An empirical study of alcohol consumption by patients considering HCV treatment

Academic Article


  • Background: Alcohol accelerates the course of hepatitis C (HCV) infection and liver damage. Little is known about recency of alcohol use among patients with HCV. Objectives: Alcohol consumption recency was compared among HCV patients with and without alcohol use disorders and current and lifetime alcohol use histories. Methods: Patients considering antiviral treatment for HCV (n=309) recruited from university-affiliated and VA liver and infectious disease clinics were assessed for lifetime and current-year psychiatric disorders and alcohol-use patterns. Full diagnostic interviews, self-report surveys, medical record review, and urine screening for recent alcohol and drug use were conducted. Results: 60% used alcohol in the last year. Besides alcohol history, those who stopped using alcohol in the past year differed from those with no lifetime use only in gender (60% vs. 22%); however, patients no longer using alcohol in the last year were less likely than those still using to have a current drug use disorder (16% vs. 3%) or last-month drug use (52% vs. 30%), and had fewer current risky behaviors (1.3 vs. 0.6). Among patients with last-year alcohol use, those with past alcohol use disorders differed from those without only by higher prevalence of drug use disorder (84% vs. 47%) and drug use after HCV diagnosis (67% vs. 43%). Conclusions: Patients who had stopped using alcohol for at least a year were much like those who never used alcohol in regard to other drug use, psychiatric history, smoking, and risky behaviors. These findings indicate that HCV patients with at least a year of abstinence from alcohol, including those with a history of alcohol use disorder, should be considered HCV treatment candidates.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • North CS; Sims O; Hong BA; Jain MK; Brown G; Lisker-Melman M; Pollio DE
  • Start Page

  • 484
  • End Page

  • 489
  • Volume

  • 40
  • Issue

  • 6