The British Liver Trust are aware that many people have been drinking more alcohol since March 2020 when the first lockdown began. We have had an increased number of calls to our Helpline – both from people who have alcohol related liver disease, who are in recovery and who are struggling to continue to abstain but also from people who are worried that lockdown has changed their alcohol habits and they are putting their livers at risk.
Alcohol and Liver disease
Drinking alcohol to excess is still the leading cause of liver disease and liver cancer in the UK. A common myth is that you have to be an ‘alcoholic’ to damage your liver. The truth is that more than one in five people in the UK currently drink alcohol in way that could harm their liver. We are really concerned that this is increasing during lockdown and we are going to be faced with an epidemic of liver disease.
Pamela Healy, Chief Executive of the British Liver Trust, said: “We understand that these are extraordinarily difficult times but urge people not to turn to alcohol as a coping strategy as drinking in excess could damage their liver health and potentially lead to more long-term mental health problems and over time.
“Try to stick to the Government guidelines, which advise that both men and women should drink no more than 14 units a week, spread over several days, with two or three consecutive alcohol-free days to give the liver a chance to recover. If you find that you drink more during times of stress, it’s a good idea to find other, healthier ways to relax, like listening to your favourite music, having a bath or even doing some exercise. If you are worried or finding it difficult to cope, please do call the nurses on the British Liver Trust Helpline.”
What we are calling for
The British Liver Trust is calling for the Government to adopt a joined-up alcohol strategy to tackle the negative effects of the UK’s drinking culture and save lives. This includes addressing the affordability of alcohol by introducing a minimum unit price, tackling the ease of accessibility to alcohol for all and reducing the acceptability of society's drinking culture among the general population. We also need health care professionals to have better resources to assist them in discussing the issues surrounding alcohol misuse with those at risk and we need more alcohol support teams across the UK to support adults with an alcohol dependency.
Reducing your risk of alcohol-related liver disease
A quarter of us drink at levels that could put our health at risk.
Regularly drinking more than the recommended amount over a long period can damage your liver. This can lead to alcohol-related liver disease (ARLD) and liver cancer.
What you can do to reduce liver damage from alcohol
- Men and women should drink no more than 14 units per week.
- Give your liver a regular break and have 2 to 3 alcohol free days each week – try to have them all in a row.