This article was written in conjunction with American Addiction Centres.
Drug and alcohol addiction cause a wide variety of complications as a result of their use. The longer someone uses or drinks, the more damage that will be caused to their body, ultimately cutting your lifespan short.
Use our interactive addiction calculator to see how much damage has been caused has already been done and how much time your previous substance use has cut short, and if you continue to drink or use, how much more time will it cutoff your expected lifespan.
- New website has calculated the cost of an addiction in years and hours
- Smoking a pack of 20 cigarettes a day cuts ten years off a person’s life
- Drinking two or more alcoholic drinks every day cuts 23 years off a life
- Cocaine addicts lose up to 34 years, with each line or pipe costing 5.6 hours
- Methadone users cut their lives by 38 years, and die at an average age of 41
- A heroin addiction will cut 42 years off a person’s life, killing them at age 38
- Lifetime methamphetamine users lose 42 years, each dose costing 11 hours
A new website has worked out how much time a smoker, alcoholic or a drug addict will lose, each time they use.
Alcoholics cut their lives short by 23 years, while chronic cocaine users lose 34 years, it adds.
Each time a heroin addict takes a normal dose of the drug, they cut almost 23 hours off their life. Methadone cuts almost 13 hours and cocaine cuts 5 hours, the website claims.
Mephamphetamine addicts live to an average age of just 38, while heroin addicts don’t fare much better, dying at on average at just 38 years old.
The website’s creators have also worked out how many minutes or hours each single dose will cost an addict.
One line of cocaine takes a chronic user five minutes closer to death, while a single methadone pill costs a user almost 13 hours.
All the data came from official sources including the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHS, records of annual UK hospital admissions and various research findings from UK universities.
Jake Tri, project manager for the website said it was formed after the developers heard comments about how much time smoking a cigarette costs a person and wanted to find out the exact figure.
The Longer Term Damage That Addiction Causes & Its Toll On Their Quality Of Life
Below we list some of the most common damage that drugs cause to their user and those around them. These aren’t just physical but we have included them to.
The damage that addiction can cause include the following, but not limited to:
- Circulatory/heart conditions/disease
- Damage to skin and it’s underlying structures
- Damage to your senses (eyes, vision, touch and smell ect)
- Damage to the brain, both physically and chemically
- Organ damage such as liver cirrhosis or heart failure
- A wide range of mental health conditions
- Suicidal ideations
- Financial problems & debt
- Loss of family, friends, colleagues and others
- Loss/damage to their employment or career prospects and opportunities
- Criminal convictions, prison sentences and criminal records
- Loss of their home/accommodation
- Loss of children through social services (CPS if you’re American)
- Damage to your physical appearance
- Impacts on your personal hygiene
- Loss of cars or other forms of transportation
- Infections or lowered immune system
- Death or permanent damage from overdosing
- Declined travelling to certain other countries
- Many, many others
Understanding how addictions develop can help you to better understand the addiction process and how to reverse the damage caused as best as possible. You can learn about the science of addiction and Medication assisted treatment programs (MAT) by clicking here.
How Do People End Up With Addictions?
Anyone can become addicted to a wide variety of things such as sports/exercise, food, sugar, sex, shopping, gambling, porn and others. You can learn more about addictions and how using or drinking recreationally turns into a physical and psychological dependency to these substances.
The Addiction Calculator
Here, you can access an interactive addiction calculator that will allow you to see just how much damage your substance use has caused upto now. They also show you how much more damage will be caused if you continue to use or drink as you currently do or how much your life will be cut short as a result of your addiction.
12 Steps to Change Unhealthy Habits
- Identify the habits you want to change This means bringing what is usually unconscious (or at least ignored) to your awareness. It does not mean beating yourself up about it. Make a list of things you’d like to change, and then pick one.
- Look at what you are getting out of it In other words, how is your habit serving you? Are you looking for comfort in food? Numbness in wine? An outlet or connection online? Stress alleviation through eating or nail biting? This doesn’t have to be a long, complex process. You’ll figure it out—and you’ll have some good ideas about how to switch it up for healthier outcomes.
- Honor your own wisdom Here’s a common scenario: You feel like you have no down-time, so you stay up way too late binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix. You know you’ll be exhausted and less productive the next day, but you feel “entitled” to something fun, just for you. Your wisdom, however, knows this is not a healthy way to get it. Use that wisdom to build something into your schedule that will provide what you really want. Realise you do have the answers and are capable of doing something different.
- Choose something to replace the unhealthy habit Just willing yourself to change isn’t enough because it does not address the underlying benefit of the behaviour you want to replace. What can you do instead of standing in front of the fridge when you’re stressed? If you have a plan, you will be “armed” with tools and a replacement behavior. Next time you catch yourself not hungry but standing in front of the refrigerator anyway, try a replacement behaviour. Some ideas: Breathe in to the count of 4 and breathe out to the count of 8, focusing only on your breathing. Do that 4 times and see how you feel. If you need more support, stand there until you come up with one reason why you shouldn’t continue with this habit. This is a key step. When you do something different to replace an unhealthy habit, acknowledge to yourself that you are doing it differently. You need to bring whatever it is that is subconscious to the conscious mind so that you can emphasize your ability to change. It can be as simple as saying to yourself, “Look at that. I made a better choice.”
- Remove triggers If Doritos are a trigger, throw them out on a day you feel strong enough to do so. If you crave a cigarette when you drink socially, avoid social triggers—restaurants, bars, nights out with friends. This doesn’t have to be forever—just for a while, until you feel secure in your new habit. Sometimes certain people are our triggers. Remember that you end up being like the five people you hang out with most. Look at who those people are: Do they inspire you or do they drag you down? You can learn more about triggers, lapses and relapses here.
- Visualise yourself changing Serious visualisation retrains your brain. In this case, you want to think differently about your ability to change—so spend some time every day envisioning yourself with new habits. Picture yourself exercising and enjoying it, eating healthy foods, or fitting into those jeans. See yourself engaged in happy conversation with someone instead of standing in the back of the room. This kind of visualisation really works. The now familiar idea that “nerves that fire together wire together” is based on the idea that the more you think about something—and do it—the more it becomes wired in your brain. Your default choice can actually be a healthier one for you.
- Monitor your negative self-talk The refrain in your brain can seriously affect your default behaviours. So when you catch yourself saying, “I’m fat” or “No one likes me,” reframe it or redirect it. Reframing is like rewriting the script. Replace it with, “I’m getting healthy, or “My confidence is growing.” Redirecting is when you add to your negative self-talk of “I’m fat” with “But I’m working my way into a healthier lifestyle.” Judging yourself only keeps you stuck. Retrain the judgmental brain.
- Take baby steps, if necessary Even if you can’t fully follow through with a new habit right away, do something small to keep yourself on track. For example, if you’ve blocked out an hour to exercise and you suddenly have to go to a doctor’s appointment, find another time to squeeze in at least 15 minutes. That way, you’ll reinforce your new habit, even if you can’t commit 100 percent.
- Accept that you will sometimes falter We all do. Habits don’t change overnight. Love yourself each time you do and remind yourself that you are human.
- Know that it will take time Habits usually take several weeks to change. You have to reinforce that bundle of nerves in your brain to change your default settings.
- Change your environment to be a more positive and productive place to promote your growth in recovery. Find out how to change your environment here.
- Forgive yourself for lapses. They are a part of learning to identify triggers and implementing coping strategies when they occur. Find out how to use lapses/relapses as learning opportunities here.
You can also use mindfulness and other techniques and skills to boost your chances of succeeding for the longer term. Creating and implementing a daily recovery plan can also help to ensure that you meet your daily needs by providing structure and stability for your rocky and unstable life at present. They also ensure that you actively focus on your recovery whilst having fun in the process. Find out how to create and implement your own daily recovery plan here.
Bring the process to your awareness by writing it down. It is very easy to forget a new plan that is conceived with best intentions, but never reinforced. For maximum success, take 15 minutes to plan out your new habit, pen in hand.
And yes, you can do this.
Want Help & Support For Your Addiction Or Substance Use?
You can find contact information for a wide range of groups, charities and organisations who can help. You can find their information on our help and support page here.
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