Alcoholism vs Drug Addiction

Alcoholism and addictions to drugs are linked together in many ways. During 2013, there were around 22 million United States citizens, 12 years and older, who said they abused alcohol or drugs within that prior year. Out of those people, just under 3 million said they had abused drugs and alcohol. Approximately 4.5 million of those people said they only had abused some kinds of drugs and just under 15 million said they had abused alcohol. In other words, just under 18 million Americans had abused alcohol or become addicted to it and just over 7 million Americans had abused drugs or become addicted to them. The realities of drug and alcohol abuse are scary. If you have been abusing any harmful substances, treatment is available.

What Are Two Reasons Why There Is a High Number of Alcohol Abuse or Dependence?

One of the main reasons why the number of alcohol abuse or dependence cases are so high is due to availability. Just about anyone is able to obtain alcohol. It doesn’t matter the age. Kids can get alcohol from their family members or attend a party where it is being served. Adults can get it at a liquor store, friends house or just about anywhere. Another reasons why the rate of alcohol abuse or dependence is so high is due to the risk perception. Alcohol is legal. That is why many people believe it isn’t dangerous. Some people even think it is safe to start binge drinking (having a minimum of 5 drinks in a short time frame). There are more people who believe there is a higher risk of using illegal drugs than abusing alcohol.

What Is the Life Expectancy of Someone With an Alcohol Addiction?

There are numerous illicit drugs and illegal drugs which pose more dangers than alcohol. However, it must be known that alcohol is the cause of tearing apart many people’s lives, not just the addict’s life. It is also the reason so many people have lost their lives as well. Abusing alcohol is often seen as fun. On TV shows alcoholics are laughed at and put up on a pedestal in some instances. Advertisements on TV make drinking seem joyful and help someone to be happy. These are only fabrications to help alcohol sell. These don’t tell or show exactly how damaging alcohol can be. It is a poison to the body.

The truth is alcohol is considered a drug and it does change how the body will function. If someone drinks heavily or develops alcoholism, it can lower their life expectancy by around 10 to 12 years. It can reduce their quality of life as well. It is a “well-known” fact alcohol will tear apart the liver, but that isn’t the only way alcohol can destroy lives. Some of the other ways include the following:

  • Increased death rates from accidents, suicide, violence and injuries
  • Alcohol poisoning or overdose
  • Alcohol withdrawals or more specifically, delirium tremens, which can be fatal
  • Not being able to recuperate from a surgery or a disease

What Are Some Effects From Alcohol?

Some of the most common effects caused from drinking alcohol include decreased inhibitions, feeling giddy, slurring of speech, dizziness and balance issues. These are some short-term side effects from alcohol. Some of the other mental and physical effects that might be caused from drinking heavily (generally with alcoholism or alcohol abuse) include the following:

  • Feeling nauseous, vomiting or having diarrhea
  • Vision or hearing issues
  • Unconscious
  • Blacking out (when you are unconscious but just act drunk)
  • Sexual dysfunction issues
  • Increased anxiety or depression
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Anemia
  • Alcoholic hepatitis
  • Ulcers
  • Heart, pancreas, immune system and liver damage
  • Mental and physical addiction
  • Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome
  • Stroke
  • Coma
  • Breast, liver, throat, esophagus or mouth cancer

The long-term alcohol abuse can be very harmful to someone’s health. Withdrawing from alcohol can lead to many severe symptoms too. These symptoms can happen within a couple hours after the last time you drank or days or possibly weeks after your last drink. The withdrawal symptoms might include:

  • Headaches
  • Shaking in arms and legs
  • Insomnia or other sleep disorders
  • Nightmares
  • Appetite loss
  • Becoming irritable or agitated
  • Becoming nervous or anxious
  • Becoming depressed
  • Having mood swings
  • Nauseous or vomiting
  • Tactile, auditory or visual hallucinations
  • Delirium tremens (note with mental confusion, increased heartbeat and a fever)
  • Seizures

There are some symptoms of alcohol withdrawal which could be fatal if not monitored closely by a doctor or medical professional.

What Is the Life Expectancy of Someone Who Is Addicted to Drugs?

Generally, someone who is addicted to drugs has a short life expectancy than someone who is addicted to alcohol. A drug addict’s life expectancy is usually between 15 and 20 years after their addiction started. Some common causes of death for a drug addict include the following:

  • Poisoning or overdose
  • Death caused by suicide, accident or violence
  • Withdrawal symptoms
  • Failure of organs because of harmful toxins building up
  • Not being able to recuperate after disease or surgery
  • Getting a disease like AIDS/HIV

Abusing drugs and alcohol both affect the user’s immune system similarly. They both knock minerals and vitamins out of the body. In time, the chemicals destroy the body, making it harder for healing to occur and more difficult for the body to resist any illnesses. Many addicts are malnourished as well, which might cause more diseases or even a fatal reaction.

What Effects Do Drugs Have On the User?

The list of drugs is a long one. There is Ritalin, methamphetamine and amphetamines which are all stimulants. There are sleeping pills, heroin and OxyContin which are depressants. There is mescaline, mushrooms and LSD which are all hallucinogens. There are many factors which cause the various effects from these different drugs. One specific drug may affect one person in certain ways and someone else in a completely different way. Some factors which affect this are mental state of the user, age, health, tolerance and physiology. In addition, how the drug is mixed with another drug, the chemical composition and quantity are some other factors which affect how the user will handle the drug. Some of the most common effects from different drugs, which may vary based on time of use, dosage and some other factors include the following:

  • Nauseous and vomiting
  • Stomach pains, constipation and diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Sleeping issues
  • Mood swings
  • Eating habit changes
  • Becoming malnourished
  • Irritability, paranoia, anxiety or depression
  • Violence or aggressiveness
  • Organ damage to lungs, heart or brain
  • Drug dependence or even an addiction
  • Seizures
  • Heart attacks
  • Coma
  • Fatal Reaction

What Are Some Traits Commonly Known to Drug and Alcohol Addictions?

Both drug and alcohol addictions work on the user’s brain. Use of these harmful substances will cause the person to want to repeat the pleasure they get from it. If someone feels euphoric or pleasure from something, it is likely they will want to keep partaking in that activity. That is only human nature. However, when the drug starts wearing off, the user generally becomes depressed or exhausted and feels they need to use the drugs again to feel normal. In time, the alcohol or drug addict will need an increased dosage to get the same euphoric feeling. This means their tolerance of the drug has increased as well which is one of the first signs of becoming drug dependent or even addicted to the drug.

In addition, those who have an alcohol or drug addiction are often compulsive. They may steal from or lie to their family and friends, so they can keep using drugs or drinking. They may hide drugs or alcohol, so others can’t find it. Alcoholics and drug addicts often push away their loved ones and spend time with other addicts. The addict may not admit they have a problem and will continue to act out in self-destructive ways.

Even though every person is responsible for their own actions, there must be an understanding that an alcohol or drug addict’s behaviors are chemically profound. This means their addiction or drug abuse has changed them, at a minimum, during the times they are under the influence. During the course of an addictive lifestyle, the addict’s life may be in shambles. Their relationships may be destroyed. The quality of life of both a drug addict and alcoholic will be deteriorated.

No matter if someone has a drug addiction or alcohol addiction, they need to get help. The greatest way to overcome an addiction to alcohol or drugs is to have that person attend a detox program and drug rehab program. This should be done sooner rather than later. Once the addict can work through their issues in rehab, they can create a healthier, happier lifestyle. If you have an addiction, ask someone to help today. There are many treatment programs available to fit your needs. It might seem like a scary process and it can be. However, when you talk to the rehab center staff, they can answer all questions you have and help you to see, rehab is an option that can lead you to a better life.

Talk with one of our Treatment Specialists!

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