Alcohol and tobacco, although legal and highly consumed in the United States, causes more harm to individuals around the world than illegal drugs. 


Loss of Life Due to Alcohol and Tobacco

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in 2015 that there are 85 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) lost to alcohol use, and over 170 million lost to tobacco use. DALYs measure the overall disease burden due to ill-health or early death, and a disability-adjusted life year equals one lost year of a healthy life. Together, alcohol and tobacco account for a total of almost 266 million lost years of life. Comparatively, the number of lost life years worldwide due to illegal drugs, such as opioids, cocaine, marijuana, and amphetamines, equals just under 28 million years. 


Percentages of Alcohol and Tobacco Use Worldwide

Over 18 percent of adults in the entire world report having at least one episode of heavy alcohol use within the past month. Similarly, over 15 percent of all adults in the world report daily tobacco use. Conversely, less than four percent of adults worldwide report regular marijuana use, while percentages for amphetamines, cocaine, and opioids equal less than one percent of the world’s adult population.   


The Dangers of Alcohol

Excessive drinking is harmful to one’s health, as evidenced by the millions of years of life lost due to its use. Essentially, excessive alcohol use shortened the lives of those who died due to its use by an average of 30 years. The health risks of excessive alcohol use may be short-term or long-term.

Short-Term Health Risks include:

  • Injuries, including burns, drownings, falls, and vehicle crashes.
  • Violence, such as sexual assault, domestic violence, homicide, or suicide.
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Promiscuous and risky sexual behaviors, possibly resulting in STD’s or unintentional pregnancy
  • Miscarriages or stillbirth in pregnant women

Long-Term Health Risks include:

  • Developing chronic diseases, such as liver disease and heart disease
  • Cancer, involving the mouth, throat, colon, liver, or breasts
  • High blood pressure, strokes, or digestive issues
  • Problems with memory and learning processes
  • Mental health issues, including anxiety and depression
  • Social problems
  • Family problems
  • Alcohol use disorder (AUD)


Are You Seeking Help with A Substance Use Disorder?

By not drinking excessively, or not at all, you can reduce the risk of developing these short-term and long-term health risks. Although alcohol and tobacco use are legal activities, that does not mean that they are healthy, or that they will not affect your life in negative ways through their use. Problems arise when one consumes or imbibes excessively in a short period, or over long periods. The loss of life due to the use of these legal substances points to a need to focus on education and prevention to drop these staggering numbers.


At Alta Loma Transformational Living, you will meet knowledgeable, compassionate professionals that understand addiction in all its forms.  Alta Loma uses an integrative and holistic approach to treat addiction and mental health issues. No treatment is one-size-fits-all, where you will have a team of experts prepared to create your customized treatment plan.  We offer care for your mind, body, and spirit, so that you can heal from the inside out and look forward to a lifetime of sobriety and wellness. If you are ready to take the first step in your recovery, please call us at 866-457-3843.