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Hearing loss before 50 possible link to higher risk of alcohol & drug issues

drinking and hearing loss

There are numerous reasons why it is important for you to ensure you have a healthy hearing.  Avoiding a variety of medical difficulties down the line along with ensuring you aren’t disconnected from loved ones and friends are just a few.  However, a recent article in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine discovered another potential link between hearing difficulty and a life threatening-issue: alcoholism and drug addiction.

In the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, a team from the University of Michigan and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System describe their findings from data on 86,186 adults who took part in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.  In all, adults under 50 with hearing loss were more likely than others in their age group to have a substance use disorder of any kind, while those over 50 with hearing loss did not differ from their peers in rates of substance issues.

In an effort to weed out any possible inconsistencies, the researchers adjusted for differences in social, economic and mental health between the hearing and hard-of-hearing populations, however, that didn’t change things. Adults under age 35 with hearing loss were two and a half times more likely to have a prescription opioid use disorder. Those between the ages of 35 and 49 who had hearing loss were nearly twice as likely as their hearing peers to have disorders related to both prescription opioids and alcohol.

The article continues to explain that Michael McKee, M.D., M.P.H., the leader of the research, noticed that there was a disproportionate share of younger patients with hearing loss who found themselves struggling with substance abuse.  He stated, “Hearing loss is connected with a variety of health problems, including mental and physical health, that may place these individuals at risk for pain disorders… Also, the marginalizing effects of hearing loss, such as social isolation, may be creating higher rates of substance use disorders too.”

If you believe you are having difficulties, it is important to take action quickly to avoid any further damage. Schedule a FREE hearing test.


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