
  • Purifying blood to disarm harmful chemicals or toxins like drugs and alcohol to prevent them from causing damage
  • Sending harmful chemicals to be secreted in the stool or through the kidneys and urine
  • Producing proteins like albumin that assist in forming blood clots and healing
  • Storing minerals and vitamins
  • Removing bacteria from the bloodstream

The adverse effects of drugs on the liver not only include different diseases, but death as well. People who are addicted to drugs may not realize they’re experiencing problems with their liver because they avoid medical treatment.

Types of Drug-Induced Liver Diseases

Because the liver’s main job is to flush out and disarm harmful chemicals and toxins that enter the body, active drug addiction would essentially force the liver to work significantly harder than normal. Drug abuse can cause different forms of liver disease like hepatitis and cirrhosis.

Drug-Induced Hepatitis

Drug-induced hepatitis refers to the inflammation of the liver. Drugs that can cause hepatitis include Percocet, Vicodin, Ibuprofen, Naproxen, birth control pills, aspirin, and statins. People who combine these drugs with alcohol are at an even higher risk of developing hepatitis.

Symptoms of drug-induced hepatitis include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Dark urine
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pale stool
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Fatigue


Cirrhosis is a type of liver disease that causes loss of liver cells and scarring in the liver. Cirrhosis disarms the body, leaving it vulnerable to bacteria and other toxins that can cause disease and even death.

Symptoms of cirrhosis include:

  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Jaundice
  • Swelling in the abdomen, legs, or feet
  • Vomiting blood
  • Enlarged or swollen veins (varicose)
  • Hepatic encephalopathy (prevents the liver from filtering toxins)
  • Hepatopulmonary syndrome (lung disease caused by liver damage)
  • Hepatorenal syndrome (kidney failure related to liver disease)
  • Hypersplenism (overactive spleen)
  • Cancer

Those who struggle with drug abuse and fail to receive addiction treatment are at risk of developing these liver diseases and more. At Banyan Treatment Centers Heartland, we offer a variety of addiction treatment programs that can help you or a loved one get sober.

How Drugs Cause Liver Disease

Drugs cause liver damage in one of two ways: by directly affecting it and by becoming a dangerous chemical that can be harmful to the liver even after the liver has processed it.

Liver damage is measured by three types of liver toxicity:

  • Dose-dependent

This level of toxicity refers to drugs that can cause liver disease in most people if a high enough dose is ingested. A common example of drugs that cause dose-dependent toxicity is Tylenol or any medications that include acetaminophen.

  • Idiosyncratic

Drugs that cause idiosyncratic toxicity only affect people that have specific genes. These genes affect how the liver breaks down certain drugs. This is the most common form of drug-induced liver disease because people usually take several medications at a time.

  • Drug allergy

When a person has an allergic reaction to a drug, liver inflammation occurs due to the immune system’s attempts at fighting back the drugs.

The combination of drug abuse and liver disease is a common pair that affects many people. If you’re struggling with an addiction, you can avoid liver disease and a variety of other health repercussions by getting professional help. Call our rehab center in Illinois today at 888-280-4763 to learn how to safely detox from drugs and alcohol and begin your recovery journey.

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Alyssa who is the National Director of Digital Marketing, joined the Banyan team in 2016, bringing her five-plus years of experience. She has produced a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. Through strategic marketing campaign concepts, Alyssa has established Banyan as an industry leader and a national household name.