“The ICSD scores lend support to the widely accepted view that alcohol is an extremely harmful drug both to users and to society.” Alcoholism and drug addiction have similar symptoms and can be treated using the same techniques. Alcohol addiction is simply a form of the larger category of drug addiction, so they each are intertwined together. Many experts will disagree between the similarities and differences between drug and alcohol addictions because both are forms of addiction. Are there differences between being addicted to alcohol and being addicted to a drug of another kind? Sure – though, at the end of the long day, all addictions have more in common than what distinguishes them from each other.

SUDs and other mental health conditions are caused by overlapping factors such as genetic vulnerabilities, issues with similar areas of your brain and environmental influences. In the past, healthcare providers, organizations and members of the public often used the terms “addiction/addict,” “abuse/abuser” and “dependence” when referring to substance use. Then there is the far-reaching damage that alcohol causes. This can be measured both individually and societally, in terms of harm to users and others.


At high doses, they can cause seizures, coma and death. The alcohol vs drugs danger increases when these drugs are taken with alcohol.

alcohol vs drugs

We joke about having too many margaritas; we do not joke about deciding to roll up our sleeve and inject heroin. 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 . They suggest that having two diagnostic categories may be misleading. Adolescents are especially at risk for developing SUD due to exposure. Adolescents who start using substances early are more likely to develop an SUD. About 70% percent of people who began using at age 13 have an SUD compared to 27% who started at age 17.

How can I help a loved one with substance use disorder?

Reach out to a treatment provider for free today for immediate assistance. How COVID-19 Has Impacted Alcohol AbuseAs the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the numbers of alcohol abuse have continued to rise, causing concern across America. A treatment facility paid to have their center promoted here. Kelly Fitzgerald is a sober writer based in Southwest Florida who is best known for her personal blogThe Adventures of a Sober Señorita. Her work has been published across the web including sites like The Huffington Post, Thought Catalog, Ravishly, SheKnows, Elite Daily, The Fix, Brit + Co, Addiction Unscripted and AfterPartyMagazine.

  • Get help from the Student Health Center or Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital.
  • In the chart we see the breakdown of deaths from substance use disorders by age.
  • Over 20 million people in the United States have at least one SUD.
  • Marijuana can have significant health effects on youth and pregnant women.
  • If you do start using the drug, it’s likely you’ll lose control over its use again — even if you’ve had treatment and you haven’t used the drug for some time.

The term “substance use disorder” allows for more clarity in diagnosis. SUD also recognizes a spectrum of problematic substance use, not just physiologic addiction. A person can have more than one substance use disorder at a time, such as alcohol use disorder and cocaine use disorder.

Substance Use Disorder (SUD)

Sometimes called the “opioid epidemic,” addiction to opioid prescription pain medicines has reached an alarming rate across the United States. Some people who’ve been using opioids over a long period of time may need physician-prescribed temporary or long-term drug substitution during treatment. Neuroscience research shows that alcohol impairs the formation of new memories and learning, especially in the developing brain–and as college-aged students, your brains are still developing. Alcohol use can cause both short term and long-term problems for those who choose to use it. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant whose effects depend on how much you drink.

What is the purpose of drugs and alcohol?

People use alcohol and other drugs (AOD) for a variety of reasons: to relax. for enjoyment. to be part of a group.