Alcoholism Shortens Lifespan By Nearly a Decade, Study Finds

By Brent McCluskey 04/09/15

Researchers concluded that excessive alcohol consumption damages both mind and body.

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Most are fully aware that heavy drinking is hard on the body, but a new study revealed alcoholism actually reduces one’s lifespan by an average of 7.6 years.

The long-term observational study, published in the journal European Psychiatry, compared 23,371 alcohol dependent hospital patients to 233,710 non-alcohol dependent hospital patients over the course of 12.5 years. The study found that those hospital patients who were alcohol dependent were at far greater risk of serious physical illness and death.

“During the observation period, approximately one out of five hospital patients with alcoholism died in one of the hospitals, while only one out of 12 patients in the control group died,” said Prof. Dr. Reinhard Heun from the Royal Derby Hospital in England.

The study revealed that alcoholism not only negatively impacts physical health, but also that it takes its toll on the mind as well. The findings show those patients who were addicted to alcohol needed psychotherapeutic care earlier and more intensively than those patients who were not addicted to alcohol.

“Mental problems as well as significant physical health impairments are associated with alcohol addiction,” said Dr. Dieter Schoepf from the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy of the University of Bonn Hospital. “Alcoholics who were treated in British general hospitals for health problems died an average of 7.6 years earlier than non-alcohol dependent patients; this is due to the interaction of several concomitant physical illnesses.”

Most patients with addiction problems are admitted to the hospital only when they are in need of serious medical attention. In those cases, the patients’ acute symptoms and immediate problems are solved, but the root cause of alcoholism remains unaddressed.

According to Heun, alcohol-dependent patients should seek treatment as early as possible in order to reduce the chance of serious illness and death.

“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,” said Heun.

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.