Alcohol addiction and liver disease storyline in Coronation Street

Posted on: 10th February 2021

Fans of Coronation Street will know that there is a storyline involving Peter Barlow, who has alcohol-related liver disease and has struggled to stop drinking.

The British Liver Trust approached the liver team at the Royal Free Hospital in London and have been working with them and script-writers at Coronation Street to ensure the storyline is as medically-accurate as possible and best reflects the real-life experience of alcohol-related liver disease patients.

Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Communications and Policy at the British Liver Trust, says: “The storyline shows just how hard it is for many people with alcohol-related liver disease to stop drinking, even when they know they have a life-threatening condition. Alcohol-related liver disease and mental health issues are closely intertwined, and people often need a lot of help to stop drinking.

"It’s also important to remember that although heavy drinkers like Peter Barlow develop liver disease, it’s not just ‘alcoholics’ who are at risk. Alcohol is the leading cause of liver disease mortality. In fact, one in five people in the UK currently drink at a level that may put their livers at risk.

“We would urge everyone in the UK to think seriously about the amount they are drinking. Try to drink no more than 14 units of alcohol per week and have two to three consecutive days off alcohol every week. By doing this you will give your liver a rest and allow it to recover before too much damage is done.”

The Coronation Street storyline focusses on alcohol as the cause of Peter’s liver disease, but there are many other causes, such as obesity, viral hepatitis, and genetic and autoimmune liver conditions. The British Liver Trust understands that many people with liver disease are disappointed that alcohol-related liver disease is once again the type of liver disease that is being portrayed in mainstream media. This was decided by the series producers – however the British Liver Trust did ask the script writers to mention that there are other types, and this is talked about in one of Peter’s conversations at the clinic.

No matter what the cause, very often symptoms of liver disease only show in the later stages of the condition when treatment options are limited. The British Liver Trust will continue to follow Peter’s progress and use the developing storyline to raise awareness of the many causes and symptoms of liver disease.

Where to go for support

If you’d like more information about alcohol-related liver disease, or how to get support, please visit our support page. You can also contact our liver nurse-led helpline on freephone 0800 652 7330 or email helpline@britishlivertrust.org.uk.

 

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