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A Hepatitis Necessity: Quitting Alcohol

Nicole Cutler L.Ac. February 20, 2013

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There is no question about alcohol’s detrimental effect on the liver, especially a liver with hepatitis. If someone with hepatitis wants a chance of recovering from his or her illness, abstaining from drinking alcohol is the number one step. However, many people need help to achieve sobriety.
A Hepatitis Necessity: Quitting Alcohol

The most important change for anyone diagnosed with hepatitis is the complete elimination of alcohol from his or her life. Whether the cause is alcohol (alcoholic hepatitis), a virus or an autoimmune disease, drinking just a bit of alcohol exponentially deteriorates the health of a liver struggling with hepatitis. Even though alcohol is the single worst thing to imbibe when living with hepatitis, it can also be one of the hardest things to quit.

Who Is Affected?

Some who learn they have hepatitis are able to abandon booze right away. For those individuals who don’t have an alcohol problem – hoorah. According to researcher Bridget F. Grant, chief of the Laboratory of Epidemiology and Biometry at the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “At some time in a person’s life, 30 percent of the population in the United States will develop alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse.” This means that for approximately one in every three Americans, quitting alcohol could pose a really big challenge.

Any population can be involved with alcohol abuse or dependence: professionals, teenagers, homeless people, celebrities, senior citizens and everyone in between. While choosing to abstain from alcohol for someone dependant on it requires multiple steps and total commitment, this life-saving decision is within anyone’s capability.

Biology

According to the scientific community, alcohol addiction goes beyond emotional dependence issues. Research has demonstrated that a person’s reliance on alcohol use is complex, with several biological factors contributing to the problem.

  • Based on research from the University of Illinois at Chicago, scientists discovered that a specific gene makes someone more prone to alcohol dependence.
  • As reported in the May 2004 issue of Journal of Neuroscience, those born with a certain gene have an increased likelihood of living with high levels of anxiety. This anxiety makes them more likely to have a problem with alcohol addiction.
  • With repeated exposure, the brain’s reward system (the ventral tegmental area, extended amygdala and the nucleus accumbens) adapts to alcohol use. This results in a person only feeling good after alcohol consumption.

These biological factors make alcohol abstinence harder for some, but it is still possible.

Stopping

If there was just one surefire way to help someone abandon booze, then it wouldn’t be such a huge problem in our society. Different approaches to quitting work for different people, so it is important to find what works best for you. Even though experts don’t necessarily agree on how to go about it, everyone confers that someone with hepatitis must do it. Some of the tools needed for a person dependant on alcohol to quit, include:

  • Realization and Commitment – The first step to quitting alcohol is realizing that only you can control your behavior. Once you’ve made the decision to quit, make it your top priority by planning on how to succeed.
  • Involve Your Doctor – A physician can be a powerful ally for quitting alcohol. These days there are various ways a doctor can help you make the transition from drinker to non-drinker. Heavy drinkers can experience severe, potentially lethal withdrawal symptoms that need the guidance of a physician. If need be, your doctor can help get you into a treatment program that is right for you.
  • Get Support – Coming to terms with an addiction typically reveals psychological issues that need tending to. For most people, having support to confront these matters is crucial. For years, Alcoholics Anonymous has been a hallmark for quitting drinking. However, other options are plentiful as well. In addition to references from the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, therapists, counselors, family and friends are all important resources to tap for support.

Coping Skills

Even armed with determination, a physician’s help and a supportive network, alcohol abstinence can still be a tremendous challenge. Here are some additional tips to help stay sober:

  • Just Say No – Although this campaign phrase from the 1980s is now reserved for satirical retorts, its meaning is at the heart of abstinence. Practice saying “no thank you” for the inevitable occasion when you are offered a drink.
  • Choose Your Surroundings Wisely – Until you’ve traversed the hump of sobriety, avoid situations where you might be pressured to drink. Surround yourself with people and places that are supportive of your decision to quit drinking.
  • Focus on the Present – Quitting drinking happens one moment at a time. Instead of focusing on the past or the future, each decision to consume alcohol is made in the present. The only way to help your liver survive hepatitis is to choose sobriety in each and every moment.

For someone dependant on alcohol, no one ever has claimed that quitting is easy. But for a person in danger of losing his or her life to hepatitis, ease doesn’t matter. By using the medical discoveries, tools and systems developed for this very problem, you can overcome the biological contributors to alcohol dependence. Finding a way to quit drinking alcohol is the same as making the decision to live a long, healthy life, despite an affliction with hepatitis.

References:

Dorsman, Jerry, How to Quit Drinking Without AA, Prima Publishing, Roseville, CA, 1997.

http://chemcases.com, Alcohol Chemistry and You, Dr. Bill Boggan, Kennesaw State University, 2007.

http://familydoctor.org, Alcohol: What to do if it’s a Problem for You, American Academy of Family Physicians, 2007.

http://substance-abuse-recovery.suite101.com, Quit Drinking Alcohol, Angela Schnaubelt, September 2007.

www.brighteyecounseling.co.uk, How to Stop Drinking Alcohol, Bright Eye Counseling, 2007.

www.emedicinehealth.com, Alcoholism, WebMD, 2007.

www.mayoclinic.com, Alcoholism, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2007.

www.peele.net, How can I overcome withdrawal when I quit drinking?, Stanton Peele, 2007.

www.stopdrinkingadvice.org, How to Stop Drinking Alcohol, stopdrinkingadvice.org, 2007.

www.washingtonpost.com, Third of Americans Have Alcohol Problems at Some Point, Steven Reinberg, Scout News LLC, July 2007.

www.webmd.com, Researchers Identify Alcoholism Gene, Jeanie Lerche Davis, WebMD Inc., May 2004.

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HepatitisCentral.com provides information regarding hepatitis and liver disease. Comments are available to the community in order to discuss these topics and obtain answers to questions through community members. The Editors at HepatitisCentral.com will not be responding to questions or comments posed in article comments.

  • BMcP

    Create a FauxTail/Vampire Killer
    Ice, water & a splash of lemonade.
    Drink with the best of em and get healthy.
    And you don’t have an empty/nervous hand.
    Think of liquor as a bad vampire, fight the power.

    Get healthy!
    Press On
    PEACE OUT
    B

  • pjc

    I have had hep c for 45 years. I drink wine on weekends and Baileys and over my lifetime have been drinking alcohol moderately to lightly. I am stage 0 to 1. Just saying….

    • ECV 3

      youre a lucky man bro not saying anything negative some can some cant

  • C.R. Austin

    The author spelled dependence wrong twice. Odd since she spelled dependence correctly.

  • BERT

    I HAVE A CIRRHOTIC LIVER DUE TO HCV.FOUR YEARS AGO I WAS DIAGNOSED AND I INMEDIATELY MADE THE DECISION TO STOP DRINKING.IT HAS BEEN HARD AVOIDING DRINKING BUT,MY WILL TO LIVE IS GREATER THAN MY WILL TO DIE.

  • Jack

    When I drink my ‘numbers’ go through the ceiling, but when I stay sober they have come in the almost upper normal range, imagine that. Alcohol is bad for the body, soul and spirit… at least in the quantities that I tend to take. Change IS possible!

  • modge

    I have been living with hep c ,I do not drink any alcohol.Did a trial drug for the virus for almost a year.Had 3 month blood test.No virus detected.Again 6 months later,Still no virus detected.

  • ECV 3

    If you have hep C Do not drink I thought i could after diagnosis untill my esophigus exploded and damn near killed me!!! But we are all different I cant drink and it sux but ive abstained for over ten years

  • claudia

    it is best to work on the “desire” than using willpower (the last is in fact very dangerous in case of failure!). It is all in our head and also a great swindle created by the industries (like tobacco!). I strongly suggest the book “the easy way to “control” alcohol” by Allen Carr, in fact it is easy to understand the “brainwash” around alcohol and tobacco…

  • Kyle

    I apologise in advance to those I offend, I am Stage 4 Grade 2, I choose to still enjoy a drink or beer once in awhile, 1-2 on the weekends 1-2 times a month, if that kills me, so be it, I am dying anyway You look at it, just slowly, and before the terrible end that awaits me comes (hopefully many years from now), I have a alternative exit strategy planned out, I do not condone any form of Drug Addiction including Alcohol, but it seems to me, that common sense and self-control (moderation) should be talked about as well.