april 2009

Drinking patterns, dependency and life-time drinking history in alcohol-related liver disease

AIMS: To examine the hypothesis that increases in UK liver deaths are a result of episodic or binge drinking as opposed to regular harmful drinking.

DESIGN: A prospective survey of consecutive in-patients and out-patients.

SETTING: The liver unit of a teaching hospital in the South of England.

PARTICIPANTS: A total of 234 consecutive in-patients and out-patients between October 2007 and March 2008.

MEASUREMENTS: Face-to-face interviews, Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test, 7-day drinking diary, Severity of Alcohol Dependence Questionnaire, Lifetime Drinking History and liver assessment.

FINDINGS: Of the 234 subjects, 106 had alcohol as a major contributing factor (alcoholic liver disease: ALD), 80 of whom had evidence of cirrhosis or progressive fibrosis. Of these subjects, 57 (71%) drank on a daily basis; only 10 subjects (13%) drank on fewer than 4 days of the week--of these, five had stopped drinking recently and four had cut down. In ALD patients two life-time drinking patterns accounted for 82% of subjects, increasing from youth (51%), and a variable drinking pattern (31%). ALD patients had significantly more drinking days and units/drinking day than non-ALD patients from the age of 20 years onwards.

CONCLUSIONS: Increases in UK liver deaths are a result of daily or near-daily heavy drinking, not episodic or binge drinking, and this regular drinking pattern is often discernable at an early age.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Hatton J.; Burton A.; Nash H.; Munn E.; Burgoyne L.; Sheron N.
  • Issue

    Addiction / pages 587-592 / volume 104
  • Published Date

    april 2009