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Your Healthy Family: Liver transplants on the rise during pandemic due to heavy drinking

Posted at 7:24 AM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 07:30:12-04

A new study shows the need for liver transplants soared during this pandemic because of heavy drinking. Researchers said this highlights the need to do more to stop excessive alcohol use.

The study, published in JAMA Network Open, said a rise in retail alcohol sales during the pandemic is being linked to an increase in the number of people needing a liver transplant.

"I think a lot of people just use alcohol to cope. They use it to feel better," Brad Lander, the Clinical Director of Addiction Medicine at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center, said.

Researchers said from March 2020 to January 2021, researchers said 51,488 more people were put on a waiting list for a liver. In that same time period, 32,320 liver transplants were done because of alcoholic hepatitis.

"We glamorize, we glorify alcohol use. A lot of our social events are associated with alcohol, and we even glorify getting drunk," Lander said.

Lander has worked with people who struggle with addiction for nearly 35 years. He says our country needs to make alcohol less accessible.

"The easier to get the alcohol, the more people tend to drink, because you don't have to put any real effort to it," he said.

Lander also said more people need to be educated about the dangers of excessive drinking, and there needs to be more emphasis on social activities that don't involve alcohol.