Pandemic drinking takes toll

(WSTM/NBC News) — Since the pandemic shutdowns began last March, hospitals have seen an increase in patients with liver disease by as much as 50%, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In 2019, Dr. Borys Buniak, a gastroenterologist at St. Joseph's Health in Syracuse, New York says he had a handful of people on liver transplant lists.

"This last year a lot of them didn’t make it to the transplant list because a lot of them drink themselves to death at home. I’ve had more liver deaths this year than I’ve had in my entire career," Buniak says.

Across the board, Buniak's seen a significant increase in patients with liver disease because of alcohol abuse.

"They don’t have an AA meeting to go to so they don’t have the social support. Most people want to be together for social assistance and there’s nobody there to help them," he says.

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