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Can Binge Drinking Lead to Liver Damage?

Can Binge Drinking Lead to Liver Damage? Resurgence Behavioral Health

Understanding Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of a large or excessive amount of alcohol within a 2 hour time period. During this time, patients will reach a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. The amount of alcohol consumed that is considered binge drinking will defer between women and men as each gender metabolizes alcohol differently. There are multiple factors that will impact how alcohol impacts a person and their levels of intoxication.

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The various factors include:

  • Level of alcohol tolerance 
  • Differences in individual alcohol metabolisms 
  • Additional substance abuse used in conjunction with alcohol 
  • The amount of alcohol someone consumes on a regular basis 
  • The number of alcoholic beverages consumed at each drinking session 

There are cases when individuals who engage in binge drinking behavior will not develop an alcohol use disorder but it does have the potential of putting an individual at risk of acquiring an alcohol addiction the longer your binge drinking behavior continues. This leaves many wondering how they can identify if their binge drinking behavior has progressed into an alcohol use disorder and needs to be addressed through an alcohol rehab program.

Common signs and indicators that can identify a problem with your alcohol consumption are:

  1. Experiencing strong urges or cravings for alcohol 
  2. Expressing a desire to quit or cut back on alcohol use but experiencing failed attempts at doing so 
  3. Continued use of alcohol even after experiencing significant disruptions within your social and interpersonal relationships 
  4. Spending the majority of your time attempting to get alcohol, plan for the next time you will drink, engaging in alcohol consumption, and needing long periods of time to recover from alcohol binges 
  5. Decreased performance in school, work or maintaining family responsibilities due to your alcohol abuse 
  6. Developing a tolerance to alcohol causes you to have to drink more within a period to reach the same desired effect 
  7. Isolating from loved ones and social circles or changing social circles to be around others who are engaging in binge drinking behaviors 
  8. Loss of interest in activities that once brought you happiness and joy to shift your focus to alcohol use 
  9. Engaging in alcohol abuse in high-risk situations such as drinking and driving 
  10. Experiencing severe or significant changes to your physical or psychological health due to your alcohol use but continuing to drink regardless of the impacts it is having on you 
  11. Experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms once you stop drinking alcohol 

How Much Is Too Much?

Every individual will have their own unique relationship with alcohol and it will impact each person differently. Knowing how much is too much will depend on your own physiological makeup and individual factors. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has created certain guidelines to establish and define what a standard amount is per alcoholic drink along with defining what moderate and heavy alcohol consumption are for most people. 

  • According to NIAAA, a standard drink is considered to be one 5 ounce glass of wine, one 12 ounce beer, or one 1.5 ounce shot of distilled spirits including tequila, rum, gin, whiskey, or vodka. 
  • Binge drinking is considered to be four drinks or more for women or five drinks or more for men when consumed within a 2-hour window of time. 
  • Moderate alcohol use is defined as two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women 
  • Heavy alcohol use is defined as engaging in binge drinking behaviors for five or more days within the last month. 

How Binge Drinking Affects The Liver

Alcohol consumption puts your liver at risk each time you consume it as your liver is the primary organ responsible for processing alcohol once it enters your body. The more your alcohol intake increases, the harder your liver has to work to filter through the toxins of alcohol creating long-term effects on your overall liver functioning including inflammation of the liver and significantly damaged cells within your liver. 

The longer you engage in alcohol abuse, your liver will begin to deteriorate within certain stages and levels of severity of liver damage. The three common phases of liver damage are: 

Fatty Liver

This occurs after consuming alcohol for a longer period of time and as time progresses, there becomes a buildup of fatty tissue on the liver. Many individuals will not feel any physical symptoms or negative side effects when this occurs which poses a risk as there is no indication that your drinking habits have started to become problematic. The good news is that if this stage is caught in time, there is an ability to reverse the damage done by quitting your alcohol consumption. 

Alcoholic Hepatitis

After continuing to engage in heavy or excessive binge drinking, there is a potential for your liver to become inflamed resulting in serious negative health consequences including malnutrition, kidney and liver failure, fluid accumulation in your abdomen area, or significant changes in behaviors 

Cirrhosis

This is often the final stage of liver damage and is irreversible. Cirrhosis is categorized by scar tissue in your liver that can result in serious health concerns and illness. If it goes untreated without a liver transplant it can result in liver failure or death. 

Early Signs of Liver Damage

How can you know when your alcohol consumption has begun to impact your liver and is progressing to liver damage? There are early signs to be mindful of that will indicate to you it is time to address your alcohol use within an alcohol rehab to prevent the progression of liver damage.

Early signs of liver damage to be mindful of are: 

  • Experiencing tenderness around the area of your liver 
  • Nausea 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Unexplained, dramatic weight loss 
  • Swelling within your ankles or feet 
  • Fever 
  • Itchy skin 
  • Jaundice 
  • Increased risk or sensitivity to illness 

If you have been engaging in alcohol consumption for long periods of time and are starting to experience liver failure, you will exhibit different signs and indicators that your alcohol use needs to be addressed immediately to preserve your liver functioning and overall health and wellbeing.

Those signs are: 

  • Blood within your feces or vomit 
  • Disorientation 
  • Ascites which is a buildup of fluid within your abdomen 
  • Hepatic encephalopathy, brain damage resulting from increased blood toxins 

Repairing Liver Failure

There are some steps you can take to address the liver damage that has been created, however, depending on the progression and stage of your liver damage it may be too late. Individuals that are living with cirrhosis are unfortunately unable to cure their disease as the damage to the liver is irreversible. There are steps you can take to slow down the progression of cirrhosis by quitting your alcohol consumption to stop any further damage. 

For those individuals with fatty liver disease, there are steps you can take to begin to repair the damage that alcohol has created. The best method you can take to overcome fatty liver disease is to adjust your nutritional diet and intake along with eliminating the use of alcohol. If you are able to refrain from alcohol use for two weeks, you will be able to return your liver to normal functioning. 

Alcoholic hepatitis has the potential of being reversed depending on how severe your alcoholic hepatitis is. If it is mild or moderate, there are steps you can take to reverse the damage done with the main strategy being to cease your alcohol consumption right away. In some cases, patients may be prescribed medications to help reduce the inflammation within the liver, therefore, allowing your liver time to heal. 

Alcohol Rehab for Binge Drinking

Alcohol rehab provides patients with an opportunity to address their alcohol consumption within a safe, empowering environment. Patients will be able to safely remove the toxins of alcohol from their body within a medically supervised detox program where medical professionals will be monitoring their alcohol withdrawal symptoms and providing medical treatments and medications to ensure the severity of withdrawal symptoms are mitigated and reduced to a mild, comfortable level. 

After completing alcohol detox, patients will be able to address what is at the root of their alcohol abuse through various evidence-based methods of addiction treatment. No one wakes up deciding to become an alcoholic and put their body at risk of liver damage, in fact, most people living with an alcohol addiction or binge drinking behaviors turn to alcohol as a method of coping with everyday triggers or traumas. Alcohol rehab works to address those core concerns to help you reestablish healthy coping tools to overcome future triggers while remaining sober. 

Prevent Liver Damage at Resurgence Alcohol Rehab

At Resurgence Behavioral Health, we have a dynamic team of physicians, psychiatrists, and addiction counselors that will assist patients in gaining an understanding of how alcohol use has impacted their lives while empowering patients to establish a newfound life of sobriety and health. Your progress will be monitored throughout your alcohol rehab program to ensure that you are able to heal from the liver damage incurred as well as the deep-rooted causes of your addiction within a safe and secure environment. Contact Resurgence Behavioral Health today to have any questions or concerns answered about your drinking habits and accept the gift of alcohol rehab where you can heal from addiction within your body, mind, and spirit. 

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Individualized treatment programs delivered in a comfortable, relaxed setting promote healing in your recovery journey.

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Alexa Iocco

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