Alcohol addiction is a crippling and debilitating disease that takes its toll both mentally and physically on individuals who suffer from it. Alcohol addiction, in addition to having a myriad of other negative effects, also increases the risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver.
The liver, the largest organ in the body, is essential for proper health and bodily functions. It removes and neutralizes poisons found in the blood, produces immune agents to help control infection, and keep s the blood free of germs and bacteria. In addition, the liver also makes proteins that regulate blood clotting and produce bile to help absorb both fat soluble volumes and additional fats. Cirrhosis is the build up of scar tissue in place of normal healthy tissue, causing the flow of blood through the organ to slow or stop and impairing overall liver function. Cirrhosis is the twelfth leading cause of death by disease in the United States, and kills approximately 26,000 people every year.
Cirrhosis is often synonymous with chronic alcoholism, and alcohol addiction is one of the major causes of this disease, which typically develops after a decade or more of heavy drinking. The amount varies from person to person, but it has been shown that alcohol injures the liver by blocking its normal metabolism. Cirrhosis affects the body in many ways, including edema and ascites, which occur when the liver loses its ability to make the protein albumin. As a result, water accumulates both in the legs (edema) and in the abdomen. (ascites)
Bruising and bleeding can also occur as a result of the liver being unable to continue regular production of the proteins needed for blood clotting. Jaundice, also, is a common side effect and occurs when the liver is not able to absorb enough bilirubin. Another more serious side effect of cirrhosis brought on by alcohol addiction is the presence of toxins in the blood or brain, since a damaged liver is unable to remove these substances. Toxins can dull mental functioning and cause pronounced personality changes, and lead to coma and even death.
Alcohol addiction is a serious problem but luckily, one that is also highly treatable with proper therapy and with the assistance of dedicated and trained professionals in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation setting. While Cirrhosis does have many causes, it cannot be ignored that the primary cause of this disease is in direct correlation to alcoholism. Treating alcohol addiction, then, does more than just help the addict to control their current problem; it also, if done correctly, can aid in the prevention of future problems, conditions, and diseases.