Alcohol abuse is a condition that can affect every single aspect of a person’s life. Alcoholism can wreak havoc on a person’s body (depending on what stage of alcoholism they are in). Not only does your body take its toll but so does your mind. This is why it is extremely important to get help sooner than later.
One of the body parts that experiences the most damage is the liver. Your chances of liver disease and other complications skyrockets. Over time, your body can take a beating if alcohol intake is not stopped. Fortunately, in regards to how to heal your liver or how to repair liver damage after alcoholism, there are some ways you can naturally do so. This, of course, requires you to first stop drinking altogether.
Luckily, you aren’t alone in your struggles. Coastal Detox can be your stepping stone to a happier and better life down the line. This starts with the decision to stop drinking and take back your life. Don’t wait to get help from professionals; get the help you need right now!
A Look at Alcoholism and Abuse
When a person is suffering from alcohol abuse they will be becoming entirely dependent on it. While drinking here and there for social events is normal, drinking tons of alcohol on a regular basis is not normal. This can indicate a deeper problem in the form of alcoholism (also called alcohol use disorder or AUD). Along with the long list of negative symptoms (including death and motor vehicle accidents), there are long-term effects as well.
As mentioned, organs like the liver can be injured from years of drinking. More complications can begin to arise when a person decides to go sober. Not only that but stress and anxiety can create a vicious circle for the addict. Alcoholism typically requires a number of treatment methods (which we’ll discuss later). A mix of therapy, detox, and medication can be used to treat alcoholism.
How Do Years of Drinking Affect the Liver?
Oftentimes a person dealing with alcohol use disorder will drink large amounts of alcohol for years (sometimes decades). After drinking, a person may decide they want to stop drinking and become sober. Unfortunately, by this point, the liver has already taken a beating over the years due to excessive drinking.
Even if the person knows the effects that drinking can have on the liver and the body, alcoholism is hard to overcome. It is a process that takes time and even if a person wants to stop, they may not be able to alone. The liver eventually stops functioning correctly after years of constant drinking. Years later, a person will most likely already have liver disease and the most severe problems.
What many people don’t know is that the liver can actually regenerate over time. Unfortunately, problems arise when liver diseases like cirrhosis, fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, and Hepatitis C enter the picture. Some of these diseases can be deadly if left untreated.
A Closer Look at Liver Diseases
There is not just one type of liver disease, there are several different types, and these can end up being fatal if left untreated. It’s important to know the name and symptoms of some of these so you are aware of some of the consequences of alcoholism and excessive drinking.
Repetitive drinking and damage to the cells in the liver tend to cause severe scarring. Over time these cells stop working properly and the way they should. While the liver does have the potential to self-repair itself, these cells cannot repair and stop functioning completely. They almost act as cellular pieces that hold the liver together.
This intense scarring is referred to as liver fibrosis. When it comes to liver fibrosis, it’s important to catch it early. While a small amount of liver fibrosis won’t do too much damage to the liver, if left untreated, fibrosis can become a permanent impairment. In the early stages, liver fibrosis almost has no physical symptoms. However, the more you drink the more scarring will begin to occur over time.
As a person continues to drink in excess, they may contract alcoholic hepatitis (which, as the name suggests, is known to happen in alcoholics). Alcoholic hepatitis attacks and destroys the liver over time. This happens because of severe inflammation due to excessive alcohol use. Alcoholic hepatitis is a destructive and terrible disease that makes the body poison itself.
(Please note that alcoholic hepatitis is not the same as hepatitis C. Hepatitis C is a completely different disease that’s usually contracted through infect blood contact. Although it is worth mentioning that someone with alcoholic hepatitis has an increased chance of contracting hepatitis C. Alcoholic hepatitis is a very severe disease and should be met with medical attention as soon as possible.)
It’s important to keep in mind some of the symptoms of alcoholic hepatitis. By the time alcoholic hepatitis is seen in the system, it’s usually a sign that the liver is in very bad shape. Common symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Dried mouth
- Vomiting and nausea
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Painful or swollen abdomen
- Yellow coloring in the skin or eyes
- Loss of appetite (or overall change in appetite)
- Changes in your mental state, including confusion
Cirrhosis of the Liver
Cirrhosis of the liver is known as the most common diagnosis of alcohol-related liver disease. Cirrhosis is also the more severe and most series of the bunch. Since the cells in the liver are damaged and not working properly, the liver is unable to process and build toxins (at least not fast enough). This can cause major problems in the body.
Get medical help as soon as you can if you notice any of these symptoms:
- Loss of bodyweight
- Change of appetite
- Red or blotchy palms
- Pain and tenderness in the liver area
- Itchy skin
- Blood capillaries become visible on the skin on the upper abdomen
More severe symptoms (which occur in the long-term) include:
- Loss of hair
- Muscle cramps
- Loss of sex drive
- Problems with memory
- Higher susceptibility to bruising
- Fluid buildup on feet, ankles, and legs
- More vulnerable to infections and other diseases
- Yellowing tint in the skin, whites of the eyes, and tongue
How to Repair Liver Damage
Walking the path of alcoholism recovery is an amazing first step towards a better life. However, there are things you need to do to physically heal your body from alcohol-related damage. One of the simplest and easiest ways to start the healing process is to drink water. This means drinking a lot of water (much more than your average person).
Water is one of the best ways to rejuvenate the liver and flush it out. While many may turn to tea or juice but water is the ultimate solution. Consistently drinking loads of water can help you slowly heal from the damage done by alcoholism. Since the liver’s job is to flush out toxins, water helps the liver do this. In general, water helps the entire body run more smoothly and effectively. This is one of the best ways to start healing right now.
The Benefits of Exercise
On the topic of how to heal your liver, comes exercise. Typically, doctors always recommend getting more exercise if they spot early signals of liver damage. There is much research that suggests that exercise can do wonders when trying to combat alcohol-related problems. By exercising frequently it is shown that the liver is able to protect itself from inflammation and other ‘metabolic dysfunctions’.
Just like with water, there are so many other health benefits associated with exercise. While exercise helps combat further inflammation, it also helps with depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems common in alcohol drinkers. It can also be your go-to activity if you have certain cravings to start drinking again. After all, exercise is shown to release similar ‘feel good’ chemicals (which is a great substitute for drinking).
Eating Smart and Healthy
The liver is responsible for flushing out toxins in the blood and body. These toxins predominantly come from the food we eat and the things we drink. To physically heal the liver, it only makes sense to eat healthily and light so the liver can heal more efficiently. This means staying away from certain foods and eating healthier alternatives as well.
Here are some foods you should try to eat when dealing with liver issues:
- Green tea
- Lots of garlic
- Drink coffee
- Oatmeal or other high-fiber foods
- Carrots, broccoli, and lots of vegetables
- Acidic fruits (lemons, oranges, berries, etc.)
- Try to stick to a plant-based diet if possible
- Try oils, nuts, and other foods that have Omega-3 in them
Here are the foods you should NOT eat while trying to heal the liver:
- Don’t drink soda of any kind
- Stay away from greasy and fatty foods
- Avoid fake or processed sugar and salt
- Steer clear of fatty animal proteins (steak included)
- Stay clear of bread, pasta, cakes, and other starchy food
- Do not drink alcohol (this is crucial to healing instead of causing more damage)
Maintaining the right diet requires discipline and planning. Make sure to stick closely to your diet plan so your liver can begin to heal. While it may not be easy, there are plenty of things you can do to stay on track, just this about the irreparable damage that can occur if you don’t. Start your healing process today.
Stop Drinking Alcohol
So now that we’ve discussed how to heal your liver, it’s important to discuss the biggest issue of all. Alcohol is the main reason that you may be suffering from liver disease (or other diseases). This is why it’s absolutely essential that you stop drinking alcohol. While it is not an easy road it is required to live a healthy, long life.
One of the main things to look out for is the withdrawal process. At the starting point of treatment, a person will most likely be dependent on alcohol. This can cause a number of health issues. This process requires a facility like Coastal Detox to handle the intense withdrawal symptoms during detox. After treatment is all set in done (or in the process), it is up to you to stick with a diet plan, drink plenty of water, and start exercising.
Get Help Today
Now that you know how to heal your liver and maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is time to start healing. If you or a loved one is currently struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, Coastal Detox may be able to help. We specialize in a number of treatment options, particularly detox. Let us help you towards a better place today. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment plans and addiction resources.