Liver Repair: How to Physically Heal from Alcohol Abuse

How to Physically Heal from Alcohol Abuse

Can the Liver Repair Itself After Years of Drinking?

Depending on what stage you are in your alcoholism, you may have caused serious damage to your liver. You have heard the expression, “What’s done is done.” This is not always the case with your liver. Because it is a regenerative organ, physically healing your it from years of alcohol abuse is possible.

The liver is your body’s only regenerative organ. You are probably aware of the chameleon and how it can regrow its own tail. The liver works in very much the same way. It can rebuild itself. If you had 75 percent of your liver removed, it could grow back to its full size. This is good news when it comes to repairing your liver.

heavy drinking destroys the liver

When Alcoholics Get Sober, The Liver is Always a Concern

Focused on regaining physical health, many recovering alcoholics worry about their liver and go get a physical from the doc when they sober up. Rightfully so. It is no secret that alcohol completely destroys the liver. Responsible for cleansing toxins from the body, the liver works overtime to process beer, liquor, and wine.

Not surprisingly, many alcoholics in recovery learn they have damaged their liver or contracted some kind of liver disease during the course of their alcoholism. Frantic to get healthy so they can enjoy their newly found freedom in sobriety, many ask –can I heal my liver?

By abstaining from alcohol, drinking lots of water, and eating a liver-friendly diet, you can reverse some of the effects of alcohol abuse. Yes, the good news is, the liver can repair itself after years of drinking.

What Does the Liver Do

What Does the Liver Do, Anyway?

To give you a brief lesson in biology, the liver is a large organ in the digestive system. It weighs about three pounds. Its number one function is to filter blood coming from your digestive tract before that blood flows to the rest of your body.

The liver works to detoxify chemicals that pass through the body. It metabolizes drugs and alcohol. It also secretes an enzyme called bile, which aids the body in digestion. Additionally, the liver produces protein, which is vital to the clotting of your blood.

When this organ is not healthy, your body can not function properly. It is essential to your health and well-being. When your liver does not effectively rid the body of toxins and assist with the process of digestion, a host of really nasty health problems inevitably come about.  

liver and heavy drinking

When You Abuse Alcohol, the Liver Takes a Beating

Many alcoholics consume large quantities of alcohol for decades and then make the courageous decision to get sober. By then, their liver has sustained years of abuse and has become ill due to the effects of the alcohol.

Most chronic alcoholics have been told just how dangerous alcohol is to the liver at some point during their abuse of alcohol. Nevertheless, alcoholism doesn’t allow the alcoholic to care and the drinking continues. Sadly, the liver sustains a beating and becomes damaged. After years of processing mass quantities of alcohol, it no longer functions properly.

Before we learn about healing the liver from alcohol abuse, let’s take a moment to learn more about some of the most common liver diseases caused by alcoholism – cirrhosis, fatty liver, and Hepatitis C. All three of these conditions can be diagnosed with a blood test.

the effects of heavy drinking

Cirrhosis of the Liver – The Number One Offender

Chances are, if you’ve been abusing alcohol long enough, you’ve been warned about cirrhosis of the liver. This is one of the most commonly diagnosed alcohol-related liver diseases and the most serious. Cirrhosis develops when scar tissue replaces normal, healthy liver tissue. The scar tissue hardens the liver and makes it unable to function properly. This leads to severe complications.

Cirrhosis always shows up as the result of another liver-related disorder. This might be alcohol-related liver cancer, Hepatitis, or fatty liver. Cirrhosis is irreversible, but progression of the condition can be slowed tremendously by following some of the suggestions offered later in this article about how to heal your liver.    

Years of Alcohol Abuse Could Result in Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty liver (also called “hepatic steatosis”) is a common liver disease. As the name implies, this condition develops when too much fat builds up in the liver. When the organ stores five to ten percent of its weight in fat, it is considered a fatty liver.

Fatty liver affects up to twenty percent of the U.S. population, mostly targeting people between the ages of 40 and 60. Although many nondrinkers develop the condition, the most common cause for fatty liver is alcoholism. Alcohol addiction wrecks the liver. Years of alcohol abuse will almost always result in a fatty liver.

Hepatitis C – Death to the Liver

Many alcoholics contract Hepatitis C. This condition attacks the liver and breaks it down slowly over time. Essentially, it causes the body to poison itself. It’s a horrible illness.

For decades, Hep C was a death sentence. If you were lucky enough to have insurance, you could prolong your life and avoid the agonizing death it promised…. for awhile. You could stay comfortable with medication and treatment. But, in the end, it got you.

Thankfully, there have been incredible developments made in the medical community for treating this degenerative liver disease. Modern medicine has finally found a cure for Hepatitis C and there is hope for remission for people with this illness.  Now, there are drugs like Harvoni that can actually cure Hep C and reverse its effects.

Healing the Liver

Healing the Liver from Cirrhosis, Fatty Liver, Hep C, and Other Liver Diseases

When talking about the liver’s ability to heal itself, people are always in a big hurry to know how long it will take. This is understandable, of course, but, it is a difficult – if not impossible – question to answer this question.

Everybody’s body is different. The progression and type of liver disease, a person’s age, weight, and overall health are all contributing factors when it comes to how long it takes the liver to repair itself from an alcohol-related liver disease.

The liver is constantly in a state of regeneration. The moment it stops processing alcohol, it begins the process of healing itself. This process could take as few as four weeks or as long as several years. It really all depends on the health of the individual person.

This might seem like a frustrating answer, but it’s an honest one. To be sure, you cannot heal your liver overnight. You have to implement some new health practices over time and work with your doctor to measure your liver enzymes to measure the upward progression of your liver’s health.

repairing the liver

How to Repair Your Liver Naturally – Drink Water

Taking steps in recovery is about more than working the 12 Steps. It’s about taking steps to heal your physical body from the damage caused by your alcoholism. Want to heal your liver naturally? Drink lots and lots (and lots) of water.

Seriously, the very best thing you can do for your liver is flush it with pure, clean, unadulterated water. This does not mean iced tea. This does not mean juice. We fool ourselves into believing we are drinking plenty of water because we drink things with water in it. We need to be drinking water. Just water. Lots of it.

Enough cannot be said about the benefits of drinking water. Water cleanses the system of toxins. As you know, the liver is responsible for the flushing of toxins. Water aids the liver with this process. It hydrates your body and keeps your brain firing on all cylinders. It helps you stay alert, productive, and in a balanced mood. Water is just awesome!

Switching to water has to be a conscious decision. If you want to improve the health of your liver, you need to drink water.

A Liver-Friendly Diet is Vital to Healing Your Liver

In order to aid your liver in the healing process, you need to be on the right diet. Eating the right foods is essential when it comes to repairing your liver. Equally important? Staying away from the wrong ones.

Here is a quick list of do’s and don’t’s when it comes to a liver-friendly diet:

Do:

  • Eat lots of veggies (broccoli, carrots, and green leafy vegetables especially)
  • Eat acidic fruits like grapefruit, lemons, and oranges
  • Drink coffee. Yes, coffee is good for your liver…. Yay!
  • Maintain a plant-based diet as much as possible
  • Eat foods high in Omega-3, like fish, nuts, and healthy oils
  • Eat foods high in fiber like oatmeal

Don’t:

  • Eat foods high in fat or loaded with grease
  • Eat a lot of processed sugar
  • Drink soda
  • Consume a lot of fatty animal proteins (sorry, this means steak!)
  • Drink alcohol

Another thing to keep in mind as you focus on repairing your liver from alcohol abuse is maintaining a healthy weight. When you eat the right diet, this comes with the territory. Want to spice things up in the kitchen and cook up a good meal for your liver? Get some liver-friendly recipes.

To Heal Your Liver, You Must Stop Drinking Alcohol

Simply put, there is no way to heal your liver if you are still drinking alcohol. As long as you are consuming wine, beer, or liquor, you are continuing to damage your liver. There is just no way around it. If you want to regain physical health, you must make the decision and subsequent commitment to abstain from alcohol. No matter what.

If you have a problem with alcohol, help is available. You may need to go a detox to safely withdraw from alcohol. You might need to stay at an inpatient facility and get professional addiction treatment services. Or, you may be able to find freedom from your alcoholism at Alcoholics Anonymous.

Whichever path you choose, if you want to help your liver, please make the decision today to get the help you need to stop drinking alcohol.  

The Good and Bad News When It Comes to Healing Your Liver

The liver is quite magical really. We destroy it with drunken binges. Then, we get our act together and make better choices, and shazam! We can bring healing to our poor, tired, overworked liver.

That being said, please keep in mind that some liver damage is irreversible. Many people wait until it is too late before they focus on repairing their liver. Long-term effects of drug and alcohol abuse, liver diseases, and untreated conditions like Hepatitis C can leave our liver in a perpetually damaged state.

This does not mean you cannot start making better choices today and live a long and healthy life…. even if your liver is a little under the weather. Doing the next right thing in terms of taking care of your physical body goes a long way when it comes to health and wellness.

Yes, your liver can heal itself….. but you are going to have to help.

Remember, to help repair your liver from years of drinking alcohol, follow the three simple suggestions offered in this article. drink water, don’t drink alcohol, and eat a liver-friendly diet.

Do you have experience with healing your own liver? What health tips can you share?

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Liver Repair how to Physically Heal from Alcohol Abuse Info

October 19th, 2017|43 Comments

43 Comments

  1. Blacky March 26, 2018 at 2:11 pm - Reply

    Very informative and positive article.

    Thanks!

  2. Jim June 4, 2018 at 8:36 pm - Reply

    Scared here , I have raised liver enzmiems 124 and was just sent for an ultrasound where music called two weeks after the ultrasound to give me the results ( actually had his nurse call me ) to say that I have a fatty liver. Beside that everything else is fine . They were very matter of fact. I am frustrated because I know I need to get my health together and drop drinking. I made an appt to see my doc but I may change my family doc now since I am not pleased with how they are handling this and I an a wreak

    • Ashwood Recovery June 15, 2018 at 5:00 pm - Reply

      So glad that this article resonated with you. Wishing you the best as you work on your health.

  3. Daryl June 16, 2018 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    Gave a blood sample last Wed 13/6/18 was told results would be back following Wed 1 week
    Received letter today 16/6/18 letter dated the day after I gave blood sample asking me to get an appointment at doc to discuss blood test
    Gave up drinking a month ago worried about how Kwik they have asked me to make an appointment what do you think

    • Ashwood Recovery July 26, 2018 at 4:08 am - Reply

      Wishing you the best!

  4. Leon mccrae June 19, 2018 at 4:35 am - Reply

    Thank you for the information.

    • Ashwood Recovery July 26, 2018 at 4:07 am - Reply

      So glad that this article resonated with you.

  5. Drew June 21, 2018 at 5:12 am - Reply

    To anyone reading this: I drank until I bled out internally. Blood replaced twice from bursting varices, parecentesis, life support 4 days. Woke up with horrible HE. ALL of it. End stage liver disease meld score 32. I kicked the vodka, put in the emotional and physical work, went to meetings, changed my diet. It’s been 15.months and I am a new person. Life is so much better. My liver is damaged, I have cirrohsis amd I still have some symptoms but I can live with it. My meld is 9 now, no transplant. Whomever is reading this and is worried, do whatever it takes, no matter what, and it will slowly get easier. I couldnt go 1 hr in any day without a drink. It’s possible. Yea for you too. Put in the work and you will be rewarded. God bless

    • Ashwood Recovery July 26, 2018 at 4:04 am - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your story! Wishing you the best as you continue your sober journey!

    • Shae July 30, 2018 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      God bless you and thank you for sharing… I’m 5 mos sober after drinking daily for 15yrs…i fell like a new person with a new life… the program definately is working for me…. stay strong and fighting the good fight, my friend!!!!

    • Kyle September 1, 2018 at 6:08 pm - Reply

      I had the exact thing happen to me, it has been 4 years now

    • Sonja Casaldi September 10, 2018 at 3:32 pm - Reply

      Oh my goodness I am so glad to be reading this….It gives me hope..I dont even know my Meld score yet but the doc thinks Im in end stage liver disease and I have been scared to death now for a week….I am making some drastic changes but I thought it was still too late….this gave me some hope…Thank you for sharing

      • Ashwood Recovery September 16, 2018 at 4:27 pm - Reply

        So glad that this article resonated with you. Wishing you the best as you continue on your recovery journey!

    • Pmc October 4, 2018 at 4:09 am - Reply

      Do you recommend any special supplements or foods?

    • Sandy October 9, 2018 at 3:50 am - Reply

      Thank you, Drew! You give me hope that my liver will heal itself. Today is day 1 for no alcohol. So far so good. I’m not craving a drink at all. I have a little nausea and a slight headache. No shaking – – hopefully tomorrow won’t show more symptoms. God Bless
      you all!.

  6. Michelle June 23, 2018 at 1:07 am - Reply

    Long time drinker here , it us to be as soon as the clock reached 12:00 I had to start drinking ( vodka) then a couple years go by then I made a decision to after 5 :00 then to were before bed to help me sleep and then I quit the vodka, rum and now to wine for a couple months now with the help with menatolen .. I’ve worked my way down and I really do need to take care of my self for my family …thank you for the ad and this helped me to start to work on my health and were to start,,, thank you for that ounce of kindness and understanding

    • Ashwood Recovery July 26, 2018 at 3:59 am - Reply

      Wishing you the best on your journey!

  7. Theresa jack July 7, 2018 at 3:01 am - Reply

    I was diagnosed with end stage liver disease may 24 2016. I was told the amount of ammonia in my brain which was at 224 I was a day away from expiring, so they flew me to another bigger hospital which I know now as a hospice last day alive hospital. I looked like I was pregnant with 5 babies and yellow as the sun. I was given 19 banana bags full of vitamins cuz I was dehydrated like a cactus in Arizona. I stayed in the hospital for almost a month recovering. Now 2 yrs later I’m alive because I decided to get sober. I stopped cold turkey with no addictions and no suffering. During those 2 yrs I’ve drank pickle juice as a remedy for salt and hydration, believe me Now I’m happy I chose to stop because I made it to owning my own car a job I had for two years and I got my youth back. I feel good and glad that I got a second chance. I was scared cuz I knew I was dying now I’m full of life and living it sober

    • Ashwood Recovery July 26, 2018 at 3:51 am - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your personal story. Wishing you the best as you continue your sober journey!

  8. Laarni Lim August 4, 2018 at 4:01 pm - Reply

    Had been dringking almost ten years. Hard drinks. 2 months ago i had always have these persistent allergies. Last night i had weird stomach pains. I really hope i can stop drinking. I havent seen my doctor yet.
    My dad died of liver cancer two years ago

    • Ashwood Recovery September 8, 2018 at 6:30 pm - Reply

      Thank you for sharing your story! You can stop if it something you want to do! If you need help stopping alcohol we can help you https://www.ashwoodrecovery.com/contact-us.php

    • Patrick Brouwer September 20, 2018 at 10:22 pm - Reply

      Curious of your progress. My family drinks daily so i followed suit. Weird allergies and now right abdo pain qith right shoulder ache.

  9. Jenn August 13, 2018 at 5:01 am - Reply

    Almost 6 months sober. It seems like an entire new life. I had some liver damage at the time I quit, now going back for follow up testing. I have high hopes, but am still a little worried.

    Today, I had bad cravings, which is rare for me. I didn’t drink….though I stared at the bottle on the shelf. Your blog helped me with a little inspiration from the other posters. Thanks!

    • Ashwood Recovery September 8, 2018 at 6:23 pm - Reply

      So glad that this article resonated with you. Great job on resisting the temptation! Wishing you the best as you continue your sobriety!

  10. Laura August 25, 2018 at 1:53 am - Reply

    Feeling pain in my right lower rib area. Im sure it is liver problems. Ive cut back to 2 nights a week of drinking, but after reding this Im gonna stop. Might not be for ever, but I will make sure to put my health first.
    Thank you all for your above comments. I really heard all of you, loud and clear

    • Ashwood Recovery September 8, 2018 at 6:05 pm - Reply

      So glad that this article resonated with you. Best of luck on your sober journey!

  11. Cj August 27, 2018 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    I started feeling sickly like just weird, I looked like hell, my legs and feet would swell and then go down so would my abdominal section I decided to go to the hosp where they pumped me full of IV fluids, but all that did was make me swell all over, they put me in a dounut shaped thing to take pics of my abdominal section which I was then told was full of ascities, they said I had internal bleeding too, they wanted to do a blood transfusion I said no to that, I went home and quit drinking right then havent touched a drop since.
    I was swelled up for many months after that and had to keep getting drained which I did, I was put on iron pills and water pills, FINALLY I stopped swelling up because I started on a all protein diet and I bought Super Albumin tabs which I still take now, they work to stop your ascities.
    I am now back to weight lifting an jogging again like I used to do before I became a heavy beer drinker and I feel great again !! So do your own research on liver probs because had I not done that I wouldnt be as well as I am now, thats how I found out that having low albumin levels will give you ascities, so you have to switch to a high protein diet to get your liver to start making albumin again and the super albumin supplement will also help with that, one you get that under control your ascities will go away and only then can your liver begin to heal itself. The docs wont tell you all this stuff but I wil beause I lived it. And for Gods sake never drink again once you get back to normal,

    • Ashwood Recovery September 8, 2018 at 6:02 pm - Reply

      Thanks so much for this insightful information. Best of luck as you continue on your sober journey!

  12. ks September 11, 2018 at 12:10 am - Reply

    my brother just died of this at 62, he had quit drinking but perhaps not soon enough or he did not cleanse his diet. It is sad Glad some of you pulled through to have another chance

    • Ashwood Recovery September 16, 2018 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      Sorry to hear about your loss. Wishing you and your family the best.

  13. Veritas September 14, 2018 at 11:08 am - Reply

    Drank daily for 25 years, towards the end of this decades long binge I was drinking from the minute I woke up til the minute I went to sleep. Problem was I only slept 2-3 hours a day so that’s a lot of drinking. I am very athletic and have a high pain tolerance so I never felt any pain but one day I stared having tremors, they got so bad I had to hold a drink with two hands. Finally the drinking ended when I collapsed in seizures. I bit my tongue so hard and also gave myself a concussion from falling so hard. I was in intensive care for 5 days at 2 different hospitals. Woke up finally at the second hospital two all sorts of tubes and wires coming out of me. Never saw it coming. I was always very fit. Ran or walked 7 miles a day, lifted weights anything to stay fit so I thought I was safe. The weirdest thing about sobering up is now my balance and coordination is worse, I have to re learn everything. That and now I have to face my own mortality rather than laugh at it.

    • Ashwood Recovery September 16, 2018 at 4:17 pm - Reply

      Wishing you the best as you continue on your recovery journey!

  14. Lynn Pafford September 30, 2018 at 4:43 am - Reply

    I just found out I have liver disease. And the funny thing about it all is I don’t drink. I have a hard time getting comfortable day and night cause I feel like I’m 9 months pregnant. Also everytime I stand I have to a go to the bathroom. I have a dr’s appointment on the 2nd. And will find out what stage I’m at. I will fight to get better

    • Ashwood Recovery October 16, 2018 at 3:18 am - Reply

      We hope that things are well for you. Best wishes!

  15. jamie October 3, 2018 at 2:28 am - Reply

    this is good news im changing my life thank you

    • Ashwood Recovery October 16, 2018 at 3:11 am - Reply

      Thank you, Jamie, for working on changing your life today for a healthy tomorrow!

  16. Susie October 6, 2018 at 4:51 pm - Reply

    I have drank daily for about 20 years or more, my father was an alcoholic, died of heart failure at 70. I was diagnosed with stage 2 liver disease. I am on Ursodiol 2ce a day and vitamin E. My drinking is off and on. I can stop for weeks and then start up for weeks befor I stop again. I worry a lot about it but not enough to stop completely. I have a cyst on my liver that is slowly growing.. I pray for the strength to stop completely. I love my family. I know it’s hard but so worth it, pray for me…

    • Ashwood Recovery October 16, 2018 at 2:59 am - Reply

      Stay focused on your family, and stay focused on yourself! Best wishes!

  17. Monica L Hurst October 14, 2018 at 1:20 am - Reply

    I just found out my liver enzymes are elevated Im 47 I do not drink I am diabetic Im worried I go back for blood work in 4 weeks

    • Ashwood Recovery October 16, 2018 at 2:45 am - Reply

      Stay strong, Monica! Best wishes.

  18. erik villanueva October 15, 2018 at 3:29 am - Reply

    wow thank you all for sharing i been getting lower right rib pain and i been drinking for 10 years i quit a few weeks ago hope i can get out of this one

    • Ashwood Recovery October 16, 2018 at 2:41 am - Reply

      Opening up and joining the discussion is greatly appreciated. Wishing you a solid recovery!

    • Ashwood Recovery October 16, 2018 at 2:44 am - Reply

      Joining the discussion is greatly appreciated. Wishing you a solid recovery!

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