Almost everyone knows that heavy drug and alcohol use is bad for both the mind and the body. But just how much time does each drag of a cigarette or mixed drink shave off of your life? Is it a few minutes? A few hours? A few days?
In just one question: what does the life expectancy data for the worst addictions look like?
The answer depends on the type of drug you are using, how often you use it, and how long you have been using it. But at least one thing is clear: heavy drug use (including drinking and smoking) is always bad for your health.
“Even as a junkie I stayed true to vegetarianism – ‘I shall have heroin, but I shan’t have a hamburger.’ What a sexy little paradox.”
~ Russell Brand
There are many different healthful choices that you can make in this life. But there’s no question about it: overcoming drug or alcohol addiction is the best thing that you can do for your physical and mental health.
Addressing the Most Pressing Questions About Addiction & Life Expectancy
In many cases, addiction and drug abuse can cost you your life. Even when addiction doesn’t lead to death, it means limited time in many other areas: healthy living, healthy relationships, healthy employment, and a healthy mind.
Often, it can be these secondary negative effects that lower life expectancy in the face of drug addiction or alcoholism.
To determine just how badly drug and alcohol addiction impacts your health, we turn to the life expectancy data for various addictions. In this post, we address all of your most pressing questions about the life expectancy data for addiction:
- What does the addiction crisis in the US look like?
- Is casual drug use dangerous? Does it affect your life expectancy?
- How dramatically does drug and alcohol use lower life expectancy?
- What is the life expectancy of tobacco smokers?
- What is the life expectancy of alcoholics?
- What is the life expectancy of an opiate addict?
- What is the life expectancy of a cocaine addict?
- How long do drug addicts live?
- How can you chose to overcome addiction and these life expectancy statistics?
Out of all of these questions, the most important is about addiction recovery. It is crucial to understand that no matter how long you have suffered from addiction, hope is not out of reach. Use this post as a starting guide to addiction recovery.
The Danger in Addiction – Understanding the Addiction Crisis in the US
Addiction is not some rare phenomenon, hidden in the abandoned buildings and old gas stations of this country. No; addiction affects millions of Americans each and every day. And it’s only growing.
To get a full picture of the addiction crisis facing the United States, consider the following statistics:
- Over 20 million Americans currently suffer from a substance abuse disorder.
- Around 15% of adults will develop some form of addiction at some point in their life.
- Opioid overdose deaths account for the most accidental deaths in the United States – more than car accidents.
- Around 350 people die from their drug or alcohol abuse each and every day in the United States.
- Only 10% of those suffering from a substance abuse disorder will actually get treatment for the problem.
These statistics show that the issue is not limited to cocaine or heroin addicts – though opioids are a huge part of the epidemic in the United States.
Either way, it is clear that addiction is becoming increasingly common in the United States. Whether the drug is alcohol or prescription opioids, there is a clear and present danger in addiction.
So how many years does drinking or drug use take off your life?
The Danger in Drug Use – How Even ‘Casual’ Drug & Alcohol Use Can Lower Your Life Expectancy
Before jumping into the life expectancy of an alcoholic or the life expectancy of drug users, it is worth noting that any kind of heavy drug or alcohol use can substantially decrease your health and lower your life expectancy.
For instance, it isn’t worth talking about the dangers of crystal meth without also pointing out just how deadly smoking cigarettes can be. Not only is tobacco detrimental to your health, but it can also increase your risks from other, harder substances.
“Of everything we’re going to talk about, the single most significant thing that people could do is quit smoking. All the other health risks you have from the other substances increase by 50 percent if you smoke.”
~ Adam Winstock, founder of Global Drug Survey
Insight: Cigarettes and alcohol can be almost as damaging to your health as heroin or cocaine over the long term. Is it worth the risk?
Similarly, many people will refuse to touch cocaine, but will throw back a few drinks every single night and go crazy with drinking at parties every weekend. These are dangerous patterns, and can significantly impact your physical health – not to mention increase your likelihood of developing a substance use disorder.
“From a purely physiological point of view, alcohol is really linked to a lot of problems. The majority of deaths due to alcohol are due to alcohol-related cancers, and of course the risks will be increased with length of exposure.”
~Harry Sumnall, professor in substance use at the Public Health Institute
All of this is to say that it is not just crack cocaine and heroin that are dangerous to your health. Every kind of heavy drug use, from cigarettes to alcohol to crystal meth, has some kind of negative impact on your health.
You should keep this danger in mind before the next time you light up a cigarette or go on a bender.
Not the Lesser of the Evils: Life Expectancy for Tobacco Smokers
When talking about the ‘worst addictions,’ you may not immediately think of tobacco. But cigarettes and other tobacco products dramatically affect the physical health of those who use them. In fact, cigarettes are responsible for nearly half a million deaths every year in the United States. Clearly, the life expectancy for tobacco smokers is lower than for those who do not smoke at all.
“Overall mortality among both male and female smokers in the United States is about three times higher than that among similar people who never smoked. The major causes of excess mortality among smokers are diseases that are related to smoking, including cancer and respiratory and vascular disease.”
~ Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
To get a full picture of the life expectancy for tobacco smokers, consider the following statistics from the Centers for Disease & Prevention:
- Tobacco use is the #1 preventable cause of death in the United States.
- Smoking cigarettes accounts for one in every five deaths in the United States each and every year.
- Cigarette smoking causes an estimated 480,000 deaths every year.
- Life expectancy for smokers is about 10 years shorter than for those who do not smoke at all.
- The good news: if you quit smoking cigarettes before the age of 40, your reduce your risk of death from a smoking-related disease by a full 90 percent.
Tobacco addiction may not always be considered the ‘worst addiction’ in the United States, but it is certainly dangerous once you consider its impact on the life expectancy for tobacco smokers.
Heavy Consequences for Heavy Drinking: Life Expectancy of an Alcoholic
Alcohol addiction is a very real issue for millions of Americans, and millions of more people across the world. Based on existing research, there is no question that heavy drinking and alcoholism has a heavy impact on physical health, and in turn the life expectancy of an alcoholic.
“Alcoholism reduces life expectancy by about 10 – 12 years. The earlier people begin drinking heavily, the greater their chance of developing serious illnesses later on.”
~ The New York Times Health Guide
Heavy drinking and alcoholism places the alcoholic at a higher risk of serious diseases and health complications, including stroke, diabetes, and heart attack. The life expectancy of an alcoholic is substantially lowered due to these health effects.
In other words, an alcohol overdose is not the only kind of alcohol-related death. Over the long-term, alcoholism affects the liver, the heart, the lungs, and the brain. It’s no wonder that the life expectancy of an alcoholic is at least a decade lower than non-drinkers’.
Unintended Consequences: Life Expectancy of an Opiate Addict
When people talk about the addiction crisis in the United States, what most of them are really talking about is the opioid crisis in the country.
Between a sharp rise in prescriptions for pain relieving opioids and an increasing number of people turning to heroin as a cheaper alternative, opioid addiction has been running rampant across the United States. No matter the form – prescription painkillers, heroin, and even methadone – opioids dramatically reduce the life expectancy of addicts.
“Opioid drugs — including both legally prescribed painkillers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone, as well as illegal drugs such as heroin or illicit fentanyl — are not only killing Americans, they are shortening their overall life spans. Opioids take about 2½ months off our lives.”
~ Nadia Kounang, writing for CNN
More specifically, Heroin is one of the worst addictions out there. In fact, the drug may cost heavy users nearly three days in life expectancy every time that they shoot up with heroin, according to a recent project from Treatment4Addiction. Similarly, the life expectancy of a pain pill addict is dramatically reduced, as the reporter from CNN notes here.
- Fact: The life expectancy of a methadone addict is just 40 years. This means that the average methadone addict loses at least 38 years of life.
- Fact: The life expectancy of a heroin addict is 37 years. This means that the average heroin addict loses over forty years of life.
The life expectancy of someone on methadone may not be as critical as the life expectancy of a heroin addict, but there is no question that the life expectancy of an opiate addict – in any form – is lower than the national average.
Partying Hard Doesn’t Pay: Life Expectancy of a Coke Addict
Hard drugs are popular for their heavy effects, but these effects rarely last long. In their place comes a crippling addiction to the the drug in an effort to just feel normal. This is precisely the case with cocaine, which is why the life expectancy of a coke addict is so low.
In an effort to keep up with the drug’s effects, many people end up taking multiple ‘lines’ of cocaine each and every day. This daily dose of cocaine can cost a cocaine addict more than a day and a half of life for each day the drug is used.
- The life expectancy of a coke addict is 44 years – this means the average cocaine addict loses 44% of their life.
- Using 6 lines of cocaine every day translates into over 33 hours of life lost.
- Just one line of cocaine can cost a cocaine addict over 5 hours of life.
Of course, cocaine itself is not always the direct cause of death for cocaine addicts. The lowered life expectancy of a coke addict is also impacted by taking increased risks and using other substances.
How Long Do Drug Addicts Live? Using an Addiction Calculator
If a picture speaks a thousand words, then the image that addiction statistics create can speak a thousand more. All of the life expectancy data makes it clear that addiction translates into limited time for those suffering from the addiction.
The life expectancy of drug users – whether a coke addict or an alcoholic – is significantly lower than for those who do not use or abuse drugs.
To help make this picture even more crystal clear, we encourage you to use an addiction calculator. An addiction calculator is exactly what it sounds like: it tells you your adjusted life expectancy when you are addicted to cocaine, alcohol, tobacco, heroin, or other opioids.
Using an addiction calculator, you can put in what drug you use, how often you use it, and how long you have been using it. The calculator then tells you the average life expectancy of a drug addict in your similar situation. Of course, this doesn’t predict your death – it simply shows you the statistical likelihood of having a much shorter life expectancy as a drug addict.
If nothing else, this should be a wake up call.
Doing Good With Limited Time – Choosing to Overcome the Life Expectancy Statistics of the Worst Addictions
The good news is that it is never too late to change. As the statistics showed above, quitting cigarettes or getting treatment for heroin can literally save your life and add decades back onto the life expectancy data.
You can choose to make a positive change, instead of resigning yourself to your limited time. For nearly any drug or alcohol addict, the first step in getting treatment is to go through drug or alcohol detox. From there, you can get the full treatment that you need and deserve.
If you have more questions about life expectancy data, the life expectancy of a drug addict, or how to get treatment as a drug user, do not hesitate to contact us today.