Can't find something? Search Here.

Motivational Therapy Aids Patients With Alcohol Problems and Hepatitis C

Posted in Alcoholism Treatment

Motivational-Therapy-Aids-Patients-With-Alcohol-Problems-and-Hepatitis-CChronic alcohol abuse and the liver disease called hepatitis C are the two most common contributors to a form of advanced liver damage called cirrhosis. People affected by both heavy drinking and hepatitis C are particularly at risk for severe changes in liver health. In a study scheduled for publication in 2014 in the journal Addiction, a team of American researchers examined the usefulness of a form of alcohol treatment called motivational enhancement therapy in helping people affected by both hepatitis C and alcohol use disorder (alcohol abuse/alcoholism) increase the number of days during which they avoid drinking.

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is the name for an infectious liver condition caused by a virus known as the hepatitis C virus or HCV. Medical researchers only discovered this virus and clearly differentiated hepatitis C from other forms of hepatitis in the late 1980s. Some people infected by HCV develop a case of acute hepatitis C that lasts for several weeks or months. However, in the aftermath of an acute infection, most affected individuals go on to develop chronic hepatitis C, a potentially lifelong condition that can trigger the permanent tissue scarring that defines cirrhosis of the liver, as well as certain forms of malignant liver cancer. Hepatitis C passes from person to person through HCV-infected blood. Typical routes of transmission include the sharing of needles or other paraphernalia during injection or IV drug use, prenatal blood sharing between a mother and her child, accidental needle exposure in hospitals or similar environments and (in fairly rare cases) intercourse or other sexual acts with a previously infected individual.

Alcohol and Hepatitis C

Heavy alcohol intake is known to worsen the impact of liver damage in people infected with HCV. Broadly speaking, heavy intake in these circumstances can be defined as the consumption of at least five standard servings of alcohol (0.6 oz of pure alcohol a serving) per day. For men and women, this level of daily alcohol intake exceeds commonly accepted public health standards for moderate drinking that does not increase your odds of eventually receiving an alcohol use disorder diagnosis. Evidence reported by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also indicates that even light or moderate alcohol consumption may significantly hasten the cirrhosis-related damage produced by hepatitis C. Heavy drinking also produces serious harm in people with chronic hepatitis C by contributing to the conditions that lead to the onset of a form of liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma.

Effectiveness of Motivational Enhancement

Motivational enhancement therapy is a technique designed to help people who abuse alcohol or certain other substances come to grips with the reality of their situation and make a decision to seek help and reduce or eliminate their substance involvement. As the name of the therapy suggests, it works by helping the affected individual find his or her personal motivation for change, not by lecturing or otherwise applying coercive pressure.

In the study scheduled for publication in Addiction, researchers from multiple institutions (including the University of Minnesota Medical School and several branches of the Veterans Affairs healthcare system) used an examination of 139 adults affected by both alcohol use disorder and hepatitis C to determine if motivational enhancement therapy retains its effectiveness in this not uncommon situation. All of the study participants were still consuming alcohol when the study began. Half of the participants received motivational enhancement for three months, while the other half received more basic information on the dangers of alcohol use in people with hepatitis C.

Immediately after the three-month period came to an end, the number of days during which alcohol abstinence was maintained was nearly identical for the recipients of motivational enhancement therapy and the recipients of a basic informational effort (34.98 percent of days vs. 34.63 percent of days). However, six months later, the motivational enhancement recipients maintained abstinence on 73.16 percent of days while the basic information recipients maintained abstinence on only 59.49 percent of days. Interestingly, the overall rate of weekly alcohol intake remained essentially the same for both groups.

The study’s authors emphasize the number of alcohol-free days among the participants who received motivational enhancement therapy, not the overall weekly level of alcohol intake. Based on their findings, they believe that motivational enhancement has a moderate positive impact on the drinking behaviors of people simultaneously affected by alcohol use disorder and hepatitis C.