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Are You Drinking Yourself Into a Liver Transplant?

Hepatitis C has taken a second seat to alcohol-associated liver disease on the liver transplant waiting list, NBC News reports. One reason for the shift is hepatitis has become easier to treat with drugs. Another reason is because doctors have changed their attitudes about who gets a liver transplant and who doesn’t, and subsequently more persons with alcohol use disorder — those who can’t remain sober six months or longer — are getting on the list.

drinking

It’s no secret that alcoholism is epidemic in the U.S., with more than 1 in 8 Americans classified as alcoholic. The increases in alcohol use have been attributed to high-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder (AUD) (or alcohol dependence) in women, older adults, racial/ethnic minorities and people with lower educational level and family income.

As for why alcoholism may be on the rise in these populations, some researchers believe it’s partly because alcohol has become easier to access, while addiction treatment services have remained hard to reach. It's also likely that socioeconomic and mental health issues are playing a role, as people turn to alcohol and other drugs to essentially self-medicate all sorts of problems.

The thing is, most people who drink excessively are not alcoholics. Nor do they even have AUD, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This does not mean that their health isn't being damaged by excessive drinking, however.

If you want to cut back on drinking, exercise is essential. When you drink, it chemically alters your brain to release dopamine, a chemical your brain associates with rewarding behaviors.

When you exercise, this same reward chemical is released, which means you can get a similar "buzz" from working out to that you can get from alcohol. In fact, studies show that exercise is highly effective for someone with AUD.

If and when you do drink alcohol, sip your drink slowly and consume a glass of water afterward. It's a good idea to eat something along with the alcoholic beverage, as if your stomach is empty, it will speed the alcohol's rate of absorption into your body.

Since most alcohol misuse and abuse stems from deep emotional challenges, addressing these issues at a deep level is imperative to avoid the negative health consequences — both physical and mental — that inevitably result from excessive drinking.

The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can be helpful if this is an issue for you. EFT is a form of psychological acupressure, based on the same energy meridians used in traditional acupuncture to treat physical and emotional ailments for over 5,000 years, but without the invasiveness of needles.

Instead, simple tapping with the fingertips is used to input kinetic energy onto specific meridians on the head and chest while you think about your specific problem — whether it is a traumatic event, an addiction or pain — and voice positive affirmations.

And lastly, don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you need it.

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