Drug Abuse and Its Effects on the Liver

Drug Addiction Facts

Drug abuse and its effects on the liver are less known than the effects of alcohol abuse, but they can damage the organ in the same way. It would surprise you how simple it is. Upon ingesting or absorbing substances into the bloodstream, the liver breaks them down and filters out the toxins so the body can absorb healthy nutrients.

Our livers work overtime to remove the poison from our body whenever we ingest excessive amounts of toxins, interfering with their normal function. Few things cause the same amount of metabolic waste to build up in the body as drug abuse does. This post describes the effects of substance abuse on the liver.

Effects of Alcohol on the Liver

Alcohol is broken down in the liver and excreted in the urine. Free radicals and acetaldehyde produced by this process may contribute to liver damage. Moderate consumption does not bother the liver, but prolonged and chronic abuse of alcohol can damage the liver significantly. Visit this site to learn more about rehab Alabama (https://impactrecoverycenter.net/).

The most common complications of excessive alcohol consumption are Alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis.

Alcoholic Hepatitis

Hepatitis caused by alcohol, which is commonly associated with heavy drinking, often occurs along with cirrhosis and is most often found in people aged 40-60 years old. Acute alcoholism is fatal for 30-50% of those infected.

Alcoholic hepatitis can affect the liver in the following ways:

  • Enlarged liver
  • Jaundice
  • Pain in the right upper quadrant
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fever

The liver develops pathological fat accumulation due to alcoholic steatohepatitis in individuals with alcoholic hepatitis. Poor nutrition results in the increased production of fatty acids.

There are several complications associated with alcoholic hepatitis.

  • Kidney failure
  • Portal hypertension
  • Hepatic encephalopathy – This is brain dysfunction due to liver damage and accumulation of toxins in the blood
  • Deficient clotting mechanisms leading to bleeding issues

Hepatitis afflicted patients are more vulnerable to infectious diseases such as;

  • Bacterial pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Bacterial peritonitis

Alcohol abusers are more likely to contract hepatitis C, an infection that causes inflammation of the liver. Untreated chronic hepatitis C can cause liver cancer and liver damage.


Cirrhosis is a condition characterized by the scarring of the liver, which obstructs the flow of blood and bile and impairs its functions. With cirrhosis of the liver, the damage is irreversible, but an early diagnosis can minimize the harm.

Cirrhosis symptoms include the following.

  • Nausea
  • Mental confusion
  • Abdomen swelling (peritoneal ascites)
  • Weight loss
  • Itching
  • Swelling of limbs (peripheral edema)
  • Fatigue
  • Hand tremor (asterixis)
  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes)

Drug-Induced Liver Injury (Dili)

Taking drugs, nutritional supplements, medicinal herbs, or plants can cause drug-induced liver damage (DILI). Damage can sometimes go undetected because there are no symptoms.

There are some drugs whose effects on the liver are predictable and dose-dependent, such as acetaminophen (also known as Tylenol). However, there are others whose effects are unpredictable and unrelated to the dose. DILI occurs within three months after drug initiation, though it can occur within just a few hours or for up to a year.

Drug-Induced Hepatitis

DILI symptoms include inflammatory hepatitis, which occurs when the liver becomes inflamed by drugs. Various types of drugs can lead to this condition.

Here are a few examples of medications that can cause drug-induced hepatitis.

  • Birth control pills
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs:
  • Ibuprofen
  • Diclofenac
  • Naproxen
  • Acetaminophen (found in medications like Vicodin and Percocet that reduce fevers)

Even in moderate doses, these drugs can cause drug-induced hepatitis. When taking medications, take them as prescribed and do not drink alcohol.

A physician will probably tell you to stop taking the medication as soon as possible if you have drug-induced hepatitis or liver damage caused by drugs. In cases of excessive consumption, medical treatment is required to ease the symptoms.

Read Also: Drug Addiction Facts

Drug Abuse and Its Effects on the Liver

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