Knowing your liver
Until I began recovery at Resurgence Behavioral Health, I had no interest or idea of what damage I had done to my liver.
I was deep in my addiction and understanding the functions of a major organ was low on my list of priorities.
The liver is one of the most important and complex organs in the human body.
And my time at Resurgence recovering from alcohol addiction inspired me to write this article about the liver and why it is important, and why drinking can be detrimental to its functioning.
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There are no artificial organs or devices that can imitate the functions of the liver
To put it bluntly, you need your liver just as much as you need your heart or brain.
The liver’s primary functions include filtering toxins from the blood, aiding in the digestion of food, helping to fight disease and infection and regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Although the liver is a tough organ that can take a lot of wear and tear, it does have its limits.
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The liver is normally able to handle the occasional amount of alcohol. The average liver can process what amounts to one small drink an hour. Binge drinking and prolonged alcohol abuse can be extremely disruptive and potentially deadly. One thing that’s interesting to note is that alcohol digestion is different for men and women. Men have a higher tolerance for alcohol due to having a higher concentration of dehydrogenase. This is a stomach enzyme that helps break down alcohol before it reaches the liver.
When you drink excessively over a long period of time, fat begins to build up in and around the liver. This condition is known as fatty liver disease. Your body is taking in more alcohol than the liver can process, and the breakdown of fat is stunted. Left untreated, fatty liver disease can give way to alcoholic hepatitis. At this point, the liver is subject to inflammation. This inflammation interferes with the liver’s normal functions. As scary as this sounds, this process can still be reversed. A number of other factors can worsen this inflammation, namely poor diet, immune system disorders and advanced age.
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If this process is not halted or slowed down, the inflammation will eventually cause cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the scar tissue that forms around the liver and it is irreversible. Although cirrhosis may not necessarily lead to immediate death, it will leave you with lifelong damage. Your liver may be beyond repair at this point, but there are certain things you can do to enhance its remaining functions. The complete removal of alcohol, as well as a high-protein diet will give you a fighting chance.
Resurgence Behavioral Health did a great job of being blunt with me and informing me of the consequences of drinking. You can’t sugarcoat it. Like I mentioned before, if you lose your liver, you lose your life. It really does speak volumes to the power of addiction. There are plenty of people who know that they are actively damaging their liver and shortening their lifespan, yet they keep drinking anyway. I knew this when I was at my lowest point, but it didn’t matter.
I think of my liver now as one of my best friends. Like any close friend, it tries to keep you going even when it feels like it can’t keep going itself. Your liver deserves all the love and care that you can give it. If you can think of your liver as a friend, it may help you think a little more about what you’re doing to it.
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Steps to repair your liver
First and foremost, stop drinking. Cutting out alcohol entirely gives your liver a huge advantage. Don’t ever think it’s too late or your liver is too far gone. This goes beyond alcohol. You need to cut out anything else that is doing your body damage. Smoking, processed foods and saturated fat are other contributors to an unhealthy liver. Embracing a healthy lifestyle is a huge factor in your physical and emotional health. Think of it as healing your body and your mind simultaneously. Your liver will get better, and your mind will be sharper too.
Watch what over-the-counter medications you put into your body as well. Large amounts of Acetaminophen over time will cause harm to your liver. Do not take Advil or Tylenol on a regular basis. Prescription drugs can also be quite detrimental. If you are someone who is struggling with both an alcohol addiction and a prescription drug addiction, it will very rapidly destroy your liver.
You can’t heal your liver overnight. It is a process much like your recovery. What’s the first thing you can do? Drink a lot of water. The best thing you can do for your liver is to flush it out, and water is just what it needs. We often take water for granted. A lot of people would rather have soda or flavored water. You need to drink pure water with no additives. Not only will you be hydrating your liver, but you will also be hydrating your entire body as well as your brain. This will help you be alert, productive and have a more balanced mood. As a result, you will be in a much better position to face recovery.
Eat a lot of vegetables. Eat a lot of fruit. Do you like coffee? You’re in luck! Coffee is good for the liver. When your body digests caffeine, it makes a chemical called paraxanthine. This chemical slows the growth of scar tissue. These are all steps that I learned in this rehab and have been able to incorporate into my lifestyle. I’ve never felt better. If your liver has taken a lot of damage from alcohol, don’t ever forget that you have the power to heal yourself.
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If you have an issue with alcohol, try out a rehab program.
Resurgence Behavioral Health changed my life for the positive.
I’m not saying that it would be the best fit for you, that’s up for you to decide.
But if you are an addict and know someone who is an addict, I can tell you that the staff and facility helped heal me and my liver for good.