How Alcohol Damages the Liver (And Body)

Alcohol and the liver are not friends. You consume too much alcohol, and the liver will strain to rid itself of the alcoholic toxins. If you want to live, you need a liver. Furthermore, how alcohol affects the liver is education that all alcoholics need to hear as soon as possible. For your body to rid itself of harmful toxins and clean your system, your liver must be active and healthy. What alcohol does to your liver damages its functionality, making it harder for your body to filter out toxins. Unfortunately, alcoholism leads to liver failure, which is fatal.

Furthermore, untreated alcoholism can cause a downward spiral into the three stages of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease. The short-term effects of alcohol on the liver consist of visible signs of dehydration, mood swings, and redness and swelling of the hands and feet. The long-term effects of alcohol on the liver are more severe, such as cirrhosis, hepatic encephalopathy, and liver cancer.

There is a multitude of treatment centers in Savannah, Georgia, that offer Alcohol Use Disorder treatment, including detox and rehabilitation services. Call an addiction specialist today at 912-214-3867 to find the treatment plan and therapies that best fit your needs.


Alcohol can damage a person’s body in a lot of different ways. Then continue reading for more information about how you can help yourself.

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There is a difference between drinking alcohol and being an alcoholic. People often separate alcoholism and addiction when alcoholism is, simply stated, an addiction to alcohol. Addiction rewires the brain by activating and suppressing different receptors in the brain to achieve the substance’s desired euphoric result. In this case, alcohol floods your liver with toxins that your liver must work extra hard to filter through. Alcoholism is an addiction to drinking, regardless of the consequences. Unfortunately, an inability to discontinue drinking can be life-threatening; as alcohol damages the liver, you need to filter your body of toxins. Alcohol has harmful toxins that your liver must sift through, and flooding your alcohol system can cause your liver to become overworked and fail.

Moreover, the liver is one of the essential organs in your body. Fortunately, unlike other organs, your liver can repair itself. However, if the liver’s damage is critical, you may be required to undergo surgery for a liver transplant to survive.

Why Alcoholics Need Treatment

Excessive alcohol consumption causes vitamin deficiencies, liver damage, and generates by-products called free radicals that damage the liver more than the alcohol itself. Alcoholics are at a far greater risk of liver diseases than others, including alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis. Though the liver is a regenerative organ, overexposure to alcohol can overwhelm liver functionality, causing the regenerative properties to falter. Moreover, detox and rehabilitation allow alcoholics to safely withdraw from alcohol use disorder symptoms, allowing the liver a chance to recover. In severe alcoholism cases, your liver may need medicines to restore liver vitality and bring your body back to an autonomous state of health.

However, if you or someone you know is suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder, reaching out to an addiction specialist can introduce you to the available services. Addiction specialists can provide education on detox, rehabilitation, therapeutic, and even intervention services to fit your recovery needs best. Alcoholism can lead to dangerous health risks if left unchecked. Once the liver reaches critical damage, Alcohol-Related Liver Disease requires medical treatment to survive. In extreme cases, a liver transplant may be necessary due to the liver’s inability to regenerate.

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

Alcohol-Related Liver Disease (ARLD) is a disease that causes the liver to become inflamed and swollen from alcohol use disorder. In fact, ARLD is what alcohol does to your liver over a long period of use. Around 10 percent of the United States population are heavy-drinkers, and among those Americans, about 15 percent will develop ARLD. For instance, there are three stages of ARLD:

  • Alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Acute alcoholic hepatitis
  • Alcoholic cirrhosis

In the first stage of ARLD, fat deposits begin to surround the liver, choicely named Alcoholic fatty liver disease. Your liver can be cured in this stage by discontinuing to drink alcohol. How alcohol affects the liver is by decreasing its natural functionality. The liver will get a chance to stop filtering toxins from the alcohol and refocus on healing itself.

The second stage of ARLD is called Acute alcoholic hepatitis. In this stage, excessive alcohol consumption causes the liver to swell. In addition, not only does this decrease liver functionality, but it will require treatment. However, alcoholism treatment can repair liver damage. But, in more severe cases, alcoholic hepatitis treatment may not be enough to save the liver from failure.

Lastly, the final stage of liver disease is called alcoholic cirrhosis. Alcoholic cirrhosis causes scarring on the liver that cannot be repaired. This stage of ARLD can lead to liver failure, which would require a liver transplant to survive. Alcohol, and the liver damage that it brings, can be avoided by not drinking alcohol and repaired by treatment. Contact us today if you are looking for alcohol treatment. Our professionals will work with you to get you the help that you need.

You Are at a Higher Risk If…

Some factors increase your risk of developing Alcohol-Related Liver Disease such as your drinking frequency, diet, and family history. For instance, you may drink heavily, which increases your risk, but you can also binge drink and double the trouble. Additionally, a family medical history of alcoholism and a poor diet can put an alcoholic at significant risk of developing liver disease. Healthy nutrition is a way to combat the physical effects of alcoholism while strengthening the liver by eating foods like oatmeal, garlic, and berries.

Moreover, women are also known to be at a higher risk than men due to lower gastric activity levels. These lower levels allow for more percentage of alcohol to reach the liver, creating a medical skepticism that women may be at a higher pre-disposition than men to develop Alcohol-Related Liver Disease.

With millions of Americans struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder, the risk of liver-failure deaths is significant. However, the liver is one of the essential organs in the body, and you cannot survive without one. Continuous damage to the liver caused by alcoholism can lead to fatality, and you deserve to have a healthy body.

Signs That Alcohol Has Damaged Your Liver

However, there is not a direct path from one stage of ARLD to another. For instance, an alcoholic may begin showing signs of ARLD in the first stage, while others may not show signs until the damage is critical. However, a collection of specific symptoms that create a list of short-term alcohol effects on the liver may indicate potential liver damage.

For instance, symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Appetite loss
  • Jaundice (yellow or gray eyes)
  • Drowsiness
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormally thirsty (dehydrated)
  • Swollen legs and abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Skin pigmentation discoloration
  • Red hands or feet
  • Dark stool
  • Prone to fainting
  • Agitation
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Bleeding gums
  • Enlarged breasts in men

Look for signs of dehydration, lack of energy, and the increased effects these deficiencies would have. Alcohol causes dehydration, which causes the body to look dry, chapped, flaky, discolored, etc. Additionally, alcoholism causes a lack of energy from B vitamin deficiencies. Your body is tired from working so hard to filter out the toxins from the alcohol; it does not have much energy left to spare for the rest of the body.

Furthermore, lack of energy causes irritation over minor issues, excessive tiredness, headaches, aches, and pains, etc. These symptoms, combined with a knowledge of alcoholic tendencies, is cause for concern. Call an addiction specialist today for further educational insight if you are unsure if you or a loved one fits the symptoms.

How bad can it get?

The long-term effects of alcohol on the liver, if left untreated, can be dire. Some damage can be repaired, while other cases are too severe for treatment to remedy.


Cirrhosis is the final and most severe stage of liver disease. Alcoholic cirrhosis is intense scarring on the liver that is irreparable. In addition, this level of scarring causes liver functionality to fail. Throughout this stage, other symptoms contribute to the overall damage of this disease.

Bleeding Esophageal Varices

Those who have the liver disease often suffer from bleeding esophageal varices (BEVs). In simpler terms, those are enlarged veins in the esophagus. However, bleeding esophageal varices occur in the lower esophagus that can erupt and bleed when the area becomes swollen and reduces blood flow to the liver.

Loss of Brain Function

With lower liver functionality, toxins within the body are more difficult to filter out. A buildup of toxins can accumulate inside the bloodstream, which is called hepatic encephalopathy. Alcoholism causes harmful damage to the liver, slowing its pace and decreasing efficiency, resulting in unfiltered blood toxins that damage brain functionality. Also, the brain controls the body, so this effect is devastating.


Lastly, Alcohol-Related Liver Disease can be fatal. You cannot survive without your liver, as it filters through and removes harmful toxins in the body. The liver acts in our best interest by eliminating these toxins from our consumed food and drinks, without which we would die. However, in dire situations, an emergency liver transplant may be required. Alcoholism can end your life; early detection and treatment can help to depend on the severity of the damage and length of use.

We can help

Treatments for Alcohol Addiction

Treatment for any addiction starts with detox. We will help you to stop drinking by assisting in reducing the craving to drink alcohol. What alcohol does to your liver can cause irreparable damage if left untreated. The liver is such an essential organ to your survival, jeopardizing your body’s vital tool is not safe or healthy. It is best to determine your addiction’s origin to prevent alcohol from being a part of your future.

At the various treatment centers in Savannah, we can provide recovery services that encompass the whole-person health. We believe that addiction affects several aspects of your life, and we want to help you fully heal, not just recover. Therapies to discover the reason for your addiction, medical staff to heal your body from what alcohol does to your liver and body, and group meetings to find support and encouragement will be there for you every step of the way. Call us today and our experts will work with you to help you start your better life now.

You Are Not Alone

Alcoholism is prevalent throughout the United States, mainly in part to the legality of alcohol. Unlike non-prescription drugs, alcohol can be inexpensive and is legal upon reaching the age of 21. Economic hardship, abuse, trauma, and many more disturbances can cause someone to cope with alcohol. You are not alone, and we can help you.

To summarize, if you or someone you know is suffering from Alcohol Use Disorder, call an addiction specialist to find out more about the Recovery Treatment Substance Abuse center’s treatment options, intervention services, and detox programs.

Moving forward

What alcohol does to your liver is damages its functionality, making it harder for your body to filter itself. Alcoholism leads to liver failure, which is fatal. Untreated alcoholism can cause a downward spiral into the three stages of Alcohol-Related Liver Disease. The short-term effects of alcohol on the liver consist of visible signs of dehydration, mood swings, and redness and swelling of the hands and feet. The long-term effects of alcohol on the liver are more severe, such as cirrhosis, hepatic encephalopathy, and liver cancer.

However, recovery Treatment Substance Abuse center in Savannah, Georgia, offers Alcohol Use Disorder treatment, including detox and rehabilitation services. Call our addiction specialists today at 912-214-3867 to find the treatment plan and therapies that best fit your needs.


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