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Alcohol & Health
Helping Alcoholics
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Updated on October 30, 2022
6 min read

How Long to Abstain From Alcohol to Repair Liver

How Long Does it Take for the Liver to Repair From Alcohol?

The time frame for liver repair depends on the severity of the damage. If you are still in the early stages of damage, it may take a few days, weeks, or months for your liver to recover.

Unfortunately, liver damage caused by cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease cannot be repaired. Prolonged alcohol misuse (over years) can significantly inhibit your liver’s regenerating ability.

Can a Month of No Alcohol Repair Your Liver?

Avoiding alcohol for a month can help your liver regenerate if the damage done is not too severe. If you have liver damage from drinking alcohol, you should stop drinking for longer than a month.

If treated early, your liver can likely recover from liver damage caused by alcohol. Complete alcohol withdrawal can cure alcoholic hepatitis and fatty liver disease.


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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.

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. 

Here are a few ways you can help your liver heal from alcohol:9

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

How is Liver Damage From Alcohol Treated?

Currently, there are no FDA-approved pharmacological or nutritional therapies to treat alcoholic liver disease.7 If you have fatty liver disease, you should 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. Your doctor might recommend:2

  • Diuretics to eliminate fluid buildup
  • Vitamin K or blood medications to prevent bleeding
  • Antibiotics to treat infections

Healthcare professionals also recommend you get vaccinated to protect your liver from viruses like hepatitis.8 Your doctor may also explore endoscopic treatments if you have enlarged esophagus veins, or they may have to remove any fluid buildup from your abdomen. 

In some cases, the placement of a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) is necessary to decrease portal hypertension, a very serious complication of liver failure. And in severe cases, a liver transplant is also necessary. But this is only possible for those who have successfully stayed away from alcohol for at least six months.2

How Does Alcohol Affect Liver Health?

Alcohol can take a severe toll on your health. For example, alcohol misuse 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. When you drink heavily over a long period, scarring and cirrhosis can occur, this is 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 more alcohol you consume.5

While alcoholic liver disease is common in people between 40 and 50 years old, men are more likely to have it than women. That said, 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 for it.5 Diet, gender, age, race, and co-occurring liver conditions also affect your risk.6

Symptoms of Alcohol-Induced Liver Disease

If you are 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

Of course, it may not be easy to stop drinking if you struggle with alcohol use disorder. Reach out for professional medical advice to safely cut back on 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, and more. All of these can influence the way alcohol affects you.

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). And it can weaken your immune system, leading to many health complications.1

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 a day for women or a maximum of two drinks a day 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 61 million Americans were identified as binge drinkers, and 16 million were classified as heavy alcohol users in 2014.4 Alcohol use disorder can be a deadly disease 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.

Updated on October 30, 2022
9 sources cited
Updated on October 30, 2022
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. Alcohol Abuse.” Harvard Health, 5 Dec. 2014.
  2. Alcohol-Induced Liver Disease.” Johns Hopkins Medicine.
  3. Alcohol-Related Liver Disease.” American Liver Foundation, 13 May 2021.
  4. Alcohol: Balancing Risks and Benefits.” The Nutrition Source, 12 Nov. 2020.
  5. Alcoholic Liver Disease.” Mount Sinai Health System.
  6. Exploring Alcohol’s Effects on Liver Function.” Alcohol, Health and Research World.
  7. Osna, Natalia A, et al. “Alcoholic Liver Disease: Pathogenesis and Current Management.” Alcohol Research : Current Reviews, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2017.
  8. Wynne Armand, MD. “Fatty Liver Disease: What It Is and What to Do about It.” Harvard Health, 2020.
  9. Jung, Y., et al. “Reversal of liver cirrhosis: current evidence and expectations.” The Korean journal of internal medicine, 2017.
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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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