If you do not have liver disease, an occasional alcoholic drink probably won't cause cirrhosis. In fact, moderate drinking may even offer protective benefits such as lowering your risk of gallstones and heart attack, among other conditions. However, heavy drinking (defined as having five or more drinks a day) is known to cause cirrhosis. This can develop into alcoholic liver disease.
If you have an existing liver disease, such as chronic hepatitis, you are at increased risk for developing cirrhosis if you drink alcohol. Drinking alcohol may also increase your risk of developing hepatocellular cancer.
If you already have cirrhosis or if you have chronic hepatitis, it is important to avoid alcohol.
Dienstag, JL. "Chronic Hepatitis." Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine 17e. 2008.
Mukamal KJ. Risks and Benefits of Alcohol. UpToDate. Accessed: October 30, 2009.