Alcohol Use Disorder: Long-Term Health Effects and How to Reverse Them
Alcohol addiction wreaks havoc on nearly every system in the body. After detoxing from alcohol, which should be done under the supervision of a medical professional, the body starts to heal. With long-term alcohol abstinence, depending on the level and length of abuse, much of the damage of alcoholism can be reversed.
At TruHealing Centers, our alcohol addiction treatment program provides the foundation for people to begin their road to recovery from an alcohol use disorder. Learn more about overcoming the effects of an alcohol use disorder from our team today by completing our online form or calling 833.631.0525.
What Happens to Your Body When You Drink?
After it is consumed, alcohol is absorbed into the blood through the stomach and the intestines. If the stomach has food in it, alcohol stays there longer and the stomach’s enzymes break down more of the alcohol before it enters the intestines. The alcohol then moves from the intestines into the bloodstream and throughout the whole body. As the body has no way to store alcohol like it does proteins, carbohydrates and fats, metabolizing alcohol becomes the priority. It’s the liver’s responsibility to remove alcohol from the blood. But when too much alcohol has been ingested for the liver to process, it takes a toll on the body—starting with the liver, but eventually moving to just about every organ.
Effects of Alcohol on The Liver
One main function of the liver is to get rid of toxins from the blood. Chronic abuse of alcohol puts a significant strain on the liver and can cause liver disease. The three main types of liver disease are:
This is the accumulation of a large amount of fat inside liver cells, making it more difficult for the liver to do its job. It is an early stage of alcohol-related liver disease and is common among heavy drinkers—90-100% of heavy alcohol users have it. However, this can be reversed after at least two weeks of alcohol abstinence.
Alcohol Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver, often with significant cell death in the liver as well. About 35% of heavy drinkers have Alcoholic Hepatitis. Alcoholic Hepatitis can be reversed with sustained alcohol abstinence, but it can vary depending on the severity. Some people show normal blood work after two years of abstaining from alcohol.
This is the most serious form of liver damage—when the functional liver cells die and are replaced by scar tissue. This condition is life-threatening and occurs in 10-20% of chronic heavy drinkers.
What Happens to the Body During Detox?
As alcohol is a depressant, it slows brain function and alters the way nerves send messages. With chronic alcohol abuse, the body adjusts by producing naturally stimulating chemicals, such as serotonin, to keep the brain active. According to Harvard Health, “If the alcohol is withdrawn suddenly, the brain is like an accelerated vehicle that has lost its brakes. Not surprisingly, most symptoms of withdrawal are symptoms that occur when the brain is overstimulated.” Symptoms of alcohol withdrawal can include tremors (commonly called “the shakes”), hallucinations, anxiety, and seizures. The most serious symptom is delirium tremens, which severely impacts the body’s breathing, circulation and temperature control. It is crucial for people not to detox on their own. A medical professional will be able to administer the proper care to keep the person safe and comfortable.
There Is Help at TruHealing Centers
If you are struggling with alcohol use or a co-occurring mental health disorder, TruHealing Centers is here for you. Our facilities across the country offer the full continuum of care, from Medical Detox to Outpatient Programs. Treatment with us will help safely rid your body of the toxic substance while helping you work through the core issues that caused you to use alcohol. When you leave our care, you will have the tools to build a healthy life and thrive in long-term recovery. Your body will thank you! To learn more, call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005 or fill out our online form.
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