Did you know that drugs and alcohol can damage your liver? In fact, even many over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements may cause liver injury. Because the liver plays a critical role in regulating blood sugar and filtering toxins from the blood, it is one of the most important human organs to protect and is one of the heaviest-hit organs in those who suffer from substance use disorder.
What Are the Liver’s Main Functions?
The liver cells process dietary and stored fats into energy that supports the body’s regular functions. The liver also produces bile acids that break down and facilitate the intestinal absorption of fats from one’s diet. It regulates blood sugar by using stored glycogen when glucose levels are low and removing it from the blood when glucose levels are high.
The liver also breaks down proteins and converts amino acids into useable energy. It produces circulating proteins that help blood clot normally while breaking down old blood cells. For people who abuse drugs or alcohol, the liver must work extra hard to detoxify these substances and remove the harmful byproducts from metabolizing damaging substances.
Which Substances Cause Liver Damage?
The most common drugs that cause liver injury include excessive dosages of acetaminophen, cocaine, phencyclidine, and alcohol. Drug- or alcohol-induced liver injury has become the most common cause of needing a liver transplant.
Unlike pharmaceutical medications, dietary supplements don’t require any testing or vetting, though they may also present risks to liver health. The most common ones are workout supplements and fat-burning supplements that are supposed to help people gain muscle and lose weight.
People who suffer acute drug or alcohol-induced liver injury may develop jaundice and lack an appetite. Health professionals will ask about the specific mediation or supplements one is taking to make the diagnosis. Different medications or substances may cause different types of liver disease that have varying latency periods.
What Happens to the Liver During Detoxification?
Without medically-assisted detoxification, drugs or alcohol may stay in one’s system for hours, days, even weeks. The liver is overburdened during detox as it tries to repair damages to itself and other parts of the body. Many liver cells die when one’s liver filters alcohol or drugs. The time it takes for one’s liver to detox from substances depends on a range of factors. Even after achieving early sobriety, the liver’s ability to repair and renew its cells is impaired.
Liver detox may come with withdrawal syndrome, including nausea, vomiting, seizures, tremors, sweating, elevated blood pressure, and insomnia. Some people may even develop liver cirrhosis, the irreversible scarring of the organ. This happens when one’s liver becomes exhausted from trying to catch up and filter out toxins. Medical professionals can help people undergoing detox and treatment understand and manage these symptoms. Those in recovery should trust their expertise and follow through with a complete detox.
Can Liver Damage Be Reversed?
The good news is that, like the brain, the liver has the ability to renew itself. However, it takes time, patience, and active planning for that to happen. One precondition of liver recovery is abstinence from drugs and alcohol. After these harmful chemicals are flushed out of one’s system during detox, more is required for a full recovery.
The liver needs time to recuperate after a history of substance use. Experienced recovery professionals can help people in recovery design diet and exercise routines to help reverse liver damage. Simple liver detox habits, such as getting enough sleep, drinking water, and sweating out toxins through exercise should not be underestimated.
How Do You Help the Liver Heal in Sobriety?
There are many natural ways to help one’s liver heal from the damage of drugs and alcohol. Every morning, drink a glass of water with a squeeze of lemon juice, which has cleaning properties that revitalize the liver. Other foods that help the liver heal include apples, beets, cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, grains, fish, garlic, and turmeric. The liver’s self-healing depends on feeding these good nutrients to one’s system.
Along with adjusting your dietary habits, one should avoid weight gain through regular exercise. Obesity may increase a person’s risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Because fat in the liver can cause inflammation, it can eventually lead to the development of fibrosis and cirrhosis. Those who have a family history of liver disease should pay extra attention to liver health-promoting activities and self-care methods.
Although more people are paying attention to how substance addiction harms overall health, liver health is an important area that should not be overlooked. If you are struggling with liver disease-related symptoms during detoxification, seek further diagnosis from health professionals. Like addiction itself, liver disease is treatable with careful planning and consistent implementation.
Are you aware that long-term substance use may damage your key organs? There are warning signs to watch out for if your liver health has deteriorated. During treatment, medically-assisted detox can help your heart, liver, and other key organs recuperate, but recovery takes much more than that. A comprehensive plan to detox and treat your mind and body is needed. You can work with experienced health professionals to monitor and evaluate your recovery progress. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our experienced health professionals can coach you through recovering from organ damage due to substance abuse. We have a full medical facility staffed by licensed health professionals. Schedule an appointment with us today to discover how we can help you. Do not neglect your health if your body is sending warning signs. Call us at (866) 229-9923, and we will be happy to talk with you about short-term and long-term recovery plans.