Repairing Liver Damage from Alcohol Abuse

When a subject is suffering from alcohol addiction (also known as alcohol abuse or alcohol use disorder), signs and symptoms will manifest themselves in many ways.

In fact, the common symptoms may vary from one subject to the next, depending on their physical and health history, substance, addiction severity, mental health conditions and so on.

Subjects will have an unrelenting compulsion to consume their addictive substance. They may also feel guilty, or angry, or may need to lie about their consumption levels when asked by someone.

Furthermore, they may begin to experience physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, nausea, headaches, vomiting, insomnia, trembling, and even seizures.

If the addicted person consumes alcohol for a longer period of time, they will be susceptible to long-term effects such as hormonal imbalance, stomach ulcers, and even liver disease.

The Effects of Alcohol on the Liver

Alcohol addiction

The liver plays a significant role in the body, in fact, it is the largest organ inside the body. It helps your body digest food, store energy, regulates chemical levels in the blood and excretes something which is called bile.

This bile helps get rid of some of the waste which is in the liver.

The liver also processes blood and breaks it down in order to metabolise substances so that the rest of the body can function without these toxic substances.

When it comes to drinking alcohol, the liver plays an important role in minimising the effect of alcohol on the rest of the body.

It helps by regulating blood sugar levels (ethanol is processed as sugar), filtering toxins from the blood, preventing infections and disease, and much more.

However, when the liver breaks down most of the alcohol content in order for it to be removed from your body, the alcoholic substance ends up damaging liver cells. If the addicted person consumes enough alcohol, it can lead to alcoholic liver disease.

The liver is very resilient. While it can regenerate cells by itself, prolonged alcohol consumption will impair this ability, which will result in serious damage that requires medical assistance or even liver transplants.

This is telling of how extreme someone’s alcohol consumption has become.

What is frightening is that you do not necessarily need to be addicted to alcohol to develop an alcohol-related form of liver disease.

Even moderate drinkers in the past have developed alcohol-related liver disease and suffered due to its severe complications.

Out of all of the people who develop liver disease in the UK, around 6 out of 10 are alcohol-related. 1 in 5 people drink at levels which put them at risk of developing liver disease.

Alcohol is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the world, and Alcoholic Liver Disease is very common in the UK.

By seeking support and beginning a life of abstinence, the likelihood of developing the liver disease will be cut drastically, and subjects can return to a healthy life of sobriety

Symptoms of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

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Alcohol-related liver disease is simply defined as liver damage which has been caused by prolonged alcohol consumption. Symptoms will not appear right away, however.

This is because liver damage is accumulated over a longer period of time which includes heavy drinking, or even moderate consumption of alcohol.

When a subject has been consuming alcohol for a prolonged period of time, they may develop alcoholic liver disease.

Some of its symptoms include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of the eyes and skin)
  • Confusion and brain fog (Encephalopathy)
  • Internal bleeding
  • Kidney failure
  • Liver cancer
  • Increased susceptibility to infection
  • Swelling of the stomach
  • Vomiting blood
  • Excreting blood through stools
  • Weight loss and malnutrition
  • Feelings of sickness

If you are suffering from some of these symptoms and you have been consuming alcohol – whether moderately or heavily – it is possible that you may be suffering from alcohol-related liver damage and liver disease.

Furthermore, consuming alcohol at higher levels can lead to more health complications with the liver, including Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Alcoholic Hepatitis, and Alcohol-Related Liver Cirrhosis.

What is Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is the earliest stage of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease. It is also referred to as Alcoholic Steatohepatitis. This occurs when there is a significant build-up of fat in the liver due to frequent and prolonged alcohol consumption.

When the liver breaks down the alcoholic substances in your body, it can also generate harmful substances. And the more that someone consumes, the more of this substance is generated.

This substance can have adverse effects on the liver such as increasing inflammation, damaging cells, and other effects within the liver. These symptoms can eventually lead to scar tissue on the liver, otherwise known as Liver Cirrhosis.

The symptoms of Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease are not as profound as other stages of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease. If subjects do experience symptoms, they may come in the form of tiredness or discomfort in the upper right side abdomen.

How to Overcome Fatty Liver Disease?

Abstaining from alcohol is necessary in order to overcome alcohol-induced Fatty Liver Disease. The subject’s liver will begin to heal, and after a period of time without alcohol, their liver will return to a good level of health.

Who is at Risk of Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?


Aside from subjects who are consuming alcohol frequently or in great quantities, there are other factors which may increase the susceptibility towards developing Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. These factors include:

  • Obesity and being overweight
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Insulin Resistance
  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Being over the age of 50
  • Smoking

Obesity is linked with what we call Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Liver Disease can also be caused by things other than alcohol.

The best way to prevent this is to consume a moderate amount of nutritious and healthy food and to maintain a healthy weight. Among those who suffer from Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Cardiovascular Disease is one of the leading causes of death.

What Is Alcoholic Hepatitis?

Alcoholic Hepatitis is the inflammation of the liver. While this is more often than not caused by heavy drinking, Alcoholic Hepatitis has been seen to develop within subjects who are only moderate drinkers.

If severe enough, Alcoholic Hepatitis can be life-threatening. It has claimed the lives of many people in the UK already.

There are many symptoms of Alcoholic Hepatitis, and some of these symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and fluid accumulation (ascites)
  • Fever
  • Weakness
  • Malnutrition
  • Confusion and brain fog
  • Kidney and liver failure

Because these subjects are consuming alcoholic substances in higher quantities, they will experience a range of adverse effects which they may not even associate with alcohol consumption.

Subjects will experience symptoms such as malnutrition due to alcohol suppressing their appetite. Malnutrition can lead to further damage because it is more difficult for them to absorb nutrients, leaving them more susceptible to the effects of alcohol.

Additionally, toxic chemicals will build up in the subject’s body which was previously broken down by a more effective and healthy liver. Now that the liver is damaged, subjects may experience significant confusion and brain fog.

Alcoholic Hepatitis can also lead to liver scarring which will then slow down blood flow through the liver. This will then increase pressure on major blood vessels, and this can lead to several complications such as; ascites, kidney failure, and enlarged veins.

Alcoholic Hepatitis can also develop in subjects who have not necessarily consumed alcohol for a long period of time.

If a subject begins to take part in what we call ‘binge drinking’, which means excessive alcohol consumption within a short period of time, they can develop Alcoholic Hepatitis, although this is less common than subjects who have consumed alcoholic substances for a longer period of time. Alcoholic Hepatitis will increase the likelihood of developing Liver Cirrhosis.

How To Overcome Alcoholic Hepatitis?

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Subjects who are suffering from Alcoholic Hepatitis need to stop drinking alcohol forever in order to prevent further life-changing damage or even mortality.

In addition to abstinence, patients can undergo a range of treatments in the form of medication, therapy and counselling at a drug and alcohol rehab.

Medications which can treat liver inflammation include Corticosteroids and Pentoxifylline. It is paramount that subjects seek the support of a medical professional.

Who is at Risk of Developing Alcoholic Hepatitis?

While the level of alcohol that a subject consumes is the ultimate indication of how likely someone is to develop Alcoholic Hepatitis, there are other factors which may make someone more susceptible to developing the disease.

These factors include:

  • Sex (specifically women)
  • Race (potentially those who are black or Hispanic)
  • Genetics
  • Obesity

It is thought that women are more susceptible to developing Alcoholic Hepatitis because alcohol is processed differently in women than men.

It is also thought that those who are black or Hispanic may also be more susceptible to developing Alcoholic Hepatitis.

What is Alcohol-Related Liver Cirrhosis?

When the liver breaks down alcoholic substances and generates harmful substances, these substances can trigger inflammation which will then lead to irreversible scarring of the liver, this is known as Liver Cirrhosis.

It is estimated that alcohol accounts for around 47% of the deaths related to Liver Cirrhosis per year.

Alcohol-Related Liver Cirrhosis is the most advanced form of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease.

This occurs after a long period of time of consuming alcohol, and once subjects have Alcohol-Related Liver Cirrhosis, it indicates that their liver has not been functioning optimally for a significant period of time.

The symptoms of Alcohol-Related Liver Cirrhosis include but aren’t limited to:

  • Muscle atrophy (losing muscle)
  • Frequent bruising
  • Scarring and damage to liver health
  • Jaundice
  • Coagulopathy
  • Fluid builds up in the legs and abdomen
  • Erythema
  • Confusion and brain fog

It is estimated that around 40% of patients suffering from Liver Cirrhosis are also suffering from muscle atrophy.

The same study comes to the conclusion that muscle atrophy is a strong predictor of mortality in patients suffering from Cirrhosis.

It explains how ‘muscle wasting’ has a profound impact on the survival rates of those who are suffering from Liver Cirrhosis.

There is also a strong correlation between muscle atrophy and malnutrition in patients, however, they aren’t direct causes of each other.

Liver Cirrhosis can also lead to an increased risk of liver cancer. It is estimated that around 6,000 people die each year in the UK due to liver cancer. Only around 13% of people who experience liver cancer live for another five years.

However, some subjects may not experience any of these symptoms. While symptoms may not be present, it can lead to a sustained consumption of alcohol without realising that the liver health and the subject’s health are in jeopardy.

How to Overcome Alcohol-Related Liver Cirrhosis?

It is thought that the damage caused by Liver Cirrhosis is not reversible. However, subjects and patients can take measures in order to prevent alcohol from inflicting more damage on their essential organ.

By stopping their consumption of alcohol, subjects can expect the severity of symptoms to be decreased and their life expectancy to increase.

According to the NHS, if someone does not put an end to their consumption of alcohol while they have Liver Cirrhosis, they have less than a 50% of surviving for the next five years.

Can Liver Damage be Reversed?

While the liver is the only organ in the body that has the ability to regenerate, liver scarring cannot be reversed. However, liver damage can be reversed if the subject has not reached a stage where their liver is so damaged that it cannot regenerate.

It is thought that after around 30 days of abstinence, the liver will have repaired itself if the subject is not also suffering from Liver Cirrhosis or Alcohol Hepatitis.

Getting Help for Alcohol-Related Liver Disease


Abstinence is essential if subjects want to be treated for their Alcohol-Related Liver Disease. There are no specific forms of medical treatment which directly treat Alcoholic Liver Disease, but abstaining from alcohol for life should prevent further damage to a subject’s essential organs.

If the subject’s liver has reached a stage where it can no longer function, a liver transplant will be necessary.

However, subjects may also experience a range of discomfort and severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, they are required to enter a drug and alcohol rehab in order to overcome their alcohol addiction.

At a drug and alcohol rehab, patients will be required to undergo a medicated detox which will help them overcome alcohol addiction.

Then, they can proceed to overcome their addiction and receive treatment for their Alcohol-Related Liver Disease.

A medicated detox will take around 7 to 10 days to complete. During this stage, patients will allow toxic substances to withdraw in a safe and comfortable environment supervised by medical professionals.

Patients will also receive medication prescribed by an addiction physician in order to help them overcome their alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Following the medicated alcohol detox, patients will undergo a range of therapy and counselling sessions in order to overcome their cognitive, emotional, and mental issues which may be exacerbating their alcohol consumption and their addiction.

A drug and alcohol rehab will also include patients in relapse prevention planning strategies in order to help them maintain their long-term recovery.

Not only will a rehab help patients overcome their addiction, but it will also help them remain in recovery by adopting new habits and methods which can sustain their lifestyle of abstinence.

As for some of the symptoms of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease, there are some forms of treatment and intervention which can treat these.

If a subject is suffering from muscle atrophy, for example, they can undergo nutritional interventions and medically supervised exercise programmes in order to prevent further muscle depletion.

Otherwise, patients will need medical assistance to support them in their efforts to overcome some of the symptoms experienced due to Alcohol-Related Liver Disease.

Get Help Today

If you are suffering from alcohol addiction and you are worried about the condition of your liver, reach out today. You can reach out to Rehab 4 Alcoholism by dialling the number 0800 111 4108 or +44 345 222 3509 for our international hotline.

When you call us at Rehab 4 Alcoholism, you will be greeted by a friendly trained admissions officer.

He or she will have plenty of experience with helping subjects who want to understand more about their alcohol use disorder and those who want to enter a drug and alcohol rehab.

They will be at your disposal in order to gain more understanding and support for your alcohol use disorder.

Rehab 4 Alcoholism will guide you through each step. While the process of entering a drug and alcohol rehab may seem daunting at first, our objective is to help you transition into recovery and undergo an optimal treatment plan for your unique needs.

The sooner that you reach out for support in your quest to overcome addiction, the more likely you are to succeed.


[1] Alcohol’s Effect on the Body and the Liver

[2] Living With a Liver Condition

[3] Fatty Liver Disease

[4] Alcoholic Hepatitis

[5] A Practical Approach to the Spectrum of Alcoholic Liver Disease, An Issue of Clinics in Liver Disease

[6] Alcoholic Hepatitis – Symptoms and Causes

[7] Alcohol Abuse and Liver Disease

[8] Alcoholic Cirrhosis Symptoms

[9] Impact of Muscle Wasting on Survival in Patients with Liver Cirrhosis,increases%20along%20with%20disease%20severity.

[10] Cancer Statistics,deaths%20(2017%2D2019).

[11] Alcohol Related Liver Disease – ARLD

[12] Liver disease: Frequently Asked Questions

[13] Treatment of Alcoholic Liver Disease