A good portion of the population drinks from time to time. Alcohol consumption only becomes a problem when it is done in copious amounts. If drinking becomes a serious issue, it can start to cause problems to the liver and other organs. Let our staff at New Directions help you reverse alcoholism that has wreaked havoc on your body.
What is Alcoholism, and Why is it So Prevalent?
Alcoholism occurs when an individual has an uncontrollable habit of drinking on a day to day basis. Alcohol use turns into abuse when an individual is no longer able to ignore the compulsive urge to drink. Once this happens, a codependency forms between the person and the substance.
Alcohol abuse is prevalent in the U.S. because it’s so easily accessible. There are billboards, stores, and whole industries centered around the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol companies sell the idea that drinking alcohol frequently is “cool.” The feelings given off from usage also bring individuals into a relaxed state. The more they drink the alcohol, the more they fiend for the feeling it brings them.
What Are Some Signs of Alcoholism?
Signs of alcoholism can be hidden but also noticeable. It just depends on the person whom the disease has affected. Some individuals can conceal their alcoholism well, so it is important to look for telling signs if you think a loved one has developed a dependency on alcohol. Some of these signs can include:
- Avoiding responsibilities
- Being late or not showing up to work or school
- Having a constantly disheveled appearance
- Bad odor or breath
- Extreme weight loss or weight gain
- Complaining about always being tired
- Mood swings that are not provoked
- Stealing money or objects to pay for their alcohol use
How Long-Term Alcohol Use Can Affect the Liver
Long-term use of alcohol affects the liver in negative ways. Because of this, individuals who continue to drink can have consequences for the rest of their lives.
How the Body Processes Alcohol
When consumed, alcohol immediately enters the small intestine and is absorbed. From there, the alcohol enters the bloodstream and stays there for a couple of hours. Once the alcohol leaves the bloodstream, it then enters the liver to be metabolized. An enzyme called antidiuretic hormone (ADH) in the liver breaks down the alcohol in order for it to leave the body.
The liver can metabolize one ounce of alcohol per hour on average. When individuals drink more than this, that is when the feeling of intoxication comes into play. Because someone is drinking more than the body can handle, the liver is not able to process it quickly.
How Can This Affect the Liver Over Time?
Because alcohol is a toxin in the body, it has detrimental effects on it when consumed constantly. As the liver becomes oversaturated on a daily basis due to binge drinking, it starts to lose the power to metabolize it. If ignored, diseases can start to infect the liver.
Cirrhosis of the liver is a disease that can happen if alcohol consumption is not controlled. It occurs when normal liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue. Over time, the cirrhosis may spread to the entire liver making it unable to work at all anymore. This is when doctors deem this “liver failure.”
How Does Alcohol Affect Men vs. Women?
Women and men react differently to alcohol. This is because men have a higher enzyme count in their livers that makes it easier for them to break down the substance. It also comes down to genetics.
Women tend to be smaller in size and frame compared to men. Because of this, their bodies can handle less alcohol. Women also carry more fat and less water in their bodies genetically. This causes women to retain the alcohol they have consumed instead of diluting it. In comparison, one drink affects a woman the same way two drinks affect a man.
How Quickly Can the Liver Reverse Alcoholism?
Although it may take time, damage caused to the liver by drinking excessively can be reversed. If caught quickly enough, your liver can be saved before it’s too late.
The Time Frame of Healing the Liver and What is the Most Helpful
Thankfully, the liver is capable of healing itself. It’s able to regenerate and produce new tissue to continue working normally. In order to do so, there are some lifestyle changes one must make.
The most important thing is to stop drinking alcohol completely. When this happens, it gives the liver a break from constantly working to break down the alcohol. It also helps to eat a healthy diet with low sodium and exercise regularly.
The time it can take for results to be seen can vary from person to person. Depending on the length of time the alcohol was consumed, changes can happen within days. For more severe cases, it may take months to completely heal the liver.
More Severe Cases
For certain individuals, healing the liver may be out of the question. If not caught quickly enough, cirrhosis can cause complete liver failure. In this situation, an individual will need to get a liver transplant in order to extend their life expectancy.
Without a liver transplant, an individual’s body functions will start to fail. We want to help reduce those chances in any way we can. Let our staff at New Directions catch the potential for cirrhosis before it’s too late.
What Are Some Reasons People Drink?
There are many reasons why individuals develop unhealthy drinking habits. Some of them relate to experiences that happened throughout their lifetime. Some of them could be everyday stressors. Here are some examples of what cause people to over-consume alcohol:
- Past trauma like sexual, physical, or emotional abuse
- Unresolved self-esteem issues
- Stressful home life or work environment
- Not wanting to deal with responsibilities
- Unable to cope with certain things around them
- Untreated mental disorders
- Injuries that have taken a toll on their overall health
If you believe someone you know is experiencing issues with alcohol abuse, let us help at New Directions. We want to give each of our patients a chance at a full recovery. In order to do so, treatment may be needed.
How Can Treatment Help Alcoholism?
Treatment is often the only option for helping reverse the effects of alcoholism. Patients who seek out treatment are more likely to recover fully and stay sober. At New Directions, we offer a variety of different treatment options in order to make this happen.
The First Step: Detox
The first step to recovery from alcoholism is the process known as detoxification. Alcohol detox allows the body to get used to not having the substance within the system. This process is completed by slowly removing the toxin from the body over a short period of time.
Detox cannot normally be completed in the home by oneself. This is because the body is so used to constantly having the substance that it can start to shut down. We do not recommend that patients try to go “cold turkey” or complete the detox process on their own.
Types of Treatment
After detox is complete, our staff will evaluate each patient’s state of recovery. We offer every level of treatment here within our facility. Certain patients will need more intensive therapy than others. The most severe cases will remain in our inpatient facilities to complete treatment. There, they will be on a strict schedule that allows them to solely focus on their recovery.
If deemed necessary, we also offer intensive outpatient and partial day treatment. This type of treatment is for those that want to remain on a somewhat normal schedule while receiving therapy. Patients who are enrolled in this level are able to work and go to school while also coming to our facilities.
We understand not everyone’s journey will be the same. That is why we want to offer as many types of therapies and treatments as possible. At New Directions, we will give you a second chance at reversing the effects of your alcoholism.
Let Us Help You Today
Reversing the effects that alcoholism has had on the liver is important for a long-lasting life. In our facility at New Directions, our staff takes pride in helping each patient in any way we can.
If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects of their alcoholism, please reach out to us today. We are available through calling and messaging on our website. There is no better time than right now to start healing your liver.