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Drug and alcohol misuse twice as likely for under-50s with hearing loss

Wednesday 27th March 2019
Younger people with hearing loss are more likely to misuse drugs and alcohol than their hearing peers, a new study concludes.
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People under the age of 50 with hearing loss are twice as likely to misuse prescription opioids than those with hearing.

That is according to a study carried out by the University of Michigan and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System, which also discovered that there’s more chance they will have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and other drugs.

More than 86,000 adults took part in the survey, looking into how they used drugs. The results highlight how important it is for healthcare professionals to understand the impact that hearing loss can have on young adults.

The researchers found that under-50s with hearing loss were more likely to have a substance use disorder of any kind than others in their age group.

When it came to those who had passed this milestone birthday, there was no difference between them and their peers.

In order to ensure that social, economic and mental health factors did not influence the results, the scientists made appropriate adjustments.

Even so, the outcome was hard to ignore, with adults under the age of 30 with hearing loss being two and a half times as likely to have a prescription opioid problem than their hearing counterparts.

Meanwhile, the hearing impaired in the 35 to 49 age range had twice as much chance of having issues with both drugs and alcohol.

Dr Michael McKee decided to research the matter more thoroughly after noticing that a disproportionately large number of his young patients with hearing loss were struggling with harmful substances.

He said: "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 marginalising effects of hearing loss, such as social isolation, may be creating higher rates of substance use disorders too."

Written by James Puckle

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