Long Term Alcohol Use Linked to Higher Injury Rate
A new study found that individuals addicted to alcohol who successfully complete detoxification are still more prone to injury, HealthScout News reported Feb. 15.
Researchers at Boston University found that drinking continues to cause harm long after a person quits or is treated for their addiction. Further, alcoholics were more prone to injury than drug users who had received similar treatment, the study found.
Researchers pointed out that damage to nerve endings in hands and feet is a known cause of chronic alcohol use. These nerve endings control balance and mobility.
"These people have had their bodies exposed to alcohol for a long time, and there are neurotoxic effects. These neurotoxic effects, one can make the case, may put one at risk of injury," said Dr. Jeffrey H. Samet, an associate professor of medicine and public health at Boston University and lead author of the study.
Samet also speculated that alcohol-dependent individuals could have "risk-taking personality traits, which may not only put them at risk for alcohol and drugs, but for injuries as well."
The study involved 470 patients from a detoxification unit in Boston, Mass. The participants were divided into three groups: alcohol-dependent, illicit-drug dependent, and poly-drug dependent.
Patients in each group were asked at different intervals of the 24-month study if they had suffered any of the following injuries: gunshot wound, stab wound, accidents or falls requiring medical attention, fractures or dislocation of bones or joints, head injury, or an injury from an accident involving a car or motorcycle.
Researchers found that 29 percent of those who were alcohol-dependent suffered an injury after detoxification, compared to 28 percent of the patients who were both alcohol- and illicit-drug dependent, and 16 percent of those who were drug-dependent.
The study’s findings are published in the current issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.