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Alcoholic Liver Disease Up Since COVID

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Category: Advice, Alcohol, Health, Recovery

Heavy drinking habits during the pandemic have led to a sharp increase in the number of Americans waiting on a liver; healthier relaxation methods than alcohol are available to those worried about alcoholic liver disease.

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There may be an increase of alcoholic liver disease.

COVID-19 And Alcoholic Liver Disease

It’s possible that more Americans have alcoholic liver disease and need new livers more than ever before.

The number of people looking for a transplant of the vital organ, which filters blood and processes toxins, is more than 50% higher than pre-pandemic forecasts had anticipated.

Scholars at the University of Michigan may have uncovered the reason why; one researcher, Dr. Maia Anderson, declared that there is, “evidence for an alarming increase in alcoholic hepatitis associated with known increase in alcohol misuse during COVID-19.”

Alcoholic hepatitis is a type of alcoholic liver disease; it is marked by inflammation and cell loss. The other 2 types of alcoholic liver disease, fatty liver (which is more widespread than its counterparts) and alcoholic cirrhosis, are also caused by heavy drinking and may occur with mild or no symptoms.

That means there may be many more American drinkers with alcoholic liver disease than has been documented. Not only that, but there may be far more individuals in need of a liver transplant than even the current numbers indicate. According to NPR, “In the U.S., a widespread clinical practice requires patients with alcoholic liver disease to complete a period of sobriety before they can get on the waiting list for a liver.”

In a sense, the current state of the American supply chain may actually provide an opportunity for sobriety to many – shortages of alcohol are now occurring across the country, driven largely by the same pandemic that coincided with increased alcohol use in the first place.

Low Supply, High Demand Make Alcohol Shortage

There are myriad issues leading to a scarcity of alcohol in various locales around the United States. Shortages of just about everything are cropping up these days — there aren’t enough ships, aren’t enough people willing and able to work docks, and therefore aren’t enough bottles of alcohol coming in from overseas to satiate the demand of the American public.

The alcohol that does make it to the United States from overseas, or the alcohol that is made here to begin with, doesn’t always make it into the hands of the consumer. That’s because there aren’t enough truck drivers to get it there.

In some states, like Virginia, alcohol rationing is taking place; consumers may be able to purchase only 1 bottle of a given spirit per day.

One Virginia resident, Hannah Smith, was directly affected by the situation. Speaking of her pending nuptials, she told the local NBC affiliate for which she works that, “We kind of had to change the menu around because they did not have some of the products we wanted.”

Weddings without alcohol, or at least without the kind of decadent open bar that some may have come to expect, may become more commonplace.

Fortunately, those Americans who want to cut down on drinking — either because they have alcoholic liver disease, are concerned that their habit has grown out of hand, live in a state that has begun rationing, or have another reason altogether — may be aided by the smorgasbord of alcohol-free relaxation techniques now at their disposal.

Hangover-Free Relaxation

Many in this country aren’t drinking because they like the taste, because they’re somehow morally defective, or because they’re big fans of popping a painkiller and nursing a migraine the morning after. Rather, plenty of good and smart and hardworking Americans find themselves drinking far too much in spite of themselves simply because it’s become a habituated way to respond to stress.

Here’s the good news: There are many ways to respond to stress. And some can be far more effective, sustainable, and enjoyable than drinking fermented liquid out of a container.

HuffPost recently recommended a few to their readers: enjoying some favorite food slowly and deliberately was one of them. Finding or making some time to sneak in some light cardio and sunshine (like taking a walk) was another. The outlet also recommended taking time to stretch, breathe, journal, and check in with oneself during the day to make sure one’s needs are being identified and met in a timely and healthy way.

Circling back to one of those methods of alcohol-free relaxation, eating, there are many foods that have specific benefits related to relaxation. Green veggies, complex carbs, probiotic yogurt, and dark chocolate may help to lower the levels of stress-causing hormones circulating in the blood and result in an even-keeled and pleasant mood.

While scarfing down spinach or kale, dark breads, Greek yogurt, and the like may not sound like fun in the short term to many, the health benefits may make it worth it in the long term. And when the unpleasantness of swallowing unfamiliar or unpleasant foods is stacked against the pain of a hangover — or even worse, the potentially disastrous consequences of alcoholic liver disease — the decision-making calculus may shift somewhat.

Of course, those struggling with an alcohol use disorder (or who just find themselves drinking too much) may scoff at the idea of eating better to replace drinking. They may be right. Sometimes, professional help is required to beat an addiction. Luckily, that kind of help is available.

If you or a loved one is drinking too much alcohol, contact a treatment provider today. You can learn about rehab and treatment options and get your questions answered.

Millions of others have.

It’s more than possible, but you need to take the first step. Contact a treatment provider and avoid becoming a statistic — instead, become the best and healthiest version of yourself.

You’re worth it.