Management of alcohol-associated liver disease and alcohol use disorder in liver transplant candidates and recipients: Challenges and opportunities

Liver Transpl. 2024 Mar 13. doi: 10.1097/LVT.0000000000000362. Online ahead of print.


Alcohol-associated liver disease poses a significant global health burden, with rising alcohol consumption and prevalence of alcohol use disorder (AUD) contributing to increased morbidity and mortality. This review examines the challenges and opportunities in the care of candidates and recipients of liver transplant (LT) with AUD. Despite advancements in posttransplant patient survival, the risk of disease recurrence and alcohol relapse remains substantial. Several challenges have been identified, including (1) rising disease burden of alcohol-associated liver disease, variable transplant practices, and systemic barriers; (2) disparities in mental health therapy access and the impact on transplant; (3) variable definitions, underdiagnosis, and stigma affecting access to care; and (4) post-LT relapse, its risk factors, and consequential harm. The review focuses on the opportunities to improve AUD care for candidates and recipients of LT through effective biochemical monitoring, behavioral and pharmacologic approaches, creating Centers of Excellence for post-LT AUD care, advocating for policy reforms, and ensuring insurance coverage for necessary services as essential steps toward improving patient outcomes. The review also highlights unmet needs, such as the scarcity of addiction specialists, and calls for further research on personalized behavioral treatments, digital health, and value-based care models to optimize AUD care in the LT setting.