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How to Reverse Damage From Alcohol Abuse

Updated on April 15, 2017
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I am a Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. I also come from a family that was plagued with substance abuse and depression.

Alcoholic Drinks
Alcoholic Drinks | Source

Alcohol

Alcohol is a legal drug that is socially accepted worldwide.

Like any drug, alcohol is dangerous to the user’s body, brain, and nervous system. These problems are most prevalent while the user is under the influence of alcohol and during withdrawal. In order to repair the body of the damage caused by the abuse, it is important to understand what the complications are.

The physical recovery from severe alcohol abuse to the body can be a long journey. There are many different internal body parts that are affected from long-term exposure to this substance.

Liver Damage

Fatty liver disease is largely caused by continuous alcohol consumption.

The liver cannot process large amounts of alcohol and stops working properly, prompting fat to build up around the liver. This can lead to steatohepatitis which means that the fatty liver is also inflamed and could be producing more noticeable symptoms. Those may include, discomfort in the abdomen and jaundice of the skin or eye area.

If the alcohol abuse continues, the next stage is liver cirrhosis which is caused by scar tissue. Each time the liver is damaged by the toxins in alcohol it creates scar tissue. The scar tissue will build up and prevent the liver from functioning properly. Repetitive scaring can result in permanent damage and possibly complete liver failure.

Reversing Liver Damage

The liver is an amazing organ in that it can repair itself to a certain degree with the proper support. The scar tissue prevalent in cirrhosis is irreversible but in mild cases the liver can function fairly well around it. In order reverse fatty liver disease or steatohepatitis the individual would need to adopt a diet low in fat and high in essential vitamins and nutrients. The elimination of excess body weight is also very important and reducing the amount of over the counter pain medications taken on a regular basis. Of course, this would all be futile without the elimination of alcohol.

Gastritis and Stomach Ulcers

Acute gastritis and/or stomach ulcers are a common result with alcohol abuse.

Gastritis is an inflammation in the stomach caused by damage to the stomach lining. This can lead to a stomach ulcer.

An ulcer is a sore in the lining of the stomach caused by excessive acid and bacteria that can be created by the alcohol. Left untreated, an ulcer can burst and become extremely painful and even life threatening.

Reversing Gastriointestinal Damage

Gastritis and most stomach ulcers can be relieved and reversed by stopping the excess stomach acid from being created. In some cases, medications is necessary.

The elimination of all alcohol is necessary in all cases however

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

An extremely frequently neurological condition that is associated with alcohol abuse is called Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. This is caused by the lack nutrients in the body, most specifically Thiamine or vitamin B1 due to the abuse of alcohol.

Korsakoff syndrome is loosely described as a memory deficit. The symptoms include: the inability to process new information, short term and/or long term memory loss, attention deficit and being disoriented. There may be other symptoms and in-depth difficulties associated with this syndrome as well. Wernicke syndrome has been described as feeling confused and/or impaired eye movement and function.

These symptoms are most often experienced at the same time, prompting the name Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome.

Reversing the Damage of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome

Eliminating alcohol from the system is the first and most important step in repairing the damage of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. Professional medical assistance is required to sufficiently regain as much mental clarity possible. More severe cases may require hospitalization until the symptoms stabilize.

High doses of Thiamine supplements will most likely be prescribed and will dramatically reduce the Wernicke Syndrome but will not affect the Korsakoff symptoms. A diet full of nutrients and low in carbohydrates will have an enormous impact on preventing further damage to the brain and nerves.

Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy is a disease that could affect long time alcohol abusers and may go largely unnoticed until the critical stages. This disease enlarges the heart and weakens the muscle. This can cause multiple serious long term conditions, some of which can be life altering or fatal.

There are definite symptoms that are associated with cardiomyopathy but many of them may be dismissed as something else because they resemble many of the other complications brought on by alcohol abuse. These symptoms include but are not limited to: fatigue, swollen abdomen, dizziness, lack of physical ability, and swollen feet.

Managing Cardiomyopathy

Cardiomyopathy may certainly be one of the life-long effects of alcohol abuse.

While much of the damage caused by excessive abuse may be reversed with a life style change, this one isn’t that simple. Although, there are medications and treatments that can help immensely to improve and prolong the life of the individual with this disease.

If you or anyone you know has a history of heart disease in your family or are recovering from severe alcohol abuse, see a doctor for a formal examination.

Vitamin Deficiencies

Vitamin deficiencies can occur due to a lack of appetite and alcohol preventing the absorption of necessary nutrients in the body. The most common deficiencies are vitamins D, B12, B6, A, C and thiamine.

A Return to Health

Most of the damage caused from alcohol abuse can be reversed or dramatically improved by eliminating alcohol completely. It is also extremely important to eat a diet low in fat and high in nutrients, engage in moderate exercise, keep weight under control, and take the appropriate vitamin supplements.

It isn’t uncommon for it to take a year or more to regain the physical heath that the alcohol has damaged. It could take as long as two year for the mental clarity to fully return and for the short term memory to function as it once did.

Detox and Withdrawal

The detoxification of alcohol from the body or withdrawal can be life threatening.

It is a process that needs to be monitored closely by a medical professional and should not be done at home alone without supervision. The neurological and physical changes experienced while intoxicated and during withdrawal can be scary and painful in the best scenario and fatal in the worst.

Once the alcohol has control, it is imperative that the user seek help to get the control back.

If you or anyone you know has symptoms similar to these or any other health concerns please contact your doctor or health professional. Do not attempt to diagnose or treat yourself for fear of further complications.

Have You Ever Known Anyone Who Has Suffered Due To Damage From Alcohol Abuse?

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