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Providing non-judgmental and non-criticizing support for family and friends of end-stage alcoholics through one-on-one coaching, support groups, blog posts, workshops and public speaking.

Monday, January 9, 2012

An extreme simplification...

         I just want to say THANK YOU to everyone who has purchased The WORKBOOK for CARETAKERS of END-STAGE ALCOHOLICS. The proceeds of the workbook will help fund my trip to the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism meeting in Washington DC and other alcoholism related conferences and workshops. Without the proceeds of this book, I would probably not be able to afford to attend any of them. Again – thank you and don’t forget to recommend it to anyone you know who deals with alcoholism.
            The workbook will help you determine the overall condition of your alcoholic, but there are things that it doesn’t cover because to get it all in the volume would be daunting.
            The complications of alcoholism to our organs cause them to function incorrectly or not at all. Each of our body’s organs has a purpose. They are not in there just to fill an empty space like cha-chi’s on the mantel. Every part of our body is used to provide us with the nutrition and oxygen that are vital to our existence.
            The most common organ, and the one that gets the most attention, is the liver. Everyone who has been around an alcoholic knows that alcohol damages the liver. But, do you understand why and how it leads to other complications?
The liver is located in the upper right-hand portion of the abdominal cavity just above the stomach. The liver is supplied blood through the hepatic artery and hepatic portal vein. (“Hepatic” is another word for liver.) All of our body’s blood flows through the liver at some point in time.
            A simplified version of the sequence of digestion is that the stomach digests our food creating blood. The blood goes through the liver where it is “cleansed” by breaking down the fat particles and removing drugs and other toxins. The liver also converts ammonia to urea which ends up in our toilets. It does other things, but these are the most relevant to my explanation.
With the consumption of large quantities of alcohol, the liver cannot cleanse all the toxic substances and creates scarred tissue. The damaged tissue blocks the flow of blood through the portal vein which carries blood from the intestines to the liver. The more scar tissue created the less blood the liver can process. If the liver doesn’t function properly, the affect will be more blood containing toxins, such as plasma ammonia, not being eliminated and then sent on through every part of the body.
Some of these toxins are carried to the brain and deposited in the frontal lobe.
Try to think of it this way – Let’s say you have a farm and on this farm you have some chickens. You are new to the chicken raising thing and don’t know how many eggs you can expect from each chicken. You go out and find the chickens have laid more than a dozen eggs, but your refrigerator only has space for eight. You find a bowl and put the eggs in it and place the bowl in the refrigerator. You think to yourself, you’ll use the eggs in the tray first and move them from the bowl to the tray as space permits. You didn’t anticipate that there would be another dozen eggs the next day. So you put another bowl in the refrigerator. This happens everyday until there is no longer any room for the milk or butter. The eggs have taken over the entire refrigeration.
            It’s the same way in the frontal lobe of the brain. The toxins just keep getting put in there because there’s no place else for them to go. OK – I know – that’s really a very, I mean, VERY, simplified version. Because things get worse as the brain gets overloaded and eventuall the toxins will put out a “no vacancy” sign thereby sending more and more of them back through the body until they can find a home.
As the liver damage increases other diseases develop. The kidneys (also blood cleaners) have to work harder and harder and eventually give up from pure exhaustion.
Everything under the skin is affected because the body is poisoned from all the toxins that now live where healthy blood and organs used to reside.
The liver is a miraculous organ because it can regenerate some potions of itself if the alcoholic ceases ingesting alcohol permanently. However, the scarring will remain and each time alcohol consumption resumes the less time is required for additional scarring to begin.


Gerry said...

Umm, a somewhat frightening picture of what every alcoholic may experience in time. A woman who just died in here had cirrhosis, had quit drinking and been treated, but just died of the effects. I just made a video (on abortion issue) in which Doc became quite sharply critical and quarrelsome. I notice how difficult it is for him to come to logical conclusions which I think is brain deterioration. Since he was gifted with a high I.Q. and many talents, it is hard to see this happen just because of an addiction to a substance. A sure death sentence in time.

jo said...

good simplified version of the liver and alcohol effects on the body.

i have always been told my husband has a very high iq...but you couldnt prove it now. he cant come up with conclusions at all about much of anything.

alcohol is poison, humankind seems to forget that one. no organ in our body can cope with it. it just tries to metabolize it out. eventually , in some, it destroys the cells to the point they wont regenerate.

i knew a woman whose husband quit drinking but died in 6 months from liver failure (a bleed). cirrhosis is permanent. once the liver has turned to scar tissue, it cant regenerate or heal. this impedes the blood flow thru the organ, and blood backs up into other veins...causing the bleeds..

good luck, Gerry. i gave up trying to talk to mine way back.