Can The Liver Repair Itself After Years Of Heavy Drinking?
- Reversible Liver Damage
- Irreversible Liver Damage
- How To Repair Your Liver
- How Long Does It Take The Liver To Heal?
Alcohol is considered a toxin to the body and the liver is tasked with flushing out toxins to protect the body from damage.
But after heavy drinking or consistent binge drinking, the process of constantly removing toxins can damage the liver cells and lead to alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD).
While the liver can regenerate and heal itself, it may not be able to repair itself completely if the damage is significant enough.
Some damage and milder liver diseases can be reversed completely if you abstain from drinking alcohol, but more serious diseases can change the liver irreparably and even lead to liver failure and possible death.
Types Of Liver Diseases That Are Reversible
Some types of liver disease can be reversed, including:
Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Alcoholic fatty liver disease and the build-up of fats in the liver can be completely reversed if alcohol consumption is stopped. If you don’t stop drinking, it can develop into alcoholic hepatitis.
Alcohol-induced hepatitis and inflammation of the liver can be reversed if alcohol use is stopped. If you don’t stop drinking, it can become cirrhosis, which cannot be reversed naturally.
Irreversible Liver Damage
The liver cannot heal itself once it has scarred enough to become alcoholic cirrhosis. Early stages of cirrhosis may be reversed, but middle to late stages where the scar tissue has completely taken over the liver likely require treatment or a liver transplant to regain liver function and survive.
Symptoms of cirrhosis may include:
- easily bleeding or bruising
- loss of appetite
- fluid in the abdomen (ascites)
- swelling in your legs, feet, or ankles
- weight loss
- high blood pressure
- itchy skin
- yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
How To Repair Your Liver From The Effects Of Alcohol
Alcohol-induced liver damage cannot always be reversed. However, when it can be, there are a few things you can do to help your liver regain its strength.
Stop Drinking Alcohol
The liver needs time to break down toxins without new ones put into the system. Abstaining from alcohol is the best thing you can do to help your liver heal.
If you’re a heavy drinker and have a hard time quitting, think about entering an addiction treatment program or going to a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Prioritize A Healthy Lifestyle
This means making healthy lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet, avoiding salty foods, exercising regularly, and quitting any other substances that may be hurting your body.
Some foods that are good for the liver include:
- acidic fruits
- fiber-rich food
- healthy oils
- green tea
Check Your Medications
Some medications can affect your liver function. Talk to your healthcare provider if you’re worried about your liver health.
How Long Does It Take The Liver To Heal?
How long it takes for the liver to heal depends on a number of different factors. The length of time can be different for everyone. Some of the things that affect the healing time include:
- amount of alcohol used
- length of time alcohol was used
- diagnosis of alcohol-related liver disease and severity of liver damage
- lifestyle and health choices outside of drinking
- genetics related to alcohol use disorder (AUD) and addiction
In general, heavy alcohol consumption can take months to years to recover from.
Sometimes 30 days of not drinking alcohol can be enough, but other times, it can take much longer for the liver to heal. Even switching to moderate drinking may not be enough to heal the liver; quitting alcohol might be the only option
If you or a loved one struggles with alcohol abuse, contact us to learn how we can help.
Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
This page does not provide medical advice.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs - Reversing liver damage
National Institutes of Health - Cells that maintain and repair the liver identified
National Institutes of Health - Reversing a common liver disease
StatPearls - Alcoholic Liver Disease
Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology - Reversal of liver fibrosis: From fiction to reality
Questions About Treatment?
Ark Behavioral Health offers 100% confidential substance abuse assessment and treatment placement tailored to your individual needs. Achieve long-term recovery.
100% confidential. We respect your privacy.
We've got you covered.
Receive 24/7 text support right away.
There is no obligation and you can opt out at any time.