Cirrhosis of the liver is the progressive development of scar tissue on the liver. This interferes with liver function. Cirrhosis needs to be addressed as early as possible, both with diagnosis and treatment. Alcohol addiction creates a strain on the liver and the damage may become irreversible. Getting treatment for alcoholism and stopping alcohol intake, will discontinue the progression of cirrhosis of the liver.
What is Cirrhosis of the Liver?
The liver assists with the digestive system by producing substances to break down lipids and fats in order to make foods more digestible. The liver also helps filter toxins that are received from the intestines, through the bloodstream before the blood is pumped through the rest of the body. The liver produces key blood proteins involved in metabolism, general physiologic regulation, and blood clotting.
Other functions of a healthy liver include:
- Control of infection
- Production of bile to absorb fat
- Metabolism of hormones
Cirrhosis of the liver is a potentially life-threatening condition. This occurs when scar tissue damages the liver. The scarring, called fibrosis, replaces healthy tissue and prevents the diseased liver from functioning properly. Cirrhosis usually develops after years of chronic liver inflammation produced by ingesting toxins at a high rate. Research has shown that there are two major causes of cirrhosis of the liver. The first is consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol over the course of many years (alcoholism). The second is certain forms of viral hepatitis such as Hepatitis B or C. Other causes can be medication related, metabolic disorders, and fatty liver disease.
There are a variety of diseases or disorders which disrupt the liver’s proper function. The most common are:
- Hepatitis: caused by the virus (HCV), drinking, drugs, and/or obesity
- Cirrhosis: long-term liver damage most commonly caused by alcoholism
- Liver cancer: can be idiopathic, due to alcohol or drug abuse, or Hepatitis C
- Liver failure: caused by infection, genetic diseases, drugs or poisons, and/or alcoholism
Alcoholism Contributes to the Development of Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis has been linked to excessive and chronic alcohol intake, such as that associated with alcoholism. Women are particularly vulnerable to alcoholic cirrhosis because women have fewer enzymes than men. This which means they metabolize alcohol in more slowly.
Cirrhosis of the liver is a disease that can be halted if treated in the early disease stage. However, with long-term alcohol and drug addiction, alcoholic cirrhosis or chronic liver damage will continue to occur. At some point, the liver damage becomes irreversible. No amount of treatment can lead to a fully-functioning liver. The behaviors associated with alcoholism, such as a poor diet and lack of medical follow-up, also place the liver at risk.
Alcoholism contributes to the development of cirrhosis. The condition of scarring worsens as cirrhosis continues to develop. Scar tissue surrounds the normal liver cells, making the tissue bumpy or nodular. This bumpy liver tissue will block the bile ducts causing bile to back up into the liver and bloodstream. Scar tissue will also block blood flow into the liver. Lack of blood flow will enlarge the veins and lead to high blood pressure (portal hypertension). This makes the movement of blood from the liver to the intestines difficult. At this point, the liver is unable to metabolize alcohol and this produces many visible physical symptoms.
How Long Can You Live With Cirrhosis of the Liver?
When an individual has cirrhosis of the liver, their life expectancy is dependent upon a few factors. The main factor is your MELD score. MELD stands for Model for End-Stage Liver Disease. Scores range from 6 to 40 and the higher the number, the shorter your life expectancy is. Quitting drinking can greatly increase someone’s chances of recovery.
There are many stages to cirrhosis of the liver. If you stop drinking alcohol, you can stop the progression of alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver. In the early stages, liver damage is reversible. Call us now at 866-812-8231 and regain your health.
Cirrhosis of the Liver Symptoms
Often times, cirrhosis of the liver symptoms are not visible. When symptoms do present themselves, they include the following.
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Weight loss
- Spider-like blood vessels
- Abnormal bleeding
- Gynecomastia (enlargement of the breast tissue in men)
- Loss of sex drive in men
- Bleeding and bruising easily
Other Drugs That Produce Cirrhosis
Acetaminophen is a compound found in many over the counter medications as well as narcotic drugs such as hydrocodone. Acetaminophen can negatively impact an individual’s healthy liver tissue if abused.
Intravenous drug use, as well as years of living with chronic hepatitis, can also leave people vulnerable to cirrhosis. As with any addiction, substance abusers are sometimes not careful or hygienic and may use dirty needles. Dirty needles allow bacteria into the bloodstream that can produce infections and contribute to the development of hepatitis B or C.
Liver damage can be reversed, but once cirrhosis has developed, the liver cannot be healed. The condition can be managed with treatment and a healthy diet. A liver function test can monitor the progression or regression of cirrhosis. Once cirrhosis reaches advanced stages, a liver transplant may be necessary.
Treatment for Alcoholism and Cirrhosis
Although cirrhosis of the liver may not be completely healed, or a liver transplant may be necessary. The quality of one’s life can be improved greatly by eliminating drugs and alcohol. Before anyone can be placed on the waiting list for a liver transplant, he or she must have their addiction issues treated and stabilized. If the liver disease has not yet progressed to full-blown cirrhosis, the liver is likely to respond positively to most treatments.
Entering a medically-based drug rehab or alcohol rehab can provide you with expertise in addiction medicine. Treatment can also provide an opportunity to treat co-occurring medical and psychiatric conditions. Remember, the medical physician and psychiatrist must work together to make sure that none of the prescribed medications will be toxic to the liver or create or propagate further liver compromise.
Drug addiction and alcoholism destroy the body’s ability to function properly and fight off disease. After years of using, treatment can still work. Success at maintaining sobriety is increased with a medical drug or alcohol detox immediately followed by addiction treatment.
To handle medical problems combined with addiction problems, such as alcoholism and cirrhosis, an addict needs to be in a facility that can respond medically and clinically to all types of medical situations. Your quality of life will be greatly improved with drug and alcohol treatment and proper care of your cirrhosis.
Do You Have Questions About Cirrhosis and Alcoholism?
Call us today to speak with one of our addiction specialists. Our representatives can answer questions about what to expect while in treatment, what services are available, and how we can help you begin your journey toward long-term recovery.
- Addiction Treatment and Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a chronic infection of the liver. It is most usually associated with the exchange of infected blood. Sharing needles, straws, and unprotected sex leaves you vulnerable to the disease. Find out more.
- Addiction and HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
HIV is spread through the transmission of bodily fluids. Left untreated, it will develop into AIDS. There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, but a healthy lifestyle and appropriate treatment prolong the lifespan of sufferers for decades.
- Addiction, Heart Disease, and Stroke
There is a direct link between addiction, heart disease and stroke. Drugs make the heart work harder by placing it under enormous stress. Several drugs lead to cardiovascular distress.
- Addiction Treatment and Hepatitis C