Quitting drinking, am I too late?


I'm a 32 year old male, who's drank heavily since the age of 15.

The only definitive answer to my question would have to come from a doctor, but having found this forum, I see no harm in asking those who may have first hand experience from the patients perspective.

I've decided it's time to stop drinking. Completely.

With the exception of my alcohol issues, I'm not in a terrible place. I have my own home, a reasonable job and a stable, long term relationship. I've never known why I drink as much as I do. I'm not aware that I'm drinking to forget, or escape from anything, I'm not depressed (certainly no more than anyone else I know). I think it's exactly this that has been the wakeup call. There is no reason for the way I drink...full stop, so why do it?

Anyway, rambling here.

Essentially, I have deep concerns about what 17 years of heavy drinking has done to my innards, particularly and rather obviously, my liver.

I've been able to FEEL my liver for years, not so much pain, just aware of its presence. I have in the past experienced extreme Liver pain following bouts of heavy drinking. It has however always subsided after a day or two.

I had a liver function test a few years back and it came back fine.

I've looked up the symptoms of liver damage and other than the pain associated with it, I've never exhibited any of the other symptoms.

What are peoples thoughts? Is it likely I've done irreparable damage? Should it recover with time and abstinence?

Any advice or reassurance would be greatly appreciated.

14 Replies

  • how much were you drinking?

    i stopped at 38, did really start drinking regular until around early 20s and was a weekend warrior. started to drink more from 29-38. Probably about 40-60 units a week. I have had 3 sets of blood tests, ultrasound and a Fibroscan, all clear, a little bit of fat above normal on the Fibroscan.

    Pain in the Liver is never a good thing, it could be just some fat build up after a heavy session. Having your clear blood test is a good starting point but it doesnt give the whole picture.

    The Liver can take a battering and recover, you can get to F2 scarring and it will recover.

  • I guess if I averaged it out, around 30-50 units a week. It wasn't the norm that I would drink 2 days consecutively.. Usual intake would be 4-6 beers or ciders a night, at least 4 nights a week. More at weekends. I rarely drank spirits, only small quantities when I did.

    I guess I'm trying to ascertain how likely it is that I have done significant damage.

    I'm aware there are people that have drank more and got away with it and those who have drank less and suffered problems.

    Thanks for your input. Much appreciated.

  • The only way forward is to bite the bullet and go to the doctors. it depends how long you have been doing this, but its would be pretty rare for someone to get serious Liver problems on 40 units unless they were on drugs long term.

  • Never been on long term medication and apart from inhaling a bit of mother nature when I was a teenager, I've never been into the recreational stuff.

    Thanks for the info. Very reassuring.

  • actually..A close friend I grew up passed away from this 3 years ago..right after I was diagnosed..she could not get a transplant, as she had drank 2ce while on the list..she was 41 and had been sick for 7 years and I knew a girl in the states, on another forum..she was 27 and died waiting on a transplant..she was an alcoholic. Not to disregard what you say..it is rare..but it does happen..

  • Maybe some CBT Cognitive Behaviour Therapy or counselling would get to the bottom of the drinking. Even if your liver results are ok, it's bound to be better for your overall health to stop than to continue. Think of all the money you will save and all that sugar you will no longer consume, great for your waistline and great for stopping future problems like diabetes, heart disease etc.

  • Heart health is indeed my other concern. There is a history of heart problems in my family. But again, had some checks about a year ago and apart from high blood pressure (I was a smoker at the time, so I blame that) All seemed ok.

    Thanks for the comment.

  • I was getting pains in my Liver when I drank alcohol and last month was diagnosed with a very fatty Liver so I am now on a strict diet and no alcohol. -x-

  • I must admit, my diet over the last few months has been pretty poor, I used to be very nutrition conscious, but it seems to have lapsed. I've put it down to my partner working late shifts and me not seeing the point in cooking for one.

    Perhaps this has been a contributing factor. Another change to make!


  • It may be worth bearing in mind that the LFT doesn't always give a good result alone and a full range of tests is preferable. Following several years of itching, gynomastia, tiredness, weight loss and eventually black stools and vomiting blood, I got fed up of the GP saying it was gastroenteritis and asked for the LFT, this came back as clear and a few weeks later, I was in hospital following a near fatal bleed having lost 2 ltrs of blood with Cryptogenic, end stage liver disease. I wasn't even a heavy drinker.

    Sorry for going on, my point is that you shouldn't always trust your GP or indeed the LFT alone, if you're in any doubt at all, ask to see a specialist. Always a good idea to stop drinking though if you're concerned. Good luck buddy.

  • I do hope you have a different GP now? Mine was already testing me for anything and everything when I began to regularly vomit blood, and I was admitted straight to hospital when it became clear that the situation wasn't going to change in spite of having given up drinking a couple of months previously. I'm lucky to be alive - and healthy - a year later.

    I'm truly sorry you went through what I went through, when in your case it's clear that it could have been avoided if your GP had only listened to you x

  • Hi. It sounds to me as though the "pain" you feel after drinking is psychosomatic as opposed to physical: you have a healthy concern for your liver, and so it's quite possibly that concern - and guilt - that makes your liver appear to hurt. If your liver function is fine, then there's no physical reason for this pain you feel after a few too many.

    It's wonderful that you wish to give up drinking though; people are being diagnosed with cirrhosis in their twenties these days and I'm glad you care enough about yourself to not be the one in his early thirties whose life changes forever in some of the most unpleasant ways possible.

    I was supposed to die a year ago, after my misspent youth and continued regular drinking caught up with me and I ended up in high dependancy care, where I needed two blood transfusions in order to stabilise me and save my life. I had given up drinking two months previously.

    With a salt free diet and plenty of water I've made it back (I also had my stomach drained of ascites - which is an unpleasant experience when it has to be done and not something I would wish on anybody). My liver will never be completely healthy again, but some of that is to do with my epilepsy medication (and my health team are going to be far more religious about the regular blood tests I was supposed to be having for that in the future) and for me scarring is minimal. I am now at a stage where I'm in perfect health (for someone with epilepsy) and you would never guess at how ill I'd been.

    I really must stress, though, that my medical team believe I'm Wolverine or something, as I seem to be bomb-proof and I returned from a place that most don't come back from without a transplant - which I am not in need of. I have been incredibly lucky; I'm even called the "miracle patient" by my liver specialist.

    So I can't tell you it's never too late to stop drinking, as for many there is a point reached in which it is. You, however, are in a healthy place where you can quit any time and avoid cirrhosis completely.

    Good luck :)

  • Thank you all for your replies, I'm feeling very reassured. I'm into my second week of abstinence now and feeling better already.

    I've not yet been for any medical checks to see if damage has been done. But based on your comments and the way I'm feeling, I'm fairly confident I've dodged a bullet here...

    I think I've made this choice at the right time, as reading over posts on this site has made me realise that whilst our bodies are amazingly resilient, we shouldn't test them.

    Thanks for the support.

    I wish you all well.

  • hi there..well, what I can tell you is that many years is enough to do some damage..you SHOULD see a doctor..just to be safe. A complete check up can't hurt if you drank a lot for years. and it's never too late to quit..I stopped at 411..and good thing I did, it was killing me.

    Here's what's interesting though..people will say, the liver regenerates itself..and it does..to a certain point..but for me..I was completely clean and sober for 3.5 years. I knew I had Hep C but had NEVER been sick from it, and that there had been a doctor who said I might have the earliest stages of cirrhosis, but again, never was sick. and I assumed, like most people do, all was well..I had my liver functions checked and they said, hey..looks great! then 13 months later..I got sick..and fast..and then it was too late. I was stunned..how could this be? I got sober!! I was fine, they told me so!

    In those 13 months the Hep C started going after my liver and that was all she wrote.

    Now, I am NOT saying this to scare you, at all..In fact, you are probably fine..you are still very young, and your making a really good choice. (I know, for me, personally, joining a 12 step program also helped me stay stopped and improved my outlook on life in general..it also showed my WHY I drank..and helped me to get that stuff sorted)

    Today I am so blessed..I am on the transplant list and getting amazing care at Addenbrookes hospital..but I do think, if you drank heavy and it was for 15 years..just having a check up is smart..People do not realize what alcohol does to the body..I mean it's like poison..literally.

    Good luck, and I hope to see you posting great things about your doctors check up!!

    cheering you and your sobriety on! :)

    p.s. don't worry about the how and why of your drinking right now..just stop..you'll find, if you are an alcoholic, your consequences will get worse and worse..None of us started off homeless or penniless..Many of us came from great homes and situations..I didn't always know why I drank in the beginning either..I just knew I couldn't stop..Its because we are built differently, on the inside..physically and mentally and emotionally. It's a disease..has nothing to do with willpower or being a good person. When I quit I owned my own company and still had plenty of money..but I was dead..inside. (If that makes any sense!) I hope you do not have to reach that point..

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