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Living with your Liver

Many people with chronic alcohol dependence or other drug addictions experience liver disease. This is no accident. The liver is used to digest food, absorb nutrients, and get toxic substances (like alcohol and drugs) out of your body. The liver is an important organ in the body; you only have one and cannot survive without it.  And with alcohol’s effects on the body, liver problems could just be the beginning.

Alcohol abuse is not the only way to damage your liver. Unprotected sex, sharing needles, prescription drug abuse and addiction, and getting tattoos or piercings from places that do not properly sterilize the needles also can put you at risk of liver disease and damage.

There are many forms of liver disease; the conditions listed below are most common among alcohol and other drug abusers.

Cirrhosis – scarring of the liver that is caused by having another liver disease (like Hepatitis), or by many years of heavy alcohol drinking. Cirrhosis is not curable, but there are treatments that can help slow the scarring.

Hepatitis C – a disease that is passed through blood-to-blood contact. It is caused by a virus that attacks the liver, causing the liver to become inflamed. There is a cure, but it takes months to complete treatment, has severe side effects, and does not work for everyone.

Hepatitis A – a disease that is similar to the flu.  You get Hepatitis A by eating food containing human waste. People rarely die from it, and there is a vaccine to prevent you from getting it.

Hepatitis B – a disease that is passed through body fluids during sex, through the breast milk of infected mothers, and through contact with contaminated blood. People can die from it, but there is a vaccine to prevent it.

The best way to prevent liver disease is to not abuse alcohol or use illegal drugs.  Only use drugs as prescribed by your doctor, or as indicated on over-the-counter packaging.  Never engage in unprotected sex (unless you and your partner are completely monogamous and have tested negative for all STI’s recently).

If you have not been vaccinated for Hepatitis A and B, talk with your doctor to see if it is right for you. There are treatments and some liver disease is reversible, so talk to your doctor about the choices that are out there.

For most information, check out the American Liver Foundation website: http://www.yourliver.org/learn.html.

If you or a loved one need help for alcoholism or drug addiction, and also suffer from liver disease, Tarzana Treatment Centers in Los Angeles can help.  As part of our commitment to integrated behavioral healthcare, our alcohol and drug treatment program includes primary medical care.  Please call us now at 888-777-8565 or contact us here.

Southern California Locations for Alcohol and Drug Treatment
Tarzana Treatment Centers has locations all over Southern California in Los Angeles County. Other than our central location in Tarzana, we have facilities in Lancaster in the Antelope Valley, Long Beach, and in Northridge and Reseda in the San Fernando Valley.

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