Alcohol and drug use greatly and negatively affect millions of Americans in a variety of ways. Psychological effects, societal problems, and physical issues are all related to alcohol and drug use. Furthermore, a new study from the Massachusetts General Hospital Recovery Research Institute finds that more than a third of people who are recovering from an alcohol or substance use disorder continue to suffer from chronic physical diseases. This study is the first to explore the national prevalence of medical conditions frequently caused or intensified by chronic alcohol and drug use among people in addiction recovery.

The Study

The study examined information and data from the National Recovery Survey, which sampled 2,000 United States adults who classify themselves as recovering from drugs or alcohol. Of this sample studied, 37% of the participants were diagnosed with one or more of the following diseases which are worsened by alcohol or drug use:

  • Liver disease
  • HIV/AIDS or Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Hepatitis C
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes

The presence of these diseases is associated with reductions in the participant’s quality of life, and all are related to decreases in life expectancy.

The study found that among those in recovery, levels of COPD, heart disease, diabetes, and hepatitis C were higher within this group when compared with the general population. Significantly higher was the prevalence of Hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, and other STIs among opioid and stimulant users. Alternatively, those recovering from opioid addiction had the lowest prevalence of heart disease.


Generally, the study found that younger people with social stability and access to economic resources such as being employed, married, or having higher education, were protected against having physical diseases associated with addiction. Furthermore, being female, Hispanic, or having a household income of over $50,000 also protected against these physical diseases. This study emphasizes the fact that negative impacts may continue to affect the quality of life, even when people achieve recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol.

Need Help?

Alcohol and drug use permeate our society. Chronic diseases can be fostered or even made worse by the use of drugs and alcohol. Yet when recovery is achieved, the negative impacts of drug and alcohol use may continue to affect the quality of life negatively. Recovery is possible, and there is hope. At Fort Worth Recovery, we offer a nurturing space to support clients on their road to recovery. We seek to inspire clients to face their challenges and foster hope for their future. If you or a loved one is struggling with opioid addiction, call us today at 817-381-9741 or visit us online.


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