Predicting the Chances of Relapse

Dick Sprague, a Colorado LifeRinger, forwards an interesting article that deals with predicting relapse. The academic article stems from the distressing fact that more than one-third of liver transplant recipients — most of whom, presumably, need the transplant because of damage from drinking — relapse after the transplant. Pause and think about that — you’ve damaged your liver to the point where it’s function is so compromised that you need a transplant. You convince the doctors that you won’t waste their time, energy and money by resuming drinking; you go through the wait for a donor liver and the trauma of the surgery and recovery … and then you go back to drinking. What an example of the power of addiction!

The article (actually the abstract of the article) offers a list of nine factors that predict the risk of relapse, and most of them certainly don’t just apply to transplant recipients:

Nine of 25 hypothesized risk factors were predictive of alcohol relapse after liver transplant: absence of hepatocellular carcinoma, tobacco dependence, continued alcohol use after liver disease diagnosis, low motivation for alcohol treatment, poor stress management skills, no rehabilitation relationship, limited social support, lack of nonmedical behavioral consequences, and continued engagement in social activities with alcohol present.

Read the abstract Here.

— Craig Whalley



  1. JeffK on December 20, 2013 at 5:42 am

    Somewhat off-topic I guess, but I chafed early-on when people talked about “chances of relapse”, as if it were a statistical thing like getting struck by a meteorite while walking your dog. :-) One can only choose to relapse, or choose not to stop the process before it leads to relapse, though stopping it requires recognizing it and then having tools in your toolbag with which to stop it.

  2. Bobbi C. on December 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Additionally, there’s this:

    From that article, a quote:

    “The findings of the present study strongly support a required minimum of six months of abstinence before LT because duration of abstinence was found to be the strongest predictor of recidivism. Female sex, younger age at transplant and psychiatric comorbidities were also associated with relapse to harmful drinking.”

    I’m somewhat surprised to hear that there are ANY transplant programs still willing to give anyone with ALD (alcoholic liver disease) a new liver without, at the very least, a 6 month sobriety minimum; additionally, in my experience this has to be documented (they can’t just say they’re sober), and the candidate in question has to have quit smoking (among a whole list of other things), as well.

    Very interesting…it’s also sadly disturbing (although not altogether unsurprising) to hear that women are more prone to relapse, as well.