Women with cirrhosis are not receiving alcohol abuse treatment, says study

Women with cirrhosis are not receiving alcohol abuse treatment, says study

March 06, 2019

Women with cirrhosis are not receiving alcohol abuse treatment, says study

Addiction Alcohol

Despite the fact that there is no known cure for liver cirrhosis, patients diagnosed at an early stage of the disease can definitely improve their prognosis, if they refrain from drinking. However, women diagnosed with cirrhosis do not receive alcohol abuse treatment, revealed a recently conducted study. This, even if they were covered under their health insurance plans for conditions pertaining to addiction disorders.

Alcohol abuse, also termed as alcohol addiction, is widely prevalent throughout the world. Though accepted socially, it can lead to various harmful side effects. Alcoholism not only ravages the body and the brain, but also affects several other aspects of an individual’s life. According to the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), every 1 in 19 Americans, aged 12 years or older, had an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in the past year.

Less than 10 percent utilize available alcohol abuse treatment

The Research Society on Alcoholism released the report in January 2019. It analyzed the data of 66,053 patients, in the age group of 18 to 64, covered under private insurance. These patients were diagnosed with cirrhosis between 2009 and 2016. Of these, around 10 percent individuals received treatment for substance abuse or mental illnesses. Another one percent was given a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent relapse.

Of the patients analyzed, 32 percent were women, of which 72 percent had an insurance cover for substance abuse treatment. Still, compared to men, they were less likely to utilize the available alcohol abuse treatment facilities.

According to the report, patients taking medications pertaining to drinking associated disorders or attending alcohol abuse treatment programs were 15 percent less likely to see their condition worsen compared to patients not receiving treatment for the same.

Dr. Robert Brown, hepatologist and director at the Center for Liver Disease and Transplantation at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, said that although alarming, these statistics were not surprising. He further added that anyone involved in treating patients with liver conditions was already aware of the positive outcomes of the programs pertaining to alcohol abstinence. However, a negligible number of patients availed the facility offered by these programs.

Role of gender difference in receiving treatment

Dr. Denise Carise, a chief scientific officer at the Recovery Centers of America, said that the findings of gender disparity and substance abuse reflected the social challenges that women encountered. Compared to men, women faced more obstacles while seeking treatment for alcohol abuse. They dealt with family pressure, lack of financial independence, and also had additional responsibilities such as taking care of their children, thereby making it more difficult for them to seek treatment.

The drinking pattern of women has also changed over time. According to a 2017 report published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, high-risk drinking in women increased by 60 percent from 2001-2002 to 2012-2013. Also, women tend to develop cirrhosis in a shorter duration, as certain female hormones make them more susceptible to liver disease, compared to men.

Seeking help for alcohol addiction

Since historically, alcoholism was always considered an ailment that impacted the male population, the female population may be overlooked in terms of getting diagnosed and receiving appropriate timely intervention. Another reason for non-detection of alcoholism in women included the archaic screening tools, like medical related questionnaires, which were primarily validated on men.

If these diagnostic tools were improved and doctors questioned all their patients alike about their respective habits pertaining to substance abuse, it would help the female population be more aware about their susceptibility to alcoholism and alcoholism-related diseases. Last but not the least, if more gender-oriented alcohol abuse programs are introduced, women would largely benefit from them.

Effective treatment for alcohol addiction works and people can definitely lead better lives if they receive timely help. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol abuse conditions and are looking out for alcohol addiction treatment clinics for women in California, then get in touch with the Invictus Health Group. You can call our 24/7 helpline 866-548-0190 or chat online to a representative about the available alcohol addiction treatment programs for women offered at our facilities located in California.

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