Alcoholism and Death

What Kills Heavy Drinkers?

In the area of alcoholism and death, liver disease is one of the most common ways people succumb. While it is true that this is not the only fatal cause associated with excessive drinking, it is one of the more prevalent, especially for those who have been drinking for a long time. Alcoholism effects on body organs can be pervasive, but the liver, especially, is subject to major damage.

Three Types of Liver Disease

There are three types of liver disease that are related to excessive alcohol consumption. These processes often move from one to the next and are a main cause of alcoholism and death:

  1. Fatty Liver Disease: This disease occurs when there is an increase of fat cells within the liver. Often there are no symptoms felt by the person who has this problem. This disease process occurs in almost all of those who drink a lot. Once the drinking stops, the condition will usually improve on its own.
  2. Hepatitis: Alcoholic hepatitis is basically an inflammation of the liver. This is a fairly common condition for those who drink heavily. Generally the symptoms of this process include loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain and tenderness, high fever, and jaundice.

    This disease can be progressive, and the alcoholism effects on body organs, especially the liver, can be life threatening if left untreated for too long.
  3. Alcoholic Cirrhosis: This is the most serious type of alcohol related liver disease. The word cirrhosis simply means normal tissue is being replaced with unhealthy scar tissue. It will normally take ten years or more of heavy drinking before this condition presents itself. It has been estimated that somewhere between ten and twenty percent of heavy drinkers will, at some time, develop cirrhosis. Unlike the above alcoholism effects on body organs, the damage from cirrhosis is not reversible. Cirrhosis is one of the major links between alcoholism and death. Because of its severity this health problem needs to be diagnosed and treated as early as possible.

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Diagnosis of Liver Problems

There are many tests available but, in general, blood tests and imaging tests (CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound) are most often performed in order to make a diagnosis. A liver biopsy may also be called for as this is the best means of establishing a solid diagnosis.


Because of the severe link between alcoholism and death, the person must stop drinking before treatments will be of any use. For some patients, changes in diet as well as vitamin supplements will be very useful in treating the alcoholism effects on body organs. Diet and vitamin supplements can go a long way in helping the liver recover. Certain medications may be needed in order to better manage any complications that may have been caused by liver damage. For some, the only treatment option may be a liver transplant.

Another treatment option that is very important is participating in either a group support system, an alcohol recovery program or a treatment center. The importance of these treatment options cannot be discounted as staying sober is crucial to the liver's recovery.

For anyone with advanced liver disease, the link between his or her continued alcoholism and death must be assessed. There is no easy to say it, continued drinking can kill you. Once the alcoholism effects on body organs begins to progress, treatment becomes much more difficult and the prognosis becomes less satisfactory. The first step is to stop drinking immediately as this is vital to any hope of extending your life span. Those who continue to drink after developing liver disease are more likely to suffer a variety of life-threatening health issues.

More than alcoholism and death on our alcoholism stages page

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