What Is Chronic Liver Disease?

Chronic liver disease occurs when the scar tissue replaces healthy tissue in the body’s liver. Chronic liver disease is the 12th leading cause of death in the United States. There was a 65% liver disease increase in deaths due to chronic liver disease between 1999 and 2016. The reason is mainly due to alcohol consumption, and currently 40% of Americans over drink.The liver is one of the body’s main filtering systems.

Noteworthy functions of the liver are removing waste from the body, producing amino acids, producing blood clots, making new proteins, and producing bile for digestion. Additionally, it metabolizes medications into the ingredient needed for wellness in the body. People experience muscle loss, itching, weight loss and kidney failure with the progression of liver disease.

If the liver doesn’t work as it should due to chronic liver disease, it causes ill effects throughout the body. Effects can range from jaundice, high blood pressure, and a swollen abdomen, among others. Even more severe symptoms can develop if the liver disease is extreme; the liver can be severely damaged and stop working, resulting in a number of toxins in the blood. Sufferers can even die from complications from chronic liver disease such as liver cancer.

Need Addiction Support?

It’s time to reclaim your life from addiction. Call now to connect with a treatment provider and start your recovery journey.

- OR -

Enter your phone number to receive a call:

What Causes Chronic Liver Disease?

Common causes of chronic liver disease are:

  • Infection
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Exposure to toxic chemicals
  • Blocked or damaged tubes
  • Hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E
  • Episodes of heart failure
  • Viruses
  • High cholesterol
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Parasitic infection
  • Certain medications
  • Heredity

Paid Advertising. We receive advertising fees from purchases through the BetterHelp links below.

Online Counseling for Alcohol Addiction

Online therapy can help you with long term addiction support. Start your therapy journey with BetterHelp.

Get Matched
Begin Therapy
  • Personalized Matching Process
  • Easy Online Scheduling
  • 20,000+ Licensed Therapists


Heavy Alcohol Use And The Stages Of Chronic Liver Disease

Although people can get liver disease from many of the listed reasons, most of the time, chronic liver disease stems from alcoholism. It usually takes at least 8 years of heavy drinking for someone to develop chronic liver disease, although the exact timeline can be more or less. The doctor must diagnose the patient’s liver disease with a blood test or a liver biopsy, as liver disease has few symptoms initially.

In diagnosing the patient, the doctor can determine the severity of the liver disease. There are 4 different stages of alcohol-related liver disease, producing different results:

  • Initial stages/ mild fibrosis
  • Alcoholic hepatitis/moderate inflammation
  • Cirrhosis
  • End stage liver disease

Initial Stages/Mild Fibrosis

The initial stages of liver disease include mild fibrosis of the liver disease through scarring of the liver. This is often caused by alcohol, although other health conditions can produce liver disease. As a result, the liver malfunctions, and the person experiences discomfort.

Alcoholic Hepatitis

In the second stage, called “the alcoholic hepatitis” phase, the person suffers inflammation of the liver. The cells of the liver are destroyed by the heavy amounts of alcohol the person has consumed over time. Roughly 35% of heavy drinkers go through this phase of liver disease, and also develop:

  • Jaundice
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain
  • Liver scarring/fibrosis


Cirrhosis is a condition of scarring on the liver, which can worsen over time. This condition can occur from type 2 diabetes, in men, people older than 50, and alcohol abusers. There are 200,000 annual cases of cirrhosis in the U.S. Percentage-wise, 10% to 20% of heavy drinkers eventually get cirrhosis.

Cirrhosis is characterized by scarring of the liver. Consequently, the liver fails to work properly. Fibrosis begins to form in the liver. Portal hypertension, another complication from cirrhosis, is scar tissue blocking the flow of blood in the liver; hence the onset of high blood pressure in the portal vein.

Will My Insurance Cover Rehab?

Check My Coverage

Alcohol Rehab Guide is not affiliated with any insurance.

End Stage Liver Disease

Cirrhosis can be life threatening if not treated, and can increase the risk of infection from other potentially fatal conditions. Most prominently, cirrhosis can lead to liver failure and liver cancer. Liver cancer results from the spreading of unhealthy cells in the liver. Liver failure denotes lack of liver functions. The individuals suffering this may experience fatigue, diarrhea, confusion, excess bleeding, and death. If someone is enduring the pain of liver failure, don’t hesitate to get medical care.

Get Help Now

Alcoholism can create many destructive health effects, damaging the liver and other parts of the body. If you or someone you love is experiencing chronic liver disease, it is of the utmost importance that treatment is sought immediately. Ending the cycle of alcoholism begins with reaching out for help. Contact a treatment provider to find the path to healing your alcohol use disorder today.

Will My Insurance Cover Rehab?

Check My Coverage

Make a decision that will change your life.

Find a Treatment Center

Get help for alcoholism today.

If you or a loved one is ready to overcome an alcohol addiction, reach out today. Treatment providers can connect you with programs that provide the tools to help you get and stay sober.