Trusted Content

Liver Damage As A Result From Drug And Alcohol Use

Dr. Alan Weiner MD

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Alan Weiner, MD

March 7, 2019

Drinking accessive amounts of alcohol or abusing drugs can lead to several negative health consequences including liver damage. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of liver disease in order to help prevent further damage.

Alcohol and drug use can damage your body in many ways. One of the areas that can be damaged as a result from drug and alcohol use is your liver. The liver helps us in digestion and produces proteins vital to blood clotting. Our livers also help rid our bodies of toxins. Any time we drink alcohol or use drugs (even sniffing inhalants affects the liver), the liver has to work extremely hard to rid the body of these toxins. When we introduce toxins and poison into our bodies, the liver may have to work so hard that it does not function as well as it used to or may shut down completely.

Chronic drug use such as heroin, steroids, or even inhalants can cause severe liver damage. Alcohol can also cause severe problems to your liver. Seeking help for your drug or alcohol addiction can help save your liver and your life.

The Liver And The Sea Star

Starfish–or sea stars–in the ocean are fascinating. Not only are they pretty, but they have an astounding quality to them. Many of us know that when a sea star is damaged (such as losing one of its limbs) it is able to regenerate that limb in a few months or years. This ability to regenerate is wildly awesome.

So what does a sea star have to do with our livers? Our livers are the only organ in our bodies that can regenerate. For example, when our heart or other organs get damaged, scar tissue is formed. The liver, on the other hand, is able to regenerate new cells over scars if the tissue gets damaged.

When we introduce drugs or alcohol into our system, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and causes the liver to work extra hard to rid the body of the toxins. Liver disease caused by drugs or alcohol prevents the liver from fully regenerating and healing. Liver disease can also occur if drug or alcohol use causes liver regeneration to be incomplete. So basically, when you use alcohol or drugs, your liver is under constant attack, trying to repair itself, but the more that you use drugs and alcohol, the less chance your liver has to regenerate and recover.

Once scar tissue has occurred in the liver, it is hard and some point, impossible to reverse this damage. Cirrhosis is when the liver is severely scarred. This is a late-stage liver disease. Severe damage to your liver can lead to liver failure or death. Sometimes severe damage could lead to liver transplants.

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Do I Have Liver Disease?

Some people think that they are invincible. But we are all human and vulnerable to ailments like liver damage. If we use drugs and alcohol, the substances are going to affect our bodies negatively in some way or another. Just because our livers can regenerate, it does not mean that we should abuse our bodies. Our bodies have a breaking point and any amount of drugs or alcohol can be damaging.

If you have been abusing drugs and alcohol and you are worried about damage to your liver, you should first seek help for your addiction and see a doctor right away.

Here are some fast facts you need to know about liver disease:

  • 50 percent of individuals don’t even know they have liver disease. In other words, no signs or symptoms occur.
  • If you use drugs and alcohol (heavily or for years), you are at the highest risk for liver disease and should seek professional help immediately.
  • Some common symptoms that occur are: fatigue/extreme tiredness, lack of drive, and itching.
  • Some symptoms that could prove your liver disease is more serious are: jaundice (yellow eyes or skin), GI tract bleeding, mental confusion, dark urine, pale or light stool, and fluid retention in the abdomen.
  • If you think you have cirrhosis, you should see a doctor immediately.
  • Over 31,000 people die each year in the United State due to cirrhosis (usually by alcoholic liver disease or chronic hepatitis C).
  • Cirrhosis can’t be cured, although treatment can alleviate some symptoms. It is a chronic disease and can last years or a lifetime.
  • Cirrhosis is common. There are 200,000 to 3 million cases of cirrhosis every year in the United States.

Seek Help Today

Alcohol and drugs damage your body each time you use them. Do not be the individual that waits to seek help. You have the chance now to turn your life around and start treatment for your addiction.

At, we are just a call or click away, so contact us and get help today. Battling an addiction from drugs or alcohol is a journey you don’t need to take alone. We understand what you are going through, so let us help you. Reach out today.

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