The long-term effects of substance misuse are still being revealed. While many believe that they are only harming themselves when misusing drugs or alcohol, even the extent of that type of harm remains largely unknown. One recent study reveals that alcohol and cannabis misuse can accelerate the aging process.

Study Finds That Alcohol and Cannabis Misuse Accelerate Aging

A new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease reveals that prolonged alcohol and cannabis use can accelerate aging. Thought to be the most extensive study of its kind, researchers analyzed the brain scans of over 31,000 people with ages ranging from 9 months to 105 years.

Researchers describe how they were able to identify “patterns of aging” in the studied scans. Participants had two SPECT scans each and the people in the study all had a psychiatric condition such as bipolar disorder, ADHD or schizophrenia. There were several patterns that emerged, but researches also concluded that aging was strongly associated with alcohol and cannabis use.

In the study, researchers concluded that several behaviors or conditions predicted accelerated aging. Specifically, cannabis and alcohol misuse were responsible for 2.8 years and 0.6 years of premature aging respectively among study participants. Other conditions that contributed to premature aging included schizophrenia (4 years), bipolar disorder (1.6 years), and ADHD (1.4 years).

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Substance Misuse?

Whether you are misusing drugs or alcohol, if you do so long enough, there is a higher chance that you will suffer from some unpleasant emotional and health consequences. The long-term effects of marijuana use can involve damage to the lungs and cardiovascular system. Cannabis smokers have increased rates of COPD, lung cancer and even heart attack and stroke.

There is also a risk of cognitive impairment with marijuana misuse. Researchers have found that heavy marijuana use among adolescents leads to poor memory. There is also a link between marijuana use and mental illness.

The long-term effects of alcohol use can be varied and devastating. Alcohol is a depressant that can worsen other mental health conditions. Its misuse can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, gastrointestinal issues and chronic liver disease.

Woman's hands holding a lit joint and a beer.

There are dangerous long-term effects related to marijuana and alcohol misuse.

Where Can You Turn if You Have a Substance Use Disorder?

If you are struggling with a substance use disorder, you don’t have to do so alone. A common fear relates to withdrawal symptoms as well as a future without using substances. The qualified and compassionate addiction treatment team at The Recovery Village can help you manage the transition to recovery with a minimum of discomfort.

No one wants to take additional years which could be spent with loved ones off of their life. Getting help as soon as possible could be the best thing you do for your short and long-term health as well as your overall sense of wellbeing. Contact us now to speak with one of our addiction specialists about your options for admission.

Brain Imaging Study Finds Alcohol and Cannabis Misuse Accelerate Aging
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