Just remember, addiction to alcohol or other drugs is a leading cause of death. When the person stops using the drug, they may have withdrawal symptoms. Drug abuse refers to a deliberate decision to use alcohol, an illegal drug, or a medicine in an unsafe way. In 2021, 13.2 million people aged 12 or older (or 4.7%) used an e-cigarette or other vaping device to vape nicotine in the past month. Li in NIAAA’s journal Alcohol Research & Health , addiction carries a stigma that might make clinicians less likely to use this term for fear of alienating their patients. Additionally, like the term “alcoholism,” addiction is so widely used in such different contexts that its meaning is imprecise and unclear .

This increases the risk of progression to problematic use. Opioids are another example of this — the availability and volume of prescription opioids make them easier alcohol vs drugs to access. Adolescents are especially at risk for developing SUD due to exposure. Adolescents who start using substances early are more likely to develop an SUD.


In fact, treatment includes both of these options — and a variety of others. It is not easy to live with someone who is using mind-altering substances. Taking steps to begin treatment and recovery can be a painful process. However, it is the only path that holds promise for something better. As long as family members deny that there is a problem, the problem will progress along with suffering.

alcohol vs drugs

Clinicians also may screen patients for drug problems using instruments such as the Drug Abuse Screening Test or the CAGE Adapted to Include Drugs (CAGE–AID), or using a urine drug test . Clinicians should take a full history of any patient suspected of having a problem with drugs, asking, for example, about which drugs are used, age of first use, pattern of use, consequences of use, attempts to quit, and treatment history. It also is crucial to evaluate patients for signs of intoxication or withdrawal.

Meth, cocaine and other stimulants

This suggests that some of the risk factors for alcohol and other drug use are rooted in genetics, though studies of specific families have not proven a genetic contribution. How common is alcohol and other drug use, and how often do alcohol and drug use disorders co-occur? To answer these questions, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism conducted the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions , one of the largest surveys of its kind ever performed.

Attempts to stop drug use may cause intense cravings and make you feel physically ill. In New York State, the penalties for an alcohol or drug-related violation include the loss of driving privileges, fines, and a possible jail term. These strategies can be used with other strategies to reduce overdoses, such as strengthening prescription drug monitoring programs. People who binge drink are four times more likely to use other substances than people who do not drink.

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