How Much Alcohol Can Cause Liver Damage?

Alcohol addiction carries with it a number of health risks. The chronic abuse of alcohol can impact your physical and mental health, leading to issues like high blood pressure or anxiety and depression. One of the most common effects of alcohol addiction is liver damage. Over time, heavy drinking can overwhelm the liver and leave it unable to carry out its basic functions, including filtering out harmful substances. The liver damage caused by alcohol can be reversible, but prevention is the best way to address these potential issues.


Alcohol rehab can help you or a loved one stop harmful drinking and begin recovery with a strong foundation and a network of support. 

The Connection Between Alcohol and Liver Damage

The liver is responsible for a number of important functions. It metabolizes alcohol and other substances, produces bile, cleans the blood, and stores energy in the form of glycogen. Unfortunately, the liver is also the first organ to be impacted by heavy alcohol use and can sustain the greatest damage.


About 35% of those who drink heavily or are diagnosed as “problem drinkers” will experience liver damage as a result, with many developing advanced liver disease.


The liver is responsible for metabolizing alcohol but can only do so effectively at the rate of about one drink per hour. When an individual’s blood alcohol level is higher, the liver will take more time to process each drink. This unprocessed alcohol leads to intoxication. 


Over time, alcohol abuse will lead to scarring on the liver, known as cirrhosis.


How much alcohol causes liver damage? The amount will differ depending on a number of factors, including:


  • Weight
  • Size
  • Sex

Women absorb more alcohol from each drink than men do, generally. As few as two or three drinks over a period of just a couple of hours can cause liver damage, while binge drinking and combining alcohol with other substances can put an individual at greater risk.

Can Liver Damage Be Reversed?

Typically, liver damage is reversible. Abstaining from alcohol can allow the liver to repair itself, especially in the early stages of liver damage, such as fatty liver disease. However, left untreated, cirrhosis of the liver can be fatal.


Moderate consumption is not an option for many individuals who struggle with alcohol addiction. Even though one to two alcoholic drinks per day might be safer for the liver, those with substance use disorders should abstain from alcohol to avoid a relapse.


Alcohol addiction treatment can help those who struggle with alcohol abuse work towards sustainable recovery. While alcohol addiction is a serious physical and mental health problem, treatment can help individuals with SUD heal in every aspect of their lives. The most effective treatment programs provide individualized care and a comprehensive approach that involves both evidence-based and holistic therapies. A trauma-informed approach can also help those who have been impacted by trauma as they work to overcome addiction.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment at Hammocks on the Edisto

Liver damage should not be overlooked as an effect of alcohol abuse and addiction. The amount of alcohol it takes to damage the liver is smaller than you might think, and the threat to your health that alcohol addiction poses cannot be overstated.


Hammocks on the Edisto provides individualized, trauma-informed addiction treatment for women near Charleston. Women who are struggling with alcohol addiction can find consistent support and evidence-based therapies in our residential center. If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction, reach out to our team today. We’re here to connect women with effective treatment that can make a lasting difference.


Contact us at 833.793.0191 or reach out online today to learn more.

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