Quitting Alcohol Can Produce Positive Outcomes Even During Advanced Illness

Sober man visiting a doctor

Even for people suffering serious harm from long-term alcohol use, it’s never too late to quit. Further research shows that people who quit alcohol, even if they’re already very sick, experience immense health benefits from quitting.

New Findings Inspire Hope for Alcohol Addicts

A team of Austrian researchers analyzed the health information of 320 patients with alcohol-related liver cirrhosis, following the patients and studying their health condition for three years. Three-quarters of the patients did not drink alcohol during the study period, and one-quarter did. Two critical findings were produced as a result of the study:

  • Health complications resulting from alcohol-related liver cirrhosis occurred less frequently among the patients who did not drink than among those who did.
  • The patients who abstained from alcohol were less likely to die than those who drank.

The conclusion? Even patients with advanced alcohol-related diseases and serious health complications can improve their health outcomes and live longer if they get help for their addiction and stop using alcohol. Study co-author Dr. Benedikt Hofer, a specialist in gastroenterology and hepatology at the Medical University of Vienna, spoke to this point. He said, “Our results clearly show that all patients with alcohol-related liver cirrhosis who maintain sustained abstinence from alcohol not only suffer complications of liver cirrhosis significantly less frequently but also live considerably longer.” To arrive at this finding, the researchers not only monitored all 320 patients closely and observed their health outcomes for 36 months, but they also performed extensive medical tests and evaluations on the patients. Test results consistently showed better outcomes for longer health for those who abstained compared to those who continued to drink.

The study authors noted that even among alcohol-related liver cirrhosis patients who stopped drinking, their health was still somewhat precarious, requiring monitoring and ongoing care. The researchers showed that people suffering liver cirrhosis, a serious yet common illness from alcohol consumption, were less likely to experience extreme or even fatal health outcomes if they stopped drinking than if they continued drinking.

It’s Never too Late to Get Off Drugs and Alcohol

Man is sitting with a sick alcoholic father

Alcohol-related liver disease is the leading cause of liver-related mortality. According to one source, alcohol-related liver disease is responsible for about 25,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, comparable to the number of deaths that occur from stroke, HIV, or type 1 diabetes. Alcohol-related liver disease is thought to be responsible for about one-third of all alcohol-related fatalities.

While alcohol-related liver disease is perhaps the most obvious and well-known effect of alcohol abuse, numerous other areas of the human body experience serious harm from alcohol consumption. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol consumption produces long-term harm to the brain, heart, and pancreas. Further, alcohol consumption reduces the immune response and increases one’s risk for cancer (head and neck cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer).

The findings outlined above serve as a reminder of how it is never too late to get help for drug and alcohol addiction. Even if an addict feels as though their body is “too far gone” and there is no point in trying to get help, the research around alcohol-related liver disease suggests even people who are suffering extremely severe health complications from years of alcohol abuse can still experience physiological benefits from getting help and ceasing alcohol consumption.

If you know someone who is using alcohol and who cannot stop using it, please do everything you can to get them into a residential alcohol addiction treatment center. Please don’t wait until it is too late.


  • CGH. “Alcohol Abstinence Improves Prognosis Across All Stages of Portal Hypertension in Alcohol-Related Cirrhosis.” Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 2022. cghjournal.org
  • USNews. “Even in Advanced Liver Disease, It’s Never Too Late to Quit Alcohol.” U.S. News, 2022. usnews.com
  • Keck. “Alcohol Misuse and Alcoholic Liver Disease.” Keck School of Medicine of USC, 2022. keck.usc.edu
  • NIAAA. “Alcohol’s Effects on the Body.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2022. niaaa.nih.gov


Editorial Staff