When speaking on the subject of alcoholism, the negative implications onones health are plentiful. Outside of the social ramifications of alcohol abuse – such as its impact on familial, personal and romantic relationships, career goals, and possible legal troubles – the effects of alcohol on one’s health are a very troubling reality for most alcoholics.
How Does Alcohol Affect the Liver?
After drinking alcohol it is absorbed into the bloodstream after passing through the stomach and intestines. The liver contains enzymes that help to break down the alcohol through the metabolic process. This process is accomplished by circulating the blood through the liver in order to detoxify the body. The liver cells can only detoxify so much alcohol per hour and increasing the amount of work it has to do often leads to damage. The amount of damage goes up considerably if you are consistently drinking more alcohol than the liver can quickly metabolize.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) short-term health risks, such as injuries due to falls, motor vehicle accidents, violence-related episodes, alcohol poisoning, risky sexual behavior, or female-specific problems such as miscarriage, stillbirth or birth defects, are all relatively common amongst moderate to heavy drinkers. In addition, there are serious long-term risks to health that are associated with moderate or heavy alcohol use, such as: high blood pressure, cancer, problems with learning or memory and mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.
Outside of all of these potential risks, the damage to the liver caused by alcohol can lead to serious, life-threatening or altering, issues such as cirrhosis, fatty liver, and hepatitis.
What is Cirrhosis?
Cirrhosis is a life-threatening condition that is caused by a number of conditions, such as hepatitis or chronic alcohol abuse. The body relies on the liver to execute key functions such as detoxifying the body from harmful substances, bile production for digestion, and storing energy in the form of glycogen.
Cirrhosis is a response caused by damage to the liver. This response is categorized by the replacement of damaged liver tissue with scar tissue and nodules formed by the liver attempting to repair itself.
Treatment is possible, and if caught early enough, further damage can be limited. That said, advanced cirrhosis is typically life-threatening, and even cirrhosis caught in the early to middle stages can severely alter or negatively impact your life.
What is Fatty Liver?
Fatty liver is a build-up of fatty tissue in the liver amongst heavy drinkers. The condition itself is remedied and reverses itself should you stop drinking. However, heavy drinkers or those that have been drinking for a considerable amount of time are prone to these fatty deposits progressing into a condition known as alcoholic hepatitis.
What is Hepatitis?
Hepatitis means an inflammation of the liver and can range in severity from quite mild to very severe. In its milder forms, there may not be any noticeable symptoms but more severe hepatitis can lead to symptoms such as, nausea, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes), liver pain and general feelings of sickness or being unwell. When hepatitis worsens, it typically leads to liver failure, which causes problems with blood clotting, bleeding into the digestive system, severe jaundice, coma and even death.
Treatment is possible, but hepatitis isn’t curable. Treatment typically involves drastic lifestyle changes such as an end to ingesting any type of alcohol, steroids, and adherence to a strict dietary regimen. Sometimes, a feeding tube is necessary to provide adequate levels of macronutrient substance directly into the stomach.
How Can Prescott House Help?
Prescott House is a men’s long-term treatment and sobriety center that helps men to regain a sense of normalcy after extended periods of alcohol abuse. Our adherence to the 12-step program, as well as a community-focused living center and sober living environment, helps men in varying stages of alcohol abuse learn what it takes to get their lives back on track and break the grips of addiction once and for all.