by Lea Hummel | Nov 14, 2020 | Alcohol Rehab
There are plenty of all-purpose facilities that help people get clean and sober. You may even be able to find a facility that specializes in the treatment of addiction to the specific drug you’re struggling with. In fact, that’s the type of clinic you want to find. The clinic doesn’t have to provide treatment for your specific addiction alone, of course, but it’s a good idea to go with drug treatment facilities that do have some specialized training with your particular drug of choice.
There are quite a few reasons why this is important. While some addiction-related issues are somewhat common to many different drugs, there are other factors—such as individual withdrawal syndromes—that are unique to specific drugs. Using outpatient drug rehab centers that focus on treating individuals for specific addictions rather than offering a one-treatment-fits-all-addictions policy is an ideal outlet for recovery.
Additionally, different substance use disorders and the often-long-term use of the specific substance that accompanies them can impact the mind and body in different ways. The staff needs experience in handling the physical, emotional and psychological aspects of the specific addiction you’re struggling to gain control of. Sometimes this takes very specialized training. Being well versed in treating the specific type of addiction you’re struggling is extremely helpful when it comes to conveying the recovery process to both you and your loved ones.
Levels of Outpatient Care
The 2 main settings for addiction treatment are inpatient and outpatient. Additionally, though, there are a few levels of treatment within those general settings. For example, outpatient rehab can range from a couple hours per week to several hours per day, depending on the specific program. The types of staff members vary according to the program as well. You’ll want to do your research before choosing an outpatient recovery program that best suits your needs. Common levels of outpatient care include:1,2
Standard outpatient: This is the least intensive setting and often involves 1-2 treatment sessions per week for 1-2 hours each. You’ll likely meet with a therapist in a clinic or office location.
Intensive outpatient programs (IOPs): These programs primarily consist of nonmedical staff members. Patients receive treatment about 3 times a week, for 2-3 hours per session. This is sometimes used as a step-down treatment for someone who has recently completed an inpatient program and wants ongoing support.
Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs): Also called “day treatment,” these programs are the most intensive of the outpatient programs. They employ a combination of non-medical and medical staff members. These programs meet 5-7 days per week for several hours at a time. Much like IOPs, PHPs are common forms of step-down care for those who have completed a residential rehab program.
If you are unsure of which program would be best for you, seek out a professional assessment from your therapist or physician. They can use the information gathered in the assessment to refer you to an outpatient program that is appropriate for you.
Contraindications to Outpatient
Outpatient isn’t right for everyone, which is why it’s so important that you receive a formal evaluation from a medical or mental health professional. They can make a qualified assessment of your patterns of substance abuse, mental health, physical health, social health, and withdrawal risk.1 They then use this information to determine a suitable level of addiction care for you. If a person has received professional detox services and is stable and drug-free, outpatient substance abuse treatment may be a beneficial and safe option. However, one of the major reasons someone shouldn’t necessarily enter outpatient treatment is that they are significantly physically dependent on alcohol or sedatives, like benzodiazepines, and haven’t already undergone medical detox. Withdrawal from alcohol and/or benzodiazepines can be fatal due to the potential for grand mal seizures. If a person is at risk for withdrawal complications, such as seizures, it could be vital that he or she enters a formal detox program with 24-hour support and access to medical care.1 Medical detox services can keep a person safe and comfortable while going through the withdrawal process.
If a person has undergone detox and achieved stability, there may still be a few reasons why they should consider inpatient rehab as opposed to outpatient. People who may benefit from inpatient include:1
Those with severe addictions.
Those with polydrug addictions.
Those with co-occurring mental health disorders.
Those with special medical considerations or concerns.
Those with a high risk of violence or suicide.
Those without reliable transportation to the facility.
Those without the ability to provide informed consent.
Those with low motivation or history of treatment noncompliance.
Once you and your doctor decide on an appropriate treatment level for you, you’ll want to take individual outpatient programs into consideration. Each one is different, varying in location, support, flexibility, amenities and services, and cost.
by Lea Hummel | Oct 18, 2020 | Alcohol Rehab
The term ‘relapse’ has negative implications to it, but the fact is that relapse is common in individuals who are on the road to recovery from alcohol addiction. Many people feel that when they relapse, it means they have failed. However, you should never give up. Keep trying to achieve a sober life. The key is to identify the triggers that can help prevent you from these occurrences in the future.
Realize That Relapse is Not the End of the Road
If you or one of your loved ones is in the recovery process from alcohol addiction, you need to understand that relapsing is very common. What does the term relapse mean? It means that you return to your previous state. If you had a period that was drug or alcohol-free, it means turning back to your old habits. These actions can be frustrating when you have had extended sobriety. It’s a fundamental feature of addiction that most people will relapse at least once. It is frustrating both for the addict and their family. However, it’s imperative to pick up the pieces and begin again.
Look at other examples throughout life. Many people try and try to get things they want, and they often fail. Think of an infant learning to take their first steps. They will stumble, fall, and pick themselves back up again. The same can be said of addiction. You will stumble, fall, but you should pick yourself up and start the process over. You are not going to be perfect, so do not put such expectations on yourself. It’s not about falling; it is about what you do after you fall that counts.
Finding Strength To Begin Again
You must remember that addiction is a disease. It’s never going to go away completely. You may control it for the duration of your life, but you must be actively involved in your sobriety. As a recovering addict, you and your family must understand that a relapse is not the end of the road. You must find the strength to pick up the pieces and start your life over again. Don’t get the mentality that you’ve fallen and there is no hope. You can beat this. Arm yourself with information so that when these times come, you will know what to do. Here are some things you can do to help when you relapse.
• Pursue Professional Help
Many resources are available to help you. Consider 12-step programs and someone who is familiar with an aftercare plan. Getting help after you relapse is of the utmost importance. You will have a better chance of quickly recovering once you stumble.
•Enter or Re-Enter A Treatment Program
Quickly getting help is the key to fighting addiction. The longer you allow this disease to control you, the harder it will be to recover. There are rehab centers with trained staff to help. They know what it takes to beat an addiction successfully, and they provide you with the support you need. You may need an extended treatment plan that gives you more than a couple of weeks of intense therapy. Your individual needs are accessed, and you are given an individualized plan for success.
•Go back to Your Relapse Prevention Plan
If you have been in rehab before, you will have an aftercare plan. This comprehensive plan is set in place to keep you from relapsing. Once you relapse, revisit the plan to make sure you are following it verbatim. You must do exactly as it says. Part of aftercare includes ongoing therapy and attending support group meetings. You will never be cured. Alas, you must continue the journey day by day.
Identify Your Triggers
You must learn to identify your triggers as a relapse does not come out of anywhere. You may feel those old cravings start creeping up again. Addressing these triggers will help you to avoid future relapse. It may take going through a setback to be able to pinpoint your triggers. What is a weak spot for one may not be for another person? For example, some people cannot hang out with friends when there will be drugs or alcohol present as the temptation is too high. For others, a life-changing event such as a major illness or the death of a loved one can push them over the edge.
Furthermore, it’s vital that you are accustomed to your boundaries. Get family and friends to help when you feel the intense cravings returning. Give them your cash, credit cards, and keys to the car. If you think relapse is imminent, then you need to do whatever you can to minimize the damages.
Know the Signs of a Relapse
Identifying the signs of relapse are vital to stop this backsliding before it occurs. Some common symptoms may include:
•Congregating with Old Friends Who Drink Alcohol or Take Drugs
•Disconnecting from your Support Network
•Having Access to Drugs or Alcohol
•Reminiscing about the Euphoria You Felt While Intoxicated
•Relationship Troubles or a Breakup
•Family Members Relapsing
•Boredom, No Schedule or Lacking Social Interaction with Others
•Not Dealing with your Problems
by Lea Hummel | Oct 2, 2020 | Alcohol Rehab
When you’re considering alcohol rehabilitation, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the choice you are making. The idea of rehab can be scary, especially if you’ve never gone to a treatment center before. It helps to have some idea of what to expect. The most important thing to remember is that you’re acknowledging that you have a problem, and a treatment center will help give you the tools to work on that problem. The ultimate goal of a treatment center is to help, not harm. These are the most commonly asked questions about alcoholism and medical detox:
How do you know if you’re an alcoholic?
There is a huge difference between drinking casually and being an alcoholic, but sometimes it’s hard to tell where the line is drawn. The media carries many stereotypes about alcoholism. Maybe you don’t fit the stereotypes, but you still think you might have a problem. How can you draw lines between casual drinking, problem drinking, and alcoholism?
The signs and symptoms of alcoholism will manifest differently in everyone. Here are some of the basic warning signals to watch out for:
You drink alone and secretly rather than socially
You experience mood swings, irritability, depression, and loss of interest in activities
You crave alcohol or drink immediately upon waking up (or both)
You are unable to control or stop your alcohol consumption
You feel guilty after or while drinking
When do you need medical detox?
Most experts concur that detoxing from alcohol at home isn’t a good idea. Bad cases of withdrawal can become life-threatening, and even mild withdrawal can cause extreme levels of discomfort. If you know that you’re an alcoholic, or you feel yourself beginning to experience alcohol withdrawal symptoms after you stop drinking, it’s a good idea to have your detox be medically supervised.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms include flu-like symptoms, mood swings, anxiety, clamminess, and delirium tremens in severe cases.
How long does detox last?
Most people begin to experience withdrawal symptoms from six to twelve hours following their last drink. However, in serious alcoholics, symptoms might set in as early as two hours following a drink.
The length of time that the withdrawal symptoms last will vary from case to case. The worst symptoms tend to reach their peak within one to three days after the last drink. Though they wane from there, they may persist in mild to moderate forms for weeks.
The length of detoxification depends on a number of factors:
How long and how often the person has been drinking
The person’s age and weight
Any co-occurring health issues like eating disorders or depression
Whether other substances were consumed with the alcohol
Frequently Asked Questions About Treatment Centers
Many people choose to participate in a rehabilitation program following their medical detox. These are the most commonly asked questions about rehabilitation facilities:
What can you bring to a treatment center?
Most rehab centers have lists of the items you should bring on their websites. They may also give you a list of items to pack before you enter your treatment center program. Items usually include clothing and toiletries. You won’t be able to bring anything containing alcohol, certain prescription medications, and other prohibited items. You also might not be able to bring your laptop or cell phone, as the center may like to keep the focus on the treatment center rather than outside influence.
How long do treatment center programs last?
Different programs will last for different periods of time. Outpatient programs involve seeing medical professionals without enrolling in a 24/7 program. A short-term inpatient program will usually last between two and four weeks. Long-term programs may last between three and six months, sometimes up to a year. A residential program involves semi-permanently living at the treatment center. You can talk to your family and your doctor about the type of treatment center program that’s right for you.
Will you have to go to a treatment center if you get a DUI?
If you’re convicted of a DUI, your conviction will generally include some form of the mandatory alcohol treatment center. However, DUI programs tend to be administered on an outpatient basis. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, enrolling in an inpatient treatment center program might reduce your charges or lessen your sentence.
Can you have visitors in a treatment center?
For the most part, the answer is yes. Friends and family are considered vital to the healing process. It’s important for you to see the people you love, as this has been proven to be both mentally healthy and motivating.
Most rehabilitation centers will offer family counseling and individual therapy for family members with alcohol problems. This kind of counseling accomplishes a number of things:
You can address and heal past hurts in a safe and controlled environment
You can identify environmental triggers and collaborate to create a safer home environment
You can set boundaries and affirm your familial relationships
Do treatment center centers also offer mental health help?
Yes. Alcoholism is a mental illness that often goes hand-in-hand with other mental illnesses. It’s common for people to use alcohol as a coping mechanism for depression, anxiety, other mood disorders, and personality disorders. Diagnosing these comorbid mental health conditions is important to your recovery. When you understand how your mental health interacts with your alcohol use, you can learn the coping mechanisms to prevent future relapses.
This is why rehab centers will offer individual therapy and group therapy. Many also offer art therapy classes, music therapy classes, and nature-based therapy. You need to treat the mental health condition, not just physical dependence.
by Lea Hummel | Jul 24, 2020 | Alcohol Rehab
Ethanol, otherwise known as alcohol, has been around since the dawn of time. At least as old as the fermented sugars it’s derived from are. Whether celebrating, mourning or just completely trying to mask your feelings to hide from life, alcohol has been an acceptable liquid to sip on since that dawn of time(minus a brief Prohibition hiccup in the early 1900s).
Booze provides this euphoria that allows us to forget our mortality for a few moments as we feel on top of the world. What’s not to like about that? Seems fun, but then take that fun beverage and put it in the hands of some of the best fun havers in the world. You know, the ones that abuse the fun to a point where it’s not anymore. What could go wrong? It might create hangovers- a “big deal”. It does cause complete loss of control too- “so what”. It’s also responsible for many drunk driving accidents and premature loss’ of life everywhere- “who cares, it’s not happening to me right now”. Alcohol in the possession of an alcoholic is gasoline to the fire. The flames will burn until everything is ash and the fire has extinguished itself own self from lack of oxygen. Only part of that statement is meant to be a metaphor too.
Alcoholics will guzzle alcohol down to the point where their entire being becomes dependent upon it. Our internal organs could potentially be shutting down from over-saturation, and still, all we’ll think about is knocking back more of that liquid courage. There’s never enough of it, and unfortunately, this is not an exaggeration either. The saying goes, “One is too many, and a thousand is never enough”. However, that’s just one end of the spectrum- the alcoholic end. What about those that only partake here and there? The ones that don’t aren’t inflicted with alcoholic thinking but still drink on occasion. Are their non-alcoholic drinking patterns still harmful? Is grandpa’s old cough medicine bad for everybody?
Harm From Non-Alcoholic Drinking Patterns
Whoever said that “a glass of red wine a day is healthy” was clearly only looking at antioxidant properties and not really at the big picture of things. Studies suggest that alcohol, when consumed at moderate levels, may have some health benefits. Still, there are many reasons why non-alcoholic drinking patterns are harmful to the average person.
When a person consumes alcohol beyond moderate levels, it can have damaging effects on the brain and body, temporarily and/or permanently. Some of those effects, like slurred speech or diminished memory, belong to the first option right there. Others like long-term cellular damage, or kidney issues won’t be gone the next day just from sleeping it off. These are some of the more permanent factors that even some non-alcoholic drinking patterns can manifest. A few other health problems that can occur from drinking too much alcohol might include:
Permanent Memory Loss
Cirrhosis of the Liver/Destruction of
Heart Disease/Circulatory System Complications
Too Much to Drink, Too Much to Think
New studies show alcohol consumption is connected to a heightened risk of a faster decline in mental health and function. The burn that the fermented beverage causes going down your gullet happens to also be slowly burning away gray matter upstairs.
When we end up disappearing from consciousness like in a blackout, many aspects of our brains are affected by this excessive drinking. Usually, these blackouts are due to alcohol blocking certain receptors in our brains while disrupting all sorts of communication between different parts of the mind. The same occurs with moderate non-alcoholic drinking patterns but just at a slower rate.
Mind Over Matter?
Whatever the occasion, we love the feeling of numbness that it provides; a distraction from reality. Most people don’t drink because alcohol tastes good and they prefer it to water. They drink to achieve a feeling or a loss of one. However, when something is liked too much, dependency can crawl out of any dark crevice- alcoholic or not. There is after all a difference between the user, the abuser, and the alcoholic. Anybody’s habits can unexpectedly turn into tolerance as they find themselves in a caucus race to stay ahead of their non-alcoholic drinking patterns. Nobody wakes up to proudly admit they’re an alcoholic; it was never the end game. Yet it happens, and 9 times out of 10 the alcoholic doesn’t understand how they got there.
At some point or another, we will try to justify our looney actions/thoughts of controlled drinking, depending on where we are on the spectrum. The list of rationalizations will roll in as we validate every reason we can for why our behaviorisms are non-alcoholic drinking patterns and not those of chemical dependency. But at the end of the day, what’s the difference between alcoholic thinking and always thinking about alcohol?
Such an abstract question provides only a theoretical answer that often depends solely on how much one is willing to observe themselves. Non-alcoholic drinking patterns can open up the floodgates for possibilities of misery down the road, or it can be a simple vice depending on the individual. Alcohol isn’t always a bad thing, it’s just often misused while being put into irresponsible hands. Then again, alcohol even eliminates rational inclination in even the wisest of souls. Drink at your own risk.
by Lea Hummel | Jun 25, 2020 | Alcohol Rehab
The condition is a primary cause of chronic liver disease in Western nations.
The liver is one of the most complex organs in the human body, with over 500 functions. These include filtering out blood toxins, storing energy, making hormones and proteins, and regulating cholesterol and blood sugar.
Liver damage can affect the whole body. Once damage begins, it can take a long time to become noticeable, as the liver is generally highly effective at regenerating and repairing itself. Often, by the time the damage is found, it is irreversible.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2014 the number of deaths from alcoholic liver disease in the United States was 19,388, while all causes of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis are estimated to lead to 12 fatalities per 100,000 people per year.
In 2015, in the United States, nearly 20 percent of all liver transplants occurred as a result of alcoholic liver disease, making it the third most common reason for transplant behind chronic hepatitis C and liver cancer.
This can help to reverse some early stages of liver disease. For example, stopping drinking once diagnosed with fatty liver disease may be able to reverse the condition within 2 to 6 weeks.
Once a person is diagnosed with alcoholic liver disease at any stage, it is recommended to never resume drinking. Any conditions that have reversed will typically return once drinking restarts.
As alcohol dependency can make it more difficult to quit drinking alcohol, it is necessary to gradually reduce alcohol intake.
Those who regularly drink more than the recommended daily limits of alcohol should not stop drinking without medical support. Withdrawal from alcohol can be life-threatening. Individuals should seek help from a medical professional to safely manage alcohol withdrawal.
The recommended daily limits are no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medications called benzodiazepines can be used to ease withdrawal symptoms in a person with alcohol dependency. People with severe alcohol dependency may stay at an inpatient rehabilitation facility for closer monitoring.
Ongoing therapy may then be required to prevent a relapse into drinking alcohol. Medications such as acamprosate, naltrexone, topiramate, baclofen, and disulfiram can also be used to help prevent relapse.
Weight loss and quitting smoking might also be recommended since being overweight and smoking have both demonstrated a role in making the alcoholic liver disease worse. Taking a daily multivitamin is usually recommended as well.
Here is a page for purchasing a range of daily multivitamins. This will take you to an external site.
Corticosteroids or pentoxifylline may be used for reducing inflammation in people with acute alcoholic hepatitis while they are being treated in a hospital.
Other medications that show potential for treatment and are currently being studied include:
probiotics and antibiotics
stem cell therapy
medicines that target the inflammation pathway
In people with liver failure, the liver completely ceases to function. This can be an outcome of advanced-stage liver disease and often means that a liver transplant is the only option for prolonged survival.
Typically, only people who can show at least six months of abstinence from alcohol before the procedure and those with other organ systems that are healthy enough to undergo surgery will be considered for a transplant.
A liver transplant is a complicated procedure that depends on a donor being available. Anti-rejection medications given after transplant can increase the risk of serious infections and certain cancers.
A liver transplant is a last resort. Quitting alcohol and treating this condition early on is the best way for a person to increase their chances of reversing or slowing the disease.
The life expectancy of a person with alcoholic liver disease reduces dramatically as the condition progresses.
On average, one out of three people with the most advanced stage of liver disease and cirrhosis are still alive after 2 years. When the body can compensate and manage cirrhosis, the typical lifespan is 6 to 12 years. Those with less severe disease will survive longer, as long as they maintain abstinence from alcohol.
Some stages of the condition can be reversed, and life expectancy can increase once a person stops drinking alcohol completely.
Not smoking, controlling body weight, and managing diabetes as well as any heart, kidney, or lung diseases are also important in lengthening and improving quality of life.
Alcoholic liver disease has four main stages.
Alcoholic fatty liver disease
Drinking a large volume of alcohol can cause fatty acids to collect in the liver. Sometimes, heavy drinking over a short period, even less than a week, can cause this. There are normally no symptoms, and this stage of the disease is often reversible if the individual abstains from alcohol from this point onward.
Continued alcohol use will lead to ongoing liver inflammation. This can occur after many years of heavy drinking. It can also occur acutely during periods of binge drinking. Hepatitis is a general term swelling and inflammation of the liver from any cause.
If the individual abstains from alcohol on a long-term basis, alcoholic hepatitis is usually reversible.
Fibrosis is a buildup of certain types of protein in the liver, including collagen. It features in most types of chronic liver disease. Mild-to-moderate forms of fibrosis may be reversible. Continuous fibrosis and inflammation can lead to liver cancer.
Cirrhosis occurs when the liver has been inflamed for a long time, leading to scarring and loss of function. This can be a life-threatening condition. Cirrhosis damage is irreversible, but the patient can prevent further damage by continuing to avoid alcohol.
Life-long abstinence can improve liver function, but the permanent and severe damage from cirrhosis might mean that the patient needs a liver transplant to survive.
As the liver no longer processes toxins properly, it will be more sensitive to medications and alcohol. Alcohol use speeds up the destruction of the liver, along with reducing the liver’s ability to compensate for the current damage.
by Lea Hummel | Jun 25, 2020 | Alcohol Rehab
Alcoholic liver disease occurs after years of heavy drinking. Over time, scarring and cirrhosis can occur. Cirrhosis is the final phase of alcoholic liver disease.
Alcoholic liver disease does not occur in all heavy drinkers. The chances of getting liver disease go up the longer you have been drinking and more alcohol you consume. You do not have to get drunk for the disease to happen.
The disease is common in people between 40 and 50 years of age. Men are more likely to have this problem. However, women may develop the disease after less exposure to alcohol than men. Some people may have an inherited risk for the disease.
Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to dangerous damage called alcoholic liver disease. Let’s talk today about alcoholic liver disease. Alcoholic liver disease usually occurs after years of drinking too much. The longer you’ve abused alcohol, and the more alcohol you’ve consumed, the greater likelihood you will develop liver disease. Alcohol may cause swelling and inflammation in your liver, or something called hepatitis. Over time, this can lead to scarring and cirrhosis of the liver, which is the final phase of alcoholic liver disease. The damage caused by cirrhosis is unfortunately irreversible. To determine if you have an alcoholic liver disease your doctor will probably test your blood, take a biopsy of the liver, and do a liver function test. You should also have other tests to rule out other diseases that could be causing your symptoms. Your symptoms may vary depending upon the severity of your disease. Usually, symptoms are worse after a recent period of heavy drinking. In fact, you may not even have symptoms until the disease is pretty advanced. Generally, symptoms of alcoholic liver disease include abdominal pain and tenderness, dry mouth and increased thirst, fatigue, jaundice (which is yellowing of the skin), loss of appetite, and nausea. Your skin may look abnormally dark or light. Your feet or hands may look red. You may notice small, red, spider-like blood vessels on your skin. You may have abnormal bleeding. Your stools might be dark, bloody, black, or tarry. You may have frequent nosebleeds or bleeding gums. You may vomit blood or material that looks like coffee grounds. Alcoholic liver disease also can affect your brain and nervous system. Symptoms include agitation, changing mood, confusion, and pain, numbness, or a tingling sensation in your arms or legs. The most important part of treatment is to stop drinking alcohol completely. If you don’t have liver cirrhosis yet, your liver can actually heal itself, that is, if you stop drinking alcohol. You may need an alcohol rehabilitation program or counseling to break free from alcohol. Vitamins, especially B-complex vitamins and folic acid, can help reverse malnutrition. If cirrhosis develops, you will need to manage the problems it can cause. It may even lead to needing a liver transplant.
There may be no symptoms, or symptoms may come on slowly. This depends on how well the liver is working. Symptoms tend to be worse after a period of heavy drinking.
Early symptoms include:
- Loss of energy
- Poor appetite and weight loss
- Belly pain
- Small, red spider-like blood vessels on the skin
As liver function worsens, symptoms may include:
- Fluid buildup of the legs (edema) and in the abdomen ascites
- Yellow color in the skin, mucous membranes, or eyes jaundice
- Redness on the palms of the hands
- In men, impotence, shrinking of the testicles, and breast swelling
- Easy bruising and abnormal bleeding
- Confusion or problems thinking
- Pale or clay-colored stools
Exams and Tests
Your health care provider will do a physical exam to look for:
- An enlarged liver or spleen
- Excess breast tissue
- Swollen abdomen, as a result of too much fluid
- Reddened palms
- Red spider-like blood vessels on the skin
- Small testicles
- Widened veins in the abdomen wall
- Yellow eyes or skin (jaundice)
Tests you may have include:
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Liver function tests
- Coagulation studies
- Liver biopsy
Tests to rule out other diseases include:
- Abdominal CT scan
- Blood tests for other causes of liver disease
- Ultrasound of the abdomen
- Ultrasound elastography
Some things you can do to help take care of your liver disease are:
- Stop drinking alcohol.
- Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt.
- Get vaccinated for diseases such as influenza, hepatitis A and hepatitis B, and pneumococcal pneumonia.
- Talk to your provider about all medicines you take, including herbs and supplements and over-the-counter medicines.
MEDICINES FROM YOUR DOCTOR
- “Water pills” (diuretics) to get rid of fluid buildup
- Vitamin K or blood products to prevent excess bleeding
- Medicines for mental confusion
- Antibiotics for infections
- Endoscopic treatments for enlarged veins in the esophagus (esophageal varices)
- Removal of fluid from the abdomen (paracentesis)
- Placement of a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) to repair blood flow in the liver
When cirrhosis progresses to end-stage liver disease, a liver transplant may be needed. Liver transplantation for alcoholic liver disease is only considered in people who have completely avoided alcohol for 6 months.
Many people benefit from joining support groups for alcoholism or liver disease.
Alcoholic liver disease is treatable if it is caught before it causes severe damage. However, continued excessive drinking can shorten your lifespan.
Cirrhosis further worsens the condition and can lead to serious complications. In case of severe damage, the liver cannot heal or return to normal function.
Complications may include:
- Bleeding disorders (coagulopathy)
- Buildup of fluid in the abdomen (ascites) and infection of the fluid (bacterial peritonitis)
- Enlarged veins in the esophagus, stomach, or intestines that bleed easily (esophageal varices)
- Increased pressure in the blood vessels of the liver (portal hypertension)
- Kidney failure (hepatorenal syndrome)
- Liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma)
- Mental confusion, change in the level of consciousness, or coma hepatic encephalopathy
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Contact your provider if you:
- Develop symptoms of alcoholic liver disease
- Develop symptoms after a long period of heavy drinking
- Are worried that drinking may be harming your health
Get emergency medical help right away if you have:
- Abdominal or chest pain
- Abdominal swelling or ascites that is new or suddenly becomes worse
- A fever (temperature greater than 101°F, or 38.3°C)
- New confusion or a change in alertness, or it gets worse
- Rectal bleeding, vomiting blood, or blood in the urine
- Shortness of breath
- Vomiting more than once a day
- Yellowing skin or eyes (jaundice) that is new or gets worse quickly