Treating alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) – There’s currently no specific medical treatment for ARLD. The main treatment is to stop drinking, preferably for the rest of your life. This reduces the risk of further damage to your liver and gives it the best chance of recovering.
- If a person is dependent on alcohol, stopping drinking can be very difficult.
- But support, advice and medical treatment may be available through local alcohol addiction support services,
- A liver transplant may be required in severe cases where the liver has stopped functioning and does not improve when you stop drinking alcohol.
You’ll only be considered for a liver transplant if you have developed complications of cirrhosis despite having stopped drinking. All liver transplant units require people with ARLD to not drink alcohol while awaiting the transplant, and for the rest of their life.
Can your body repair itself from alcohol?
Introduction – A vast body of evidence from human studies and animal research clearly indicates that chronic, heavy alcohol consumption causes structural damage and/or disrupts normal organ function in virtually every tissue of the body. In heavy consumers of alcohol, the liver is especially susceptible to alcohol-induced injury.1,2 Additionally, several other organs—including the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, pancreas, heart, and bone—exhibit impaired function after chronic ethanol use.3 As the largest internal organ and the first to see blood-borne nutrients, toxins, and xenobiotics absorbed from the GI tract, the liver is especially vulnerable to alcohol-induced damage.
The liver plays a key role in the body’s metabolic regulation and is a “frontline” organ that rapidly metabolizes (i.e., chemically converts or oxidizes) alcohol to less harmful substances. However, acetaldehyde, the first metabolite generated by alcohol oxidation is actually more toxic than alcohol, but acetaldehyde is rapidly converted to acetate for use in other biochemical reactions in the body.3 Thus, although the liver has the capacity to eliminate toxic substances, continual excessive alcohol consumption can seriously damage the liver and other organs.
Recent studies report that alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) is one of the leading preventable causes of illness and death from liver disease in the United States and the world.4 After drinking stops, damaged organs may regain partial function or even heal completely, depending on the extent of organ damage and whether there is relapse (i.e., resumption of drinking).
Organ damage due to heavy drinking is greatest in the liver, in part because the liver has higher levels of enzymes that catalyze the metabolism of acetaldehyde from alcohol. Acetaldehyde is more toxic than ethanol because it is highly reactive and binds to biomolecules (e.g., proteins, lipids, nucleic acids) and disrupts their function.3,5 However, even after years of chronic alcohol use, the liver has remarkable regenerative capacity and, after sustained cessation of drinking, can recover a significant amount of its original mass.6 This review examines injury to selected organs and tissues from chronic alcohol use and their “natural recovery” after drinking ceases.
Data have been obtained from both human studies and studies with experimental animal models of alcohol administration. The main points of emphasis will be how ethanol, the active ingredient and principal component in alcoholic beverages, affects the liver, GI tract, pancreas, heart, and bone.
This review describes how (or whether) each organ/tissue metabolizes ethanol, as this property is closely related to the organ’s degree of injury. The damage sustained by the organ/tissue is then described, and the evidence for natural recovery after drinking cessation is reviewed. It is important to emphasize that “natural recovery” is that which is unaided by external agents that directly enhance healing of the damaged organ or tissue.
In the case of the liver, such agents include drugs or other compounds that suppress inflammation or dietary or medicinal compounds (e.g., betaine, caffeine, aspirin), which alleviate tissue damage by enhancing protective pathways, thereby preventing further damage.
Does damage reverse if you stop drinking?
Home Blog How long does brain recovery take after alcohol abuse?
Studies into the effects of alcohol on the brain have shown that the brain is able to repair itself remarkably quickly after stopping drinking. Research indicates that the impact on the brain’s grey matter, which shrinks from alcohol abuse, begins reversing within two weeks when chronic alcohol abusers become abstinent.
Shrinkage of brain matter, and an accompanying increase of cerebrospinal fluid, which acts as a cushion or buffer for the brain, are well-known degradations caused by alcohol abuse,” explained Gabriele Ende, professor of medical physics in the Department of Neuroimaging at the Central Institute of Mental Health.
“This volume loss has previously been associated with neuropsychological deficits such as memory loss, concentration deficits, and increased impulsivity.” The shrinking of any portion of the brain is worrying, but the damage done by alcohol is especially concerning because some of the shrinkage is probably due to cell death.
Once brain cells die, the effect of the brain damage is permanent. Thankfully, some of the changes in the alcoholic brain are due to cells simply changing size in the brain. Once an alcoholic has stopped drinking, these cells return to their normal volume, showing that some alcohol-related brain damage is reversible.
“We found evidence for a rather rapid recovery of the brain from alcohol induced volume loss within the initial 14 days of abstinence,” said Ende. “Although brain shrinkage, as well as a partial recovery with continued abstinence have been elaborately described in previous studies, no previous study has looked at the brain immediately at the onset of alcohol withdrawal and short term alcohol recovery.
- Our study corroborates previous findings of brain volume reduction for certain brain regions.” The alcohol recovery timeline can be fairly short in certain areas.
- While different areas of the brain recover at different rates, the initial findings of the study show that much of the lost functionality in the brain returns quickly.
“The function of the cerebellum is motor co-ordination and fine tuning of motor skills,” Ende explained. “Even though we did not assess the amelioration of motor deficits in our patients quantitatively, it is striking that there is an obvious improvement of motor skills soon after cessation of drinking, which is paralleled by our observation of a rapid volume recovery of the cerebellum.
Higher cognitive functions, such as divided attention, which are processed in specific cortical areas, take a longer time to recover and this seems to be mirrored in the observed slower recovery of brain volumes of these areas.” These findings may drastically alter how many alcohol recovery centres work.
Currently, alcohol abuse treatment often only covers the first phase of detox. This lasts between a few days to a week. However, for those struggling with addiction, life after alcohol requires an ongoing commitment to maintain sobriety and a healthier way of life.
In the short term, treatment can quickly help to address other effects of alcohol in the brain, such as alcohol brain fog. This refers to issues such as difficulty concentrating, confusion and an inability to think clearly. The new research shows that it takes at least two weeks for the brain to start returning to normal, so this is the point at which the alcohol recovery timeline begins.
Until the brain has recovered, it is less able to suppress the urge to drink. This is because the alcohol has impaired the brain’s cognitive ability. Ende and her colleagues now believe that any proper alcohol abuse treatment should last for a minimum of two weeks.
Does alcohol have permanent damage?
The Impact Of Alcohol-Related Brain Damage – Overall, alcohol is linked to over 200 diseases, conditions, and injuries. In 2010, alcohol abuse was responsible for 2.8% of all deaths in the US. While it can take years of heavy drinking for diseases like alcohol-related brain damage to appear, negative effects on the brain materialize after only a few drinks.
As an individual consumes alcohol, he or she will begin to feel the depressant effects it has on the brain. As the body’s control center, the impairing effects of alcohol quickly impede the normal function of areas all over the body. Short-term symptoms indicating reduced brain function include difficulty walking, blurred vision, slowed reaction time, and compromised memory.
Heavy drinking and binge drinking can result in permanent damage to the brain and nervous system.
How many years do you have to drink to cause damage?
INTRODUCTION – Alcohol is a most frequent cause of liver disease in western countries. Mortality due to liver cirrhosis in those countries is in direct proportion to absolute alcohol consumption per capita-the highest in France and Spain (over 30 deaths per a population of 100 000 per year), the lowest in the northern European countries (up to 5 deaths per 100 000 inhabitants per year). Mortality from cirrhosis in Czech Republic. In what is an alarming development, alcohol abuse also afflicts societies and nations without any “drinking tradition”, such as in Asia. For example, in a cross-sectional study of two rural communities in China (in which almost 10 000 inhabitants were interviewed for current and lifetime alcohol use), the age-standardized prevalence of lifetime alcohol dependence ranged from 4.8% to 11.8% in different regions.
Unlike most western reports, alcohol dependence shows a higher prevalence than the abuse itself. Coincidence with HIV infection is another attribute of alcohol abuse. This was described in India for example, where the recent increase in alcohol consumption in many sectors of the general population is coupled with strong evidence of the role of alcohol in the spread of HIV infection and other health risks.
An even more critical situation appears to have developed in Africa. Pithey et al performed a systematic review of sub-Saharan African studies concerning the association between alcohol abuse and HIV infection. Their findings strongly support an association between the two factors.
A Fisher et al study of high-risk African women showed, even after adjustment for demographic and employment variables, that drinkers were more likely to be HIV positive than non-drinkers (relative risk 2.1). Problem drinkers were also more likely to have engaged in several types of high-risk sexual behavior and to have other sexually transmitted infections, including HSV-2.
Many studies have shown that the amount of undiluted (“pure”) alcohol consumed and the duration of that consumption are closely related to cirrhosis. According to some reports, cirrhosis does not develop below a lifetime alcohol consumption of 100 kg of undiluted alcohol.
- This amount corresponds to an average daily intake of 30 grams of undiluted alcohol for 10 years.
- Heavy alcoholics consuming at least 80 g of alcohol per day for more than 10 years will develop liver disease at a rate of nearly 100%.
- A detailed study of 256 heavy drinkers admitted to hospital not because of liver complaints, found steatosis at a rate of 45%, steatohepatitis at 34%, steatohepatitis with cirrhosis at 10% and cirrhosis alone at 10% in their liver biopsies.
Formerly, 40-60 g of undiluted alcohol (i.e., 2-3 beers) per day used to be reported as a safe limit for men, less (20 g/d) for women. Data from the “Dionysos” study show, however, that consumption of more than 30 g of pure alcohol daily, regardless of sex, already increases the risk of liver disease.
For practical purposes, alcohol intake is rated by the count of “drinks”. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines a standard drink as 11-14 g of alcohol, which corresponds to approximately one drink of 40% spirit, one glass of wine or one 0.33 l (12-oz) beer. Hence, a “safe” daily intake of alcohol should not be more than two “drinks”.
On the contrary, moderate ethanol consumption (mainly wine) may mean a reduced cardiovascular risk, especially in women. Much the same applies to Asians. For example, in the Chinese population, the ethanol risk threshold for developing alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is 20 g per day with the risk increasing in proportion to the daily intake.
Those drinking 20 g of ethanol per day and for less than 5 years are safe from ALD. In this study of 1270 alcohol drinkers, obesity also increases the risk. Abstinence and weight reduction will directly improve the prognosis of ALD. As for liver injury, it has been postulated for many years that the type of alcoholic beverage makes little, if any difference.
Nevertheless, some authors have proposed that mortality from cirrhosis is associated with the consumption of spirits more strongly than with other alcoholic beverages. It is not clear whether this effect can be put down to the drinkers’ socio-behavioral characteristics or to increased toxicity of alcoholic beverages.
ALD may take the form of acute involvement (alcoholic hepatitis) or chronic liver disease (steatosis, steatohepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis). Their progression also depends on the pattern of alcohol intake-drinking alcohol at mealtimes results in a lower risk of liver disease than consumption at other times; fitful, intermittent drinking is more sparing for the liver than a continuous supply of alcohol.
Although ALD is a disease that displays an absolute requirement for a voluntary environmental exposure (the consumption of alcohol), many other factors, including genetic host system attributes, are involved in the ALD evolution and progression.
How long does it take for your liver to repair?
How Long For Liver To Recover From Alcohol – Individuals who occasionally binge drink on weekends can usually avoid toxic liver diseases when abstaining from alcohol for two weeks to a full month. Most expert guidelines suggest avoiding drinking alcohol for 30 days to help your liver restore to its normal function.
- After, it’s imperative to follow moderate drinking guidelines or, even more helpful, to continue abstaining from alcohol use.
- Severe drinking may require three months to a year to fully regenerate the liver to its original capacity and functionality.
- Over time, the liver can heal itself from damages caused by alcoholic fatty liver disease and hepatitis.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the scars of cirrhosis, these damages are irreversible. For this reason, it’s critical to treat alcohol abuse when symptoms of alcohol damage become apparent if not sooner. In some instances, liver transplants may be necessary.