The United States recorded 95,000 deaths in 2019 due to alcohol-related diseases and accidents, putting Alcohol third on the list of leading preventable causes of death. Yet, the Opioid epidemic steals the headlines. Why? Are we missing something?

Undoubtedly, alcohol is deadlier and more easily accessible than opioids. While people might have to be prescribed synthetic opioid fentanyl or reach out for illegal consumption in the form of heroin, a bottle of beer can be cashed out at the supermarket by a twenty-one-year-old.

The concern arises, are we focusing on the wrong substance? Is alcohol worse than opioids? Should we be more concerned about the increasing Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)? The answer is yes! 

Alcohol Abuse On The Rise – Alcohol Epidemic

“Alcoholism is an addiction – it’s just one type of addiction. When you break out the specific things that someone who is suffering from alcoholism contends with, they are no different from any other type of addict.” – Dr. John Sharp, M.D., Harvard Medical School

This perfectly legal substance goes unnoticed for the number of deaths and damages it causes within society. The number we mentioned might have risen, but since 2019 there have been at least 95,000 deaths due to alcohol, which is far more than opioid-related deaths last year.

As the government continues to generate tax revenue from alcohol and makes it available to all, other kinds of drugs get the blame for the havoc created in society, among the youth and adults alike. The reason is that consuming four beer bottles or a third of a wine bottle a day is connected to relaxing and winding down. Huge blame goes to the media that has for decades portrayed alcohol use as a healthy serving for a social lubricant.


Legal, accessible, and socially acceptable; these three terms perfectly define alcohol’s standing within the U.S. While abusing drugs might be stigmatized, the overdosage of alcohol might not be considered a threat until an intoxicated person is speeding in a car. The main reason behind that is the accessibility of the substance, which deludes people into thinking that they are safe no matter how much alcohol they consume.

Adverse Effects Of Alcohol

Like any other drug or substance, there are adverse effects related to consuming alcohol. Here is a list of health concerns caused due to AUDs.

  • Cardiomyopathy – this fatal cardiovascular condition affects the muscle of the heart. With a weaker muscle, it makes it hard for the blood to be pumped around the body. When the left ventricle finds it hard to pump blood, it may lead to heart failure, possibly taking a person’s life.
  • Cardiac Arrhythmia – The holiday heart syndrome is when the heart beats at an irregular rate. It can be caused by the regular use of hard drinks and could result in a heart rate of 100 to 175 beats per minute. This can be quite uncomfortable physically and may lead to a stroke or high blood pressure, more so in women.
  • Pancytopenia occurs when the bone marrow stops producing enough blood cells, decreasing platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells in the system. The cessation of the substance can cure this problem.
  • Dementia – Since alcohol alters many parts of your brain when it’s within your system, it affects your memory too. Excessive use of the substance can cause alcohol dementia. Don’t confuse it for Alzheimer’s; it is different and is being detected more readily with the increasing advancements in psychiatry.
  • Cancer – Apart from increasing chances of breast cancer in women, alcohol abuse can be a leading cause of esophageal, liver, mouth, throat, and colorectal cancer.
  • Immune Suppression – You make yourself more susceptible to infectious diseases by reducing your immunity with regular alcohol consumption. In today’s global pandemic, this is far more important to consider than before!

Global Pandemic And Alcohol Epidemic

If you compare the studies carried out before the global pandemic until now, you will notice that there has been an increase in substance abuse, regardless of what kind. According to a study carried out by a drug and alcohol research center in Brazil over the clinical vulnerability for severity and mortality by COVID-19 among alcohol and other substance users, people who were addicted to any drug were more at risk for a worse COVID-19 prognosis. Moreover, polydrug users, crack cocaine, and alcohol users were directly vulnerable to the virus.

What Is The Connection Between Alcohol and Opioid Overdose?

Many people, knowingly and unknowingly, combine the two drugs. This can result in the potential death of those who do. Alcohol serves as a central nervous system depressant that contributes negatively towards the respiratory depression noticed in opioid overdoses. Between 2012 -2014, most opioid abusers were also binge drinkers, with almost 23% of people also experiencing concurrent AUD.

Bottom Line

More focus has to be put on why alcohol can be worse than opioids. Research results should be published and divulged to the public so that they may know the facts. The general community should have education on this matter so that they may avoid the pitfalls of alcoholism.

If you are looking for a professional institute dealing with cases of AUD and OUD finding the right treatment plans for them, contact us now before things worsen. Please read up on our comprehensive treatment plans to learn more.