Los Angeles, California -
Los Angeles, CA - Alcohol consumption rose sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic. So did the number of people seeking liver transplants due to alcoholic hepatitis, leading the authors of a recent study on liver transplants to suspect a link between the two and call for more treatment for people struggling with alcohol abuse and addiction.
“This study provides evidence for an alarming increase in (alcoholic hepatitis) associated with increasing alcohol misuse during COVID-19 and highlights the need for public health interventions around excessive alcohol consumption,” wrote the University of Michigan researchers, whose study was published in JAMA Network Open.
Although they cautioned that they couldn’t prove the increased consumption caused the spike in demand for liver transplants – 50 percent higher than before the pandemic – they did find a correlation between the two.
Alcoholic hepatitis is a potentially deadly condition in which the liver becomes overloaded with alcohol and stops processing it. As a result, the organ deteriorates and eventually stops functioning.
In their study, the Michigan researchers took the number of patients added to the waiting list for U.S. organ transplants during the pandemic, from March 2020 to January 2021. Next, they compared this number with pre-pandemic predictions of the number who would request transplants. Finally, they correlated the numbers with the retail alcohol sales figures between January 2016 and January 2021. They found that the rising alcohol sales, indicating that people were drinking more, correlated to the spike in liver transplant requests.
Their connection of the three statistics is supported by other studies which have found a rise in alcohol consumption during the pandemic – as many as one in five Americans reported an increase – compared to pre-pandemic levels. In addition, respondents told surveyors they were drinking to escape the stress and anxiety of the pandemic.
In the wake of these concerning new findings, Muse Addiction Treatment Center in Los Angeles is sounding the alarm that turning to alcohol as a means to cope with stress is dangerous. They urge anyone concerned about their own drinking or that of a loved one to seek help before long-term damage sets in. Alcohol addiction is especially dangerous because detox and withdrawal from alcohol can be life-threatening if not conducted under medical supervision. At Muse, clients can access all levels of care from medically assisted detox through inpatient and outpatient rehab, sober living, and aftercare. They learn new healthier strategies for dealing with the life struggles that led them to find solace in alcohol.
A foundation of Muse’s program is the belief that substance use disorders are often a symptom of an underlying mental health issue rather than the primary condition. Many clients receive what’s called a “dual diagnosis”. This form of treatment seeks to get to the root causes of addiction and treats the addiction and mental health conditions simultaneously for more lasting sobriety.
Anyone in need of help for alcohol abuse or any other form of substance use disorder can speak to a treatment specialist at any time by calling 866-336-9037. Visit www.musetreatment.com to learn more.
SOURCE: Press Advantage [Link]