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Patients with alcohol addiction at significantly higher risk of death

Published On: 07-22-2015 in Category: addiction

patients alcohol addiction higher risk death

A study recently published in the journal European Psychiatry found that patients suffering through alcoholism possessed a significantly higher risk for mortality than that of patients without an alcohol addiction problem. They also found that on average, patients with alcohol addiction died about 7.6 years earlier than those without a history of alcoholism.

Dr. Dieter Schoepf from the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the University of Bonn Hospital and Dr. Reinhard Heun from the Royal Derby Hospital in England, analyzed data from seven hospitals in Manchester, United Kingdom. They found that the death rate of alcoholic patients in general hospitals is significantly higher that of patients without an alcohol addiction. Alcoholism, also known as alcohol addiction, is characterized by compulsive drinking in which the user continues to drink, regardless of whatever consequences ensue. This behavior triggers a self-destructive pattern in a user’s personality, such as neglecting hobbies, obligations, relationships and health. These problems lead to problems at home and in the workplace while destroying relationships with those who are close to the alcoholic.

Dr. Schoepf stated, “Mental problems as well as significant physical health impairments are associated with alcohol addiction…Alcoholics who were treated in British general hospitals for health problems die an average of 7.6 years earlier than non-alcohol dependent patients; this is due to the interaction of several concomitant physical illnesses.”

This study was observational, extending over a 12.5-year-long period and consisting of 23,371 patients with alcoholism. This group of alcohol-addicted patients was compared to a control group of 233,710 non-addicted patients who were selected at random.

An alarming statistic from the study indicated that 27 physical illnesses occurred more frequently among patients with alcoholism when compared to those who do not suffer from this condition. Some of these illnesses included disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, airways, nervous system and pancreas.

Results from the study did find that cardiovascular disease, cataracts and heart attacks did occur less frequently among patients with alcoholism than they did in the control group. Dr. Schoepf states: “Patients with addiction problems are often admitted to hospitals as emergency cases. At the time of diagnosis, priority is then given to the acute symptoms – this may contribute to the fact that not all physical illnesses are recorded.”

The authors of the study also noted that due to a reduced feeling of physical pain among alcoholics, conditions may be more likely to go unreported or undetected.

Dr. Heun noted that during the observation period, “approximately one out of five hospital patients with alcoholism died in one of the hospitals, while only one out of twelve patients in the control group died.”

One of the strengths of this study was that it consisted of a large population of patients and the large control group allowed for a more accurate assessment. The long observation period also made it possible for researchers to monitor the progression of illnesses that typically develop gradually over time.

The increased risk of multiple illnesses among patients with alcohol addiction in general hospitals demonstrates a strong link between alcohol addiction and developing physical illnesses. Although they may not always be directly related, alcohol addiction can lead to many other physical consequences if left untreated for a prolonged period of time. Professor Heun concluded, “Through diligent screening and early treatment of concomitant mental and physical illnesses, it should be possible to significantly increase the life expectancy of alcoholic patients.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol abuse leads to approximately 88,000 deaths per year and accounts for one in 10 deaths among adults ages 20-64 years old. Drug Treatment and Rehab Centers of Long Beach is committed to helping those who struggle with drug addiction find effective drug addiction treatment options in the Southern California Area. Finding the right treatment programs can be a stressful process and we help those families who are struggling to find their loved ones help. We offer free consultation to anyone who calls and is seeking help looking for drug addiction treatment. If you have a loved one who is struggling with drug addiction and is in need of addiction treatment, please do not hesitate to call. You can reach us at (714) 589-2811. Our helpline is open 24/7 and our treatment specialists will assist you in finding the right treatment program for you.

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