Liver disease spiking during the pandemic

A little too much drinking during the pandemic has doctors sounding the alarm.

Hospitals across the country are reporting a 50% increase in the number of patients with alcohol-related illnesses. A stat that doesn't come off as a big surprise for psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Haraszti.

"Hospitalizations due to liver failure, alcoholic hepatitis, any number of liver disease related to alcoholism has increased tremendously during the pandemic," Dr. Haraszti said.

Dr. Haraszti says the stress and anxiety we’ve all felt during this pandemic has led many people to the bottle.

"You drink at home and when you drink at home, it kind of escapes as to how much you're drinking," he said.

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"When it comes to drinking, who is doing it more, men or women?" asked FOX 11's Gina Silva.

"Probably men do it more, but it affects women more because women, you know, they have smaller body size and proportionately. It has a greater effect or greater impact on them, and women actually have more liver disease more alcohol-related problems than men do," Dr. Haraszti said.

Equally harmful has been the isolation we’ve experienced. Having to stay away from family and friends has not been easy.

Tim Ryan and Jennifer Gimenez Ryan are interventionists. Both are also recovering addicts.

"I actually just had my mom call me about one of her friends who was on hospice dying from cirrhosis of the liver and my mother said her drinking over the past year has become compounded because she's isolated," said Ryan.

Their advice for anyone struggling with addiction is to seek help and forget about what others may think of you.

"This pandemic has set us back -- 10 years -- you know, it's it's definitely set us back. It's going to take a while for things to get normal and especially in the recovery world, and the addiction world and mental health like it's going to take some time," said Gimenez Ryan.

Tim Ryan said the pandemic has led to an 850% increase in alcohol sales and consumption. 

"suicide calls are up 1,000% mental health goals are up 1,000%. We definitely have a pandemic within a pandemic right now," he added.

If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to civilians and veterans. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (tel:18002738255). Or text HOME to 741-741 (Crisis Text Line).

CLICK HERE for the warning signs and risk factors of suicide.