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ALCOHOL FAQS

How long does it take your liver to start to recover once you have stopped drinking alcohol?

The liver is filtering the blood that is filled with alcohol and will break down around 80 to 90% of the alcohol with the help of certain enzymes produced within the liver. The alcohol is broken down into water, carbon dioxide, and products the body can use for energy, which is not much. However, the liver can only break down alcohol at an average of one standard drink per hour. The kidneys during all of this balance the amount of fluid in the body, and alcohol makes the kidneys work harder. The kidneys produce more urine when someone is drinking, and only 10% of alcohol leaves the body in the urine. The liver can only produce so many of the enzymes at one time to break down the alcohol. While new enzymes are being produced, the remaining alcohol stays in the body, waiting to be filtered out through the liver.

Alcohol does not work the same on everyone, but many health experts say it takes around 6 to 12 months after drinking to know if the liver can repair itself. Clinical research suggests that the liver is the only organ in the body able to regenerate and replace damaged tissue. However, factors such as how long the person has been drinking, how much, and other drugs contribute to the length of time needed for the liver to repair itself. Each individual is entirely different, it could 5 to 10 years or 20 to 30 years, but the development of scar tissue within the liver makes the healing process difficult to impossible. Once the scar tissue has developed from alcohol passing through the liver, it is tough to reverse the process.

Roughly 90% of the metabolism of alcohol is happening within the liver, and the liver can only break down a certain amount of alcohol per hour. The extra alcohol can destroy or change your liver cells, and fat can collect in your liver, there is inflammation, and permanent scarring. Anyone who drinks alcohol regularly or heavily can damage their liver. The damage can be mild or severe; for example, fatty liver can be reversed if a person stops drinking alcohol. When there is no alcohol in your blood for several months, the liver cells can return to normal. Severe liver damage such as hepatitis or cirrhosis, can not necessarily be reversed. Once the severe liver disease starts, it can continue to cause liver damage.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment and Family Intervention

Severe alcoholism causes long-term damage physically and mentally, yet the body does recover when the person stops drinking and receives treatment. However, the process of getting a person out of addiction into a treatment center is not always easy. Depending on the medical state of the individual who needs help, there are certain steps to take. Initially, an addiction assessment is an excellent place to begin, even if the alcoholic is not willing to accept help, the family will benefit from this. The purpose of an addiction assessment is to determine the extent of the addiction and what treatment is the most practical.

An assessment could be done over the phone or in-person, and it will help the family know what detox services are available to them, followed by treatment. Severe alcohol addiction would require a medically supervised detox, especially if the person drinking is experiencing liver problems. Medical supervision during detox ensures the individual can manage the withdrawal symptoms without any health complications. Typically, during medical, medications are used to help manage the withdrawal cravings and symptoms.

Detox is a different length of time for each person, and the severity of the addiction determines the length of detox needed. Some alcoholics will only need a conventional detox if their withdrawal symptoms are not that severe. However, before this first step with treatment happens, the family must get their loved one convinced, they need help. Family intervention is the ideal approach, and the best way to organize a family intervention is by hiring a professional interventionist. Certified intervention groups operate across the country performing interventions and helping families.

Interventions are successful because they help the family take control and overcome the barrier that has been preventing them from getting their loved one to treatment. Family interventionists are trained to counsel families through this difficult time and continue to work with them while the drug-addicted person is in treatment. Once the intervention is complete and successful, the interventionist escorts the drug-addicted person to treatment.

Typically for alcohol addiction, the best method of treatment is with a residential rehabilitation program. Long-term residential treatment provides extensive resources and amenities to help alcoholics. Usually, these programs last three to six months or more, but this depends on the facility and what is provided. Short-term residential treatment is brief but intensive and usually lasts three to six weeks. When deciding on rehabilitation for alcohol addiction, the program must provide a well-rounded treatment approach. Recovering alcoholics also requires aftercare such as peer support, 12-step meetings, sober living homes, and or remaining connected to other sober people in a different way. Any alcohol addiction can be beaten with the right help and initiative taken by family and friends.

Works Cited
https://www.uhn.ca/PatientsFamilies/Health_Information/Health_Topics/Documents/Alcohol_and_the_Liver.pdf

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