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Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
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Updated on September 14, 2023
6 min read

How Long Does it Take For Your Liver to Repair Itself?

Repairing Your Liver From Alcohol: Is It Possible?

The liver is one of the more unique organs in your body because it can regenerate. As a self-healing organ, your liver can recover from alcohol damage.

If alcohol-related liver disease is caught early, it may be treatable. However, severe liver damage may be irreversible and lead to long-term health complications.


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How Long to Abstain from Alcohol to Repair Liver

Avoiding alcohol for a month can help your liver regenerate. However, this time frame depends on the severity of the damage.

If treated early, your liver can likely recover from the damage that alcohol caused. Completely stopping alcohol consumption can cure alcoholic hepatitis and fatty liver disease.

However, the liver damage that cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease cause is irreversible. Years of prolonged alcohol misuse can significantly inhibit your liver’s regenerating ability.

How Does Alcohol Affect Liver Health?

Alcohol can take a severe toll on your health. For example, chronic alcohol consumption can damage your liver and cause alcoholic liver disease.5

Alcoholic liver disease is a health condition that can occur after years of heavy drinking. Heavy alcohol consumption over a long period can cause scarring and cirrhosis. These mark the final phase of alcoholic liver disease.5

Not everyone who misuses alcohol will develop alcoholic liver disease. However, your chances increase the longer you drink and the heavier your alcohol consumption is.5

Risk Factors for Developing Alcoholic Liver Disease

While alcoholic liver disease is common in people between 40 and 50 years old, men are more likely to have it than women. Women may develop alcoholic liver disease with less exposure to alcohol than men. Anyone with a family history of liver disease is at a higher risk.

Other risk factors include:6

  • Diet
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Race
  • Co-occurring liver conditions

Symptoms of Alcohol-Induced Liver Disease

If you’re concerned that you may have alcoholic liver disease, your doctor will likely perform a blood test, take a liver biopsy, and perform a function test of your liver.5 They may also run other tests to rule out other possible health conditions.

If you do indeed have alcoholic liver disease, symptoms will vary depending on the severity of it. Generally, the symptoms of alcohol-induced liver disease include:5

  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Dry mouth and thirst
  • Fatigue
  • Jaundice (the yellowing of the skin)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Red feet and/or hands
  • Spider-like veins in the chest, face, and abdomen
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Dark or bloody stool
  • Frequent nose bleeds
  • Bleeding gums
  • Blood in vomitus
  • Fluid buildup in the legs (also known as edema)
  • Fluid buildup in the abdomen (also known as ascites)
  • Easy bruising
  • Mood swings
  • Confusion
  • Pain in the arms and legs
  • Numbness and/or tingling in the arms and legs
  • Agitation

If you suffer from liver damage, you should quit drinking alcohol completely.5 It may be difficult to stop drinking if you struggle with alcohol use disorder. 

Seek professional medical advice to safely reduce or quit your alcohol intake. Addiction treatment from licensed medical professionals is available.


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Types of Alcohol-Induced Liver Conditions

Alcohol misuse can lead to three types of liver conditions:

  1. Alcoholic hepatitis: Alcoholic hepatitis refers to the swelling and inflammation of your liver. Acute inflammation of the liver can result in the death of liver cells, and permanent scarring often follows.6
  2. Fatty liver disease: Alcohol misuse can also lead to fatty liver disease, which refers to excess fat buildup in the liver.3 This is a reversible condition with alcohol abstinence.
  3. Cirrhosis: Over time, prolonged alcohol consumption can lead to scarring and cirrhosis of the liver. Damage caused by cirrhosis, including scar tissue, may be irreversible.5

Up to 35 percent of people with alcohol-induced liver damage develop alcoholic hepatitis, Meanwhile, between 10 and 20 percent of them develop cirrhosis.3


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How Long Does it Take Your Body to Heal From Alcohol?

How long it takes your body to heal from alcohol depends on a few factors, including:

  • How much and how often you drink
  • How chronic your alcohol use is
  • Your age, weight, gender

The amount of time your body requires to heal also depends on the damage alcohol has done. Heavy drinking can damage your liver, stomach, brain, heart, and entire central nervous system. 

Continued alcohol use increases your risk of several cancers (mouth, throat, larynx, esophagus, and, for women, breast cancer). It can also weaken your immune system, leading to many health complications.1

How is Liver Damage From Alcohol Treated?

There are no FDA-approved pharmacological or nutritional therapies to treat alcoholic liver disease.7 If you have alcoholic fatty liver disease, stop drinking alcohol and eat a healthy, low-salt diet. Lifestyle changes are critical for liver repair.8

You should also talk to your healthcare provider about medications and treatments. Your doctor might recommend:2,8

  • Diuretics: These eliminate fluid buildup
  • Vitamin K or blood medications: These prevent bleeding
  • Antibiotics: These treat infections
  • Vaccinations: These protect your liver from viruses like hepatitis
  • Endoscopic treatments: These address enlarged esophagus veins or remove fluid buildup in your abdomen
  • Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS): This decreases portal hypertension, a very serious complication of liver failure

In severe cases, a liver transplant is necessary. But this procedure is only possible for those who have successfully stayed away from alcohol for at least six months.2

Other ways you can help your liver heal from alcohol include:9

  • Quit drinking
  • Exercise regularly
  • Make healthier lifestyle choices
  • Avoid medications that can damage the liver (i.e., acetaminophen)
  • Avoid drugs and other toxins (i.e., aerosol sprays and spray paints)

How Much Alcohol Is Too Much?

How much alcohol is too much varies from person to person. Various factors play into how alcohol affects different people, including age, weight, gender, and more. 

To avoid drinking too much alcohol, you should drink in moderation. Generally, this means no more than one drink daily for women and two for men.1

Struggling With Alcohol Misuse or Alcoholism?

If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol use disorder, know the signs and seek professional help. You are not alone.

About 29.5 million Americans were diagnosed with an alcohol use disorder in 2020.4 Alcohol use disorder can be deadly if you don’t treat it.

Symptoms of Alcohol Use Disorder

The symptoms of alcohol use disorder generally include:1

  • Drinking more than you should
  • Drinking to escape reality or as a coping mechanism
  • Drinking alone often
  • Craving alcohol often
  • Needing to drink more and more to achieve the same effects
  • Continuing to drink despite the physical, mental, emotional, and financial tolls it takes
  • Allowing alcohol to interfere with relationships and/or obligations to loved ones and work
  • Difficulty cutting back on alcohol intake
  • Frequent failed attempts to quit drinking
  • Engaging in risky behavior
  • Experiencing personality changes when drinking

Treatment Options for Alcohol Use Disorder

If you or someone you know is dealing with alcohol use disorder, you do not have to navigate the road to recovery alone. Treatment options are available, including:1

Consult your primary care physician and mental health professionals about the best treatment options for you. And get help before it’s too late.


Liver damage from alcohol can range from mild to severe. Although the liver naturally regenerates, serious conditions like alcohol-related liver disease may require medical intervention.

Besides understanding the symptoms of liver disease, it’s also vital to watch out for the risk of alcohol dependence. Curing a case of AUD must occur together with fixing liver damage.

Updated on September 14, 2023
9 sources cited
Updated on September 14, 2023
All Alcoholrehabhelp content is medically reviewed or fact checked to ensure as much factual accuracy as possible.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only link to reputable media sites, academic research institutions and, whenever possible, medically peer reviewed studies.
  1. Harvard Health Publishing. “Alcohol Abuse.” Harvard Medical School, 2014.
  2. Alcohol-Induced Liver Disease.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, n.d.
  3. Alcohol-Related Liver Disease.” American Liver Foundation, 2023.
  4. United States Department of Health and Human Services. “SAMHSA Announces National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) Results Detailing Mental Illness and Substance Use Levels in 2021.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2023.
  5. Alcoholic Liver Disease.” Mount Sinai Health System, n.d.
  6. Maher, J. “Exploring Alcohol’s Effects on Liver Function.” Alcohol, Health and Research World, 1997.
  7. Osna et al. “Alcoholic Liver Disease: Pathogenesis and Current Management.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2017.
  8. Armand, W. “Fatty Liver Disease: What It Is and What to Do about It.” Harvard Health Publishing, 2020.
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All content created by Alcohol Rehab Help is sourced from current scientific research and fact-checked by an addiction counseling expert. However, the information provided by Alcohol Rehab Help is not a substitute for professional treatment advice.
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