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Substance Abuse and Liver Disease

What You Need to Know to Get Ready for Liver Transplantation

Liver Transplant and You

Liver transplantation is an important treatment option for adults with end-stage liver disease. Your doctor believes that you may need a liver transplant in the future. However, to be eligible for a transplant, you must first make important changes in your lifestyle and then document the lasting impact of these changes.

Substance Abuse

At The Transplant Institute at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, like most liver transplant programs around the world, we have a substance abuse policy that is important for you to know about. All patients with a substance abuse problem must meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for a liver transplant. You cannot receive a liver transplant until you meet these requirements.

Getting Ready for Liver Transplant Evaluation

To help you get ready for the possibility of a liver transplant, we strongly recommend that you review the following list of requirements. By doing the things on this list NOW, you will improve your health and be ready for a transplant when the time comes. You will not receive a liver transplant until you meet these requirements.

To be eligible for liver transplantation, you must be able to meet each of the following items. You should discuss these requirements, and your progress in meeting them, with your primary care doctor and your liver specialist. This will help your doctors monitor your progress over time and to communicate with the team at The Transplant Institute.

  • I accept a drug-free and alcohol-free lifestyle to improve my physical and mental health.
  • I have not used any drugs or alcohol for the last three or more months. This includes:
    • No alcohol
    • No street drugs
    • No abuse of prescribed medications
    • No pain medications not approved by my liver doctor
    • No use of someone else's prescribed medications
  • I am participating actively in a substance abuse treatment program.
    • I have documentation of my participation in this treatment program and can give this to my doctor when asked.
    • If I am going to AA or NA, my sponsor will document that I am going to meetings at least three times per week.
    • If I am in an individual or group treatment program, it is with a substance abuse counselor or part of a substance abuse treatment program
  • I am getting random drug and alcohol screens at least once per month. [This can be arranged through your primary care doctor, your liver specialist, or your substance abuse treatment provider or program.]
  • My random drug and alcohol screens have all been clean for the last three months.
    • I have documentation of these drug and alcohol screens and can give this to my doctor when asked.
    • I am willing to participate in an outpatient drug or alcohol treatment program in The Transplant Institute, if my doctor feels that it is necessary.
  • If I have depression, anxiety, or other mental health problems, I am receiving treatment for these conditions.