Substance abuse is one of the biggest problems facing the United States. In fact, over 20 million Americans suffer from a substance use disorder, also known as SUD. SUDs are often used interchangeably with addiction, despite the fact that they are defined as a mental health condition. Addiction is more severe, with the individual unable to quit using the drugs despite the negative side effects.
Although alcohol and drug addiction are treatable, many people wait until the negative effects have dangerously impacted their bodies or formed potentially life-threatening health risks before seeking help. The following is a brief look at a few serious consequences of addiction and how they can affect the user’s mind, body, and long-term health.
To begin with, the use of illegal drugs and psychoactive substances can have serious consequences for our most important organ. How so? The parts of the brain responsible for risk, reward, and pleasure are activated and flooded with dopamine when a “high” is produced. The user’s constant pursuit of euphoria can result in either temporary or permanent neurological changes.
Short-term mental effects of drug abuse include difficulty concentrating, aggression, lack of inhibition, and even hallucinations. These are minor in comparison to the long-term consequences of declining psychological and neurological abilities. Anxiety and depression are two examples, as are permanent cognitive decline and psychosis. When combined, various drugs can worsen symptoms and accelerate decline in people who already have a mental health problem.
Moving down the body, the use of various illegal substances, tobacco, and alcohol can result in serious oral health issues. These effects, which can range from tooth decay to certain types of cancer, can then lead to other health issues, such as digestion. When it comes to digestion, substance abuse can severely harm the liver, kidneys, stomach, and other parts of the digestive system. This damage can be severe enough to result in cirrhosis of the liver, kidney disease, or liver disease.
Addicts’ hearts and lungs are also vulnerable to severe damage, disease, and various forms of cancer. For example, alcohol and most drugs have been linked to cardiovascular problems that affect the performance of the heart and blood vessels. The vascular system’s damage and strain can result in irregular heartbeat, heart attack, stroke, and death. Inhaling or smoking can harm the lungs and increase the risk of bronchitis, lung cancer, and other serious diseases.
Whether it’s excessive alcohol consumption, prescription drug abuse, or the use of other, more dangerous illicit substances, the consequences of long-term abuse can be severe. As a result, it is critical that those suffering from drug addiction seek treatment for this dangerous and complex disease. If you or someone you know is battlign with substance abuse or addiction, there are hotlines, detox programs, and outpatient care professionals available to assist you.
Please see the accompanying resource for more information on the potential effects of addiction on different parts of the body.