Reversing Alcoholic Liver Disease

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Nicholas Conn

Nicholas Conn is a leading industry addiction expert who runs the UK’s largest addiction advisory service and is regularly featured in the national press, radio and TV.

Reversing Alcoholic Liver Disease

Alcoholic liver disease (ALD), or alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) is a liver condition caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

It includes a range of conditions including fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver. ALD is a serious health concern and affects many people in the UK who struggle with alcohol addiction. But is it possible to reverse the damage caused by ALD? What steps can people with ALD take towards recovery?

That’s what we’ll be exploring in this blog post. Read on to learn more about how alcohol affects your liver, the stages of liver disease, and what to expect from treatment for ALRD.

What is Alcoholic Liver Disease?

Alcoholic liver disease develops over a period of time, typically as a result of heavy drinking. It can lead to liver failure and irreversible damage to your liver if left untreated.

It’s a progressive condition that happens when your alcohol intake damages your liver. Your liver works to filter toxins from the blood and performs necessary bodily functions such as metabolising fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

Over time, drinking an excessive amount of alcohol regularly can overwhelm your liver. It can result in inflammation, fatty deposits, and scarring of the liver tissue.

One of the early stages of ALD is alcoholic fatty liver disease. This is where fat deposits increase in your liver cells. At this stage, if you continue drinking alcohol, it may progress to alcoholic hepatitis - which involves inflammation and damage to the liver cells.

Without the right treatment, this may develop into cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis is where scar tissue begins to replace the healthy liver tissue. Ultimately, cirrhosis affects how your liver works, increasing the risk of liver failure and even liver cancer.

Is Alcoholic Liver Disease Reversible?

In short, yes - alcoholic liver disease can be reversed. However, this depends on several factors such as:

  • Your overall health
  • The extent of the liver damage
  • Whether you can abstain from alcohol

In the early stages of ALD, such as fatty liver disease, it is possible to reverse the damage by abstaining from alcohol. The liver is great at regenerating and healing itself, which means that over time, if you stop drinking alcohol, your liver can begin to heal and your liver function can improve.

However, if alcoholic liver disease progresses to more advanced stages, the damage becomes more severe and may not be reversible. For example, if it progresses to cirrhosis of the liver, your liver may become significantly scarred and unable to function well.

Quitting alcohol can prevent further damage and improve your overall health - however, it may not completely reverse advanced cirrhosis. If you have end-stage liver disease, quitting alcohol may not be enough. Instead, the best option may be a liver transplant to prolong your life.

How to Treat Alcoholic Liver Disease

First of all, if you notice that alcohol is impacting your life, whether it be your liver, your finances, or your mental health, the first step is to seek help for alcohol addiction.

This typically involves completing an alcohol detox, where you can safely withdraw from alcohol and manage any withdrawal symptoms. Seeking medical support is key when detoxing from alcohol - withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant and sometimes even dangerous. For example, there is a risk of delirium tremens when you quit drinking alcohol suddenly.

Alcohol rehab can help you to understand the root causes of your addiction as well as your potential triggers. It can equip you with the tools you need to stop drinking alcohol for good. During therapy sessions, you may learn effective coping strategies and tools to help you prevent and manage relapse.

For many, recovery is a lifelong journey. Lifestyle changes such as adopting a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and avoiding alcohol can also support liver health and overall well-being.

If you have concerns about your liver function, speak to a medical professional as soon as possible. Healthcare professionals may monitor your liver function through blood tests or imaging studies to assess the progression of ALD and determine the best treatment options.

In more severe cases, further interventions may be required to manage complications such as liver cancer, hepatic encephalopathy, or pancreatitis. If you have severe alcoholic hepatitis, you may need hospital treatment.

It’s important to note that the use of medication to treat ALRD is controversial - there doesn’t appear to be much evidence to suggest that medication is effective.

Ultimately, the most effective form of treatment for ALRD is to abstain from alcohol. This is something we can help you with here at Help4Addiction.

Get Help For Alcohol Addiction Today

If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol addiction or experiencing symptoms of alcoholic liver disease, we recommend that you seek help from a healthcare professional or specialist in addiction. Early intervention is key when it comes to addiction and liver damage and can help improve outcomes and prevent further damage to the liver.

In the UK, there are countless resources available if you’re seeking support for alcohol addiction and related liver conditions.

The NHS provides assessment and treatment services for alcohol addiction, including detoxification, rehab, and ongoing support. Likewise, there are a range of quality private rehab options available if you’re looking to stop drinking alcohol, whether you have a mild addiction or you’re a severe alcoholic.

At Help4Addiction, we can connect you with the most suitable rehab treatment provider for you. We can help you along your recovery journey, and ensure you receive the treatment you deserve. Getting help can ultimately reduce the risk of developing alcoholic liver disease. Don't hesitate to reach out for help today and begin your recovery journey.

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