Hearing loss before 50 may raise drug abuse risk

People below 50 years who suffer from hearing loss are more likely to misuse opioids, alcohol and other drugs than their peers who have no such disorder, say researchers.



The findings showed adults under 35 years with a hearing loss were 2.5 times more likely to have a prescription opioid use disorder.

In addition, those between age 35 years and 49 years who had hearing loss were nearly twice as likely as their hearing peers to have disorders related to both prescription opioids and alcohol, said the study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

For the study, the team included 86,186 adults.

“Hearing loss is connected with a variety of health problems, including mental and physical health, which 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,” said Michael McKee from University of Michigan in the US.

For those whose health care providers know of their hearing loss, McKee suspects that the higher rate of prescription opioid use disorder may stem from a higher rate of being placed on controlled substances to quickly address pain issues, perhaps because of communication barriers.

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