Alcohol is a legal and socially acceptable substance used widely among American culture. As a result, many individuals view alcohol as a less dangerous substance to use when compared to many other drugs of abuse. But is alcohol safer than other drugs?
Unfortunately, alcohol is just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than other substances. In fact, experts and their studies have proven that alcohol is extremely dangerous to those who become addicted or physically dependent.
In all honesty, it is easy to understand why people view alcohol as being safer than other drugs. To explain, in most areas of the country you can buy alcohol at your grocery store, restaurants, and even your local convenience store. Adults do not need a prescription to acquire alcohol, as they would in order to obtain drugs such as benzodiazepines or opioids.
Additionally, alcohol companies utilize clever marketing skills that work to appeal to individuals of all ages. For example, these companies hire high-profile celebrities to “drink” during an alcohol advertisement while engaging in an exciting activity. While alcohol can be ingested responsibly, many individuals develop a strong dependency that leads to a full-blown addiction.
Alcohol Abuse vs. Drug Abuse
Many people believe the misconception that alcohol is safer than drugs. However, many studies have found that this notion is completely false. In fact, The Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) dedicated their time in order to figure out which substances are more dangerous than others. If a substance scores 100 it is considered extremely dangerous, while lower-scoring substances are considered less harmful. Of the 20 drugs examined, alcohol scored the highest at 72. Surprisingly, notorious drugs such as heroin and crack scored 55 and 50 – making them less harmful than alcohol for some individuals. Additionally, the ICSD reported that psilocybin mushrooms were the least harmful drug, only scoring 5 points.
To further explain, approximately 63,000 individuals died in 2016 due to drug overdoses. This number does indicate that drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions. However, on the other hand, 88,000 individuals died from chronic alcohol abuse in the same year. In addition, alcohol has been found to be the 3rd leading cause of preventable death in the United States. While alcohol abuse harms the individual who is drinking, it begins to harm others around the drinker as well. Chronic drinking is responsible for an array of adverse consequences, such as:
Consequently, it is important that individuals begin to look at the harmful effects of alcohol and take preventative measures. Alcohol is a very dangerous substance to abuse and has been proven to be more dangerous than many other drugs. Still, alcohol is one of the most rapidly abused substances in this country. The only major difference between the effects of alcohol and drug abuse contain the amount of time it takes for an individual to receive adverse effects. To explain, alcohol abuse will slowly deteriorate one’s mental and physical health, while some drugs cause an instantaneous death such as an overdose.
The Adverse Effects of Chronic Alcohol Consumption
The excessive use of any substance will begin to cause adverse health effects. However, chronic alcohol drinkers may experience an array of severe health effects as a direct result of their drinking. For example, alcohol has the ability to affect nearly every single bodily system. It is important to note that the amount a person drinks, their genetic factors, gender, and overall health all play a role in the adverse effects of excessive drinking. Lastly, alcohol abuse has been linked to the development of over 60 diseases, including:
- Early dementia
- Malnourishment or vitamin deficiencies
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Liver disease
- Cancer of the mouth, larynx, stomach, liver, colon, breast, and rectum
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Alcohol-related liver disease
- Weakened immune system
- Brain damage resulting in memory lapses, slowed reaction times, slurred speech, and difficulty walking
Unfortunately, on top of the array of diseases an individual can develop, alcohol abuse is known to cause alcoholism or alcohol use disorder (AUD). Individuals with alcohol use disorder indulge in a drinking pattern that is characterized by the inability to control the amount of alcohol intake, increasing tolerance to alcohol, and the presence of withdrawal symptoms after ceasing alcohol use. Unfortunately, individuals who have developed an alcohol use disorder are at a higher risk of developing alcohol-related illnesses. For this reason, believing the myth that alcohol is safer than other drugs is terribly dangerous.
Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder
Individuals who suffer from alcohol use disorder require professional and informed alcohol detox and treatment. To begin, patients at an alcohol treatment program will start their rehab journey at a medical alcohol detox center. During detox, individuals will be safely monitored on a 24/7 basis in order to control and soothe their symptoms of withdrawal. Since alcohol addiction produces dangerous withdrawal symptoms, this phase of treatment is vital for one’s health and success in sobriety.
After detox, most individuals opt for residential or outpatient treatment. No matter which program you choose, both alcohol treatment plans take your individual needs into consideration while treating the mental, physical, and social aspects of alcohol use disorder. If you or a loved one are in need of alcohol addiction treatment, Agape Treatment Center is here to help. Give us a call today for more information on our alcohol use disorder treatment plans!