- Written by Marcel Gemme C.C.D.C
Drug/Alcohol Abuse and Effects on Your Liver
When it comes to consuming excessive amounts of alcohol and abusing drugs, your liver suffers the most damage. The human liver is involved in different metabolic processes as well asstorage, plasma protein synthesis, hormone production and detoxification. Both alcohol and drugs pass through the liver for processing and breakdown and when there is an abnormally high amount of these substances, the liver finds it hard to process them. As a result, there would be an imbalance which damages the liver.
How Alcohol Abuse Damages the Liver
There are plenty of liver problems that are believed to have been caused by alcohol and drug abuse. These diseases include the following:
Fatty Liver Disease – characterized by an enlarged liver due to fat build-up. The good news is that this condition does not lead to a chronic liver disease as long as the heavy drinking stops. About 20 percent of heavy drinkers are found to have a fatty liver.
Alcoholic– About 35 percent of individuals who engage in excessive alcohol drinking are known to develop liver inflammation. Symptoms that indicate the presence of this disease include appetite loss, vomiting, nausea, jaundice, fever and abdominal tenderness. Inflammation can progress to serious liver damage and in severe cases, particularly for drinkers, it could be life-threatening.
Liver– probably, this is the most serious of all liver diseases caused by alcoholism. Normal tissues of the liver are replaced by scarred tissues compromising the organ’s function of cleaning and filtering blood supply. Normal blood flow is interrupted, resulting to build up of toxic substances and wastes. If you drink heavily for 10 years or more, you are at risk of developing cirrhosis. Symptoms of this liver condition are almost identical to alcoholic hepatitis. Unfortunately, this kind of liver damage cannot be reversed and considered to be life – threatening.
Based on studies, progression of liver damage starts with fatty liver then develops to alcoholic hepatitis before finally reaching alcoholic cirrhosis.
Other complications – after many years of alcohol abuse, a person could also suffer from infection (viral hepatitis type C), high blood pressure (liver) and liver cancer.
To diagnose these liver diseases, your doctor will run a series of tests that will usually include blood tests as well as other imaging tests like, ultrasound and CT scan. If needed, a liver biopsy can also be performed.
How Drug Abuse Can Damage the Liver
There are several drugs that can result in serious liver damage, including heroin, steroids and inhalants. Basically, the damage to the liver is a result of clogged blood vessels due to the additive found in these substances which cannot be dissolved by the organ. Furthermore, since many of these drugs are injected into the body, the risk for acquiring hepatitis B and C as well as HIV infection is inherently greater. Liver failure is also common due to over exposure to these drugs and only a liver transplant could prolong the life of the user.
If you stop and think about it, giving up alcohol and addictive drugs is something you should do now before these substances ruin the liver and other important organs of your body. There are support groups as well as medication that will provide you with what you need in order to treat alcohol addiction and drug addiction.