Overlooked Chronic Diseases: Alcohol and Substance Use
Consider the case of alcohol and substance abuse taken as a group of disorders.
Let’s compare these disorders to a well-recognized chronic disease such as hypertension. Substance abuse, like hypertension:
- has been shown to have a strong genetic heritability
- can be affected by behavior modification as well as diet
- can follow a course marked by exacerbation followed by periods of stability.
Both disorders can be associated with relapse, or exacerbation. For example, about 50% to 70% of adult patients with hypertension experience a worsening of their blood pressure or other disease-related signs or symptoms each year that requires additional medical intervention to reestablish control.
Substance use and abuse isn’t just about the substance, its about whole health.