Excessive alcohol use not only causes alcoholic liver disease (ALD) but also increases the risk of liver-related mortality in patients who already have other chronic liver diseases. Screening for alcohol misuse or alcohol use disorder (AUD) among patients with underlying liver disease is essential. This clinical review covers what is known about ALD, the impact of alcohol in patients with underlying liver diseases, current management of alcohol misuse and AUD, and the management of alcohol misuse and AUD specifically in patients with liver diseases. Several treatment options for alcohol misuse and AUD exist such as psychosocial intervention and behavioral and pharmacological therapies. The strategies used in the treatment of alcohol misuse and AUD are still applicable in those who consume alcohol and have underlying liver disease. However, certain medications still need to be carefully used due to potentially worsening already compromised liver function. Screening of ongoing alcohol use in subjects with liver disease is important, and prompt intervention is needed to prevent the associated morbidity and mortality from the detrimental effects of continued alcohol use on underlying liver disease. Considering alcoholism is a complex disease, probably a multidisciplinary approach combining psychotherapy and comprehensive medical care will be the most effective. Future research could focus on identifying additional treatment options for addressing the psychotherapy component since the self-determination and will to quit drinking alcohol can play such a crucial role in promoting abstinence.
JLP and MPP share co-first authorship.
Funding This study is supported by 1R21AA024935 and U01AA021840 from the National Institute of Health (NIH)/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), R01 DK107682-01 from NIH/National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney (NIDDK), 1I01CX000361-01 from the Veterans Affairs Research and Administration, and W81XWH-12-1-0497 from US Department of Defense (all to S.L).
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.