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Does Alcohol Abuse Lead to Other Substance Abuse?

Alcohol is a part of society.  For most people it symbolizes fun and relaxations, helping people to release inhibitions and enjoy positive connections with friends and acquaintances.  However, for people with alcohol use disorder, drinking becomes a cycle of seeking a solution only to end up in a world of turmoil.  For people who abuse alcohol, there is a great propensity toward abuse of other substances.

Statistics and Data

People with alcohol use disorder are likely to develop drug use disorder, as well.  A study conducted in 2005 showed that approximately 15.3 million adults across America met the criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder.  Of that population, 2.3 million met the criteria for drug use disorder, as well.

If you think yourself or a loved one needs help with alcohol abuse, call our helpline at 800-481-6965 (Who Answers?) today.

Personality Traits Leading to Substance Use Disorder

Other Substance Abuse

People with a neurotic personality are more likely to develop alcohol use disorders.

While much of the research does not support an “addictive personality”, there are specific character traits that seem to be linked to alcohol use disorder.  Adding alcohol to personality types who are prone to risky behaviors can multiply the likelihood of engaging in abuse of other substances, as well.

The following characteristics are prevalent in alcohol abusers which may also provide a catalyst for using other drugs:

  • Decreased inhibition
  • Avoidance coping
  • Impulsivity
  • Neuroticism
  • Lack of inhibition

Genetic Predisposition

Research comparing identical twins and fraternal twins confirmed the theory that a predisposition exists regarding risk of becoming alcoholic.  For certain people, the brain processes alcohol differently.  People with this genetic epidemiology are at much greater risk for alcohol and/or substance use disorder.

In Simple Language

When people drink alcohol, their inhibitions are lowered, making them more likely to engage in a variety of behaviors that might otherwise not occur.  How many times have people engaged in risky sexual behavior after a night of drinking?  People who are generally very responsible can sometimes find themselves behind the wheel of a car after drinking.  Given these common scenarios when alcohol is added, it makes sense that reasonable, well-intentioned people may try other substances when pressures are relieved with a few drinks.

Emotional and Mental Turmoil

People who are dependent upon alcohol and other substances struggle with emotional and mental turmoil.  The cycle leads to seeking relief using whatever substance necessary to dull the pain. The following is an example of a common cycle of someone with an alcohol or substance use disorder:

  1. Feeling serious emotional and mental discomfort
  2. Seeking relief from drinking or using other substances
  3. Feeling regret over excessive alcohol or drug use
  4. Repeating the cycle again and again

Anyone can find themselves trapped by the insidiousness of alcohol and drug abuse.

How Do I Find Help?

For persons who find themselves feeling trapped in the cycle of alcohol abuse or the abuse of other substances, finding help can stop the spiral downward.  Reaching out to local self-help groups may be one viable option.  For others who have been abusing alcohol and adding other substances, professional help may be the best course of action.  Finding a counselor or addiction specialist is invaluable on the beginning path toward recovery.

For help finding alcohol abuse treatment, call our toll-free helpline at 800-481-6965 (Who Answers?) .

Can Alcohol Abuse Make Other Substances More Dangerous?


Dick, D. & Agrawal, A. (2008). The genetics of alcohol and other drug dependence. Alcohol Research and Health. 31(2): 111-118. Retrieved on January 4, 2017 from:

Littlefield, A. & Sher, K. (2010). The multiple, distinct ways that personality contributes to alcohol use disorders. Soc Personal Psychology Compass. 4(9): 767-782. Retrieved on January 4, 2017 from:

NIH (2005). Other substance abuse. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved on January 4, 2017 from :

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