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Smoking tobacco and drinking is way more dangerous than illegal drugs, says study

Smoking tobacco and drinking can lead to more serious health consequences than taking illegal drugs, says a recent study published recently in the journal Addiction. The study authors found that the combined use of tobacco and alcohol cost a quarter of a billion disability-adjusted life years (DALY) worldwide compared to illegal drugs costing tens of millions. DALY refers to the numbers of years lost due to ill health, disability or premature death. It is a measure of overall disease burden.

According to the review of data from 2015, it was found that at least one in five people reported a heavy drinking episode in the past one month and at least one in seven people reported smoking tobacco. Central, Eastern and Western Europe reported the highest rates of alcohol consumption (50.5 percent, 48 percent and nearly 40 percent, respectively). The rate of smoking tobacco was also found to be highest in the same areas – Eastern Europe with 24.2 percent, Central Europe with 23.7 percent and Western Europe with nearly 21 percent.

Worldwide, illicit drug use was found to be much lower. Fewer than one in 20 people used marijuana in the past year. Lower rates were reported for opioids, cocaine and amphetamines. According to the study authors, United States and Canada had highest rates of dependence on marijuana, opioids and cocaine – nearly 749 cases, 650 and 301 cases per 100,000 people, respectively. Additionally, the highest rate of amphetamine dependence was found in Australia and New Zealand (491.5 per 100,000 people) in addition to high dependence rates for marijuana, opioids and cocaine (694, 510 and 160.5 per 100,000 people, respectively).

Recognizing signs and effects of addiction

It is important to recognize the symptoms of addiction in a loved one so that help can be instituted in time. Some of the red flags of an addiction are:

  • Irritation and agitation
  • Euphoria
  • Mood swings
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Isolation
  • Absenteeism from school or work
  • Disoriented behavior
  • Habit of lying or stealing
  • Dry mouth
  • Difficulty in concentration
  • Changes in appetite or weight

Consequences of an addiction include:

  • Relationship problems
  • Difficulties at work or loss of job
  • Financial problems
  • Homelessness
  • Risky behavior like driving under the influence
  • Unsafe sexual practices
  • Violence or verbal, physical abuse
  • Increased risk of HIV, hepatitis C

It is important to identify symptoms of abuse and addiction, and encourage the affected person to get alcohol addiction support from the best alcohol treatment centers. Before the commencement of alcohol dependence treatment, the patient usually undergoes detox, which could be a drug-free program, whereby the body is fortified with nutrients, minerals and vitamins through intravenous or oral route. Detox helps in the removal of toxic substances and their metabolites, and replenishes the body at the same time. The therapists ensure that the patient has to deal with minimum withdrawal symptoms.

Once detox is over, further treatment programs might include an inpatient program where a person stays in a rehab or an outpatient program where a person gets to attend the recovery programs alongside his or her normal life.

It is possible to live without alcohol

Addiction is a real disease contrary to popular opinion that it’s a character or moral flaw. It causes enormous burden not just for the one who is in its grip but also for his/her family, society and the nation. Though culture has propagated drinking as healthy and necessary, dependence on alcohol is bound to create ripple effects. It is possible to live a healthy life without alcohol with timely recognition of the problem and speedy action.

If you know someone battling an addiction to alcohol, don’t hesitate getting professional intervention. Get in touch with the 24/7 Recovery Helpline to gain information on some of the best alcohol abuse treatment centers offering a wide variety of programs for long-lasting recovery. You can call our 24/7 helpline (855) 441-4405 or chat online with an expert to explore various alcohol addiction treatment options around you.

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