Alcohol abuse is responsible for 1.6 million hospitalizations each year, and is the 3rd leading lifestyle-related cause of chronic disease and conditions in the United States. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over 11 million people reported non-medical drug use in 2011, an increase of 2 million since 2009. Prescription drug abuse and addiction has exceeded the use of illicit drugs at an alarming rate. Marijuana continues to be the most prevalent illegal drug used in the US, with self-reports from 14.6 million users in 2009 (NIDA, 2010). New research suggests drug and alcohol abuse affects health, weight, and activity in people of all ages.
Health Trends and Alcohol Abuse
It is a well known fact that alcohol causes liver and kidney damage, negatively affects the immune system, and increases risks for diabetes. However, more recent studies have concluded that alcohol can also interfere with weight loss, thereby contributing to the obesity epidemic in America. Alcohol is metabolized differently by the body, and is quickly absorbed by the liver and sent to the brain. Any food in the stomach will be neglected by the digestive system and converted into body fat. Alcohol addiction continues to be one of the leading causes of death in the United States each year.
Prescription Drug Use Contributes to Obesity
The overuse of opiates, like vicodin, lortab and oxycontin, cause changes in the body’s ability to digest food and control weight. In many users, opiates slow down metabolism and increases hunger. Due to the “numbing” effect of pain killers, some may overeat because the body cannot perceive fullness during a meal. The kidneys and liver become impaired and may not convert energy efficiently, leaving the body sluggish and inactive. Although it is a diverse experience for different people, medications can cause weight gain in some people.
Marijuana and Lung Disease
Although marijuana is typically smoked less often than cigarettes on a daily basis, it still can cause respiratory disease. The smoke contains 3 to 5 times more tar and carbon monoxide than cigarettes, and may cause coughing, chronic bronchitis, and shortness of breath. Numerous studies have shown that marijuana smokers experience a decrease in activity and an increase in appetite.
Substance Abuse Treatment and Health
Alcohol and substance abuse centers focus on the overall health of people in recovery. Depression, symptoms of withdrawal and physical wellness are all integral to optimum health. Rehabilitation centers work with counselors, nutritionists and therapists to provide the best care and strategies available to recovery. Learning why people are using medications and illicit drugs to cope with their daily lives is the core of helping people in recovery.