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Alcohol-Induced Cirrhosis of the Liver

answered 01:38 AM EST, Tue August 14, 2012
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anonymous anonymous
My 33 year old brother is a long time heavy drinker. When I saw him yesterday he seemed to have lost quite a lot of weight and his abdomen seemed oddly distended. Am I wrong to assume that these are signs that something is gong seriously wrong with his liver? He is not jaundiced but he looks very unhealthy. He says he is fine but he does not look fine and I am not sure if the family needs to step in and try again to get him to accept some help. We have tried to get him into AA before but he has always denied that he has a problem.

Jeannie Cameron Says...

Jeannie Cameron J. Cameron
MS, NCC, LMHC, CAP
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It is not surprising that your brother continues to deny that he has a problem. The hallmark of addiction is to deny one has a problem. This is why it becomes imperative that intervention takes place. You stated that your family has tried to help him get help in the past to no avail as he refuses to believe he has a problem. If he had a bullet in his head would you still let him dictate his health care? I'm sorry to be so blunt, however, addiction is a brain disease and your brother needs a specialtist. I also wonder if your family will be content after he dies that every thing was done that could be done? if so, then make sure that funeral arrangements are made as the end result of this disease is death. 

Cirrhosis of the liver, especially alcohol induced, is the most serious type of liver disease. It signifies that damage to the liver has already begun and the liver has tried to regenerate only to be replaced with scar and fibrous tissue leaving the liver unfunctional. This process occurs after 10 or more years of heavy alcohol use and the damage is irreversible and life-threatening. However the condition can stabilize IF THE DRINKING IS ARRESTED. 

I suggest the family seek help in al-a-non. Also, I would venture to bet that someone maybe loving your brother to death, not realizing the harm they are really doing him. By raising his bottom and demanding him to seek help or having a doctor intervene to save his life maybe your brother's last shot.

Once the patient becomes part of the solution, and totally abstinent of the drink, treatment can be focused on preventing progression and the complications that arise in advance stages of cirrhosis, with the only option at this point being a liver transplant. I hope that it hasn't progressed to this point, but if this is your brother's life then this will be his fate. Thirty three is so young to face such health challenges. Please know this is beyond your brother's control, and needs to be in the hands of experts. Please seek help from them. Knowledge is power, and when we know better we do better, most of the time.

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Page last updated Aug 14, 2012

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