Every drug addiction story is a tragedy. When someone falls victim to the cycle of addiction, it adversely affects every aspect of their life: their job/work, personal relationships, and finances. In some cases, the collateral damage reaches a point where it becomes unmeasurable by any reasonable metric.
As a rule of thumb, the longer someone flounders under the grip of drugs or alcohol, the more significant their problems become. Eventually, everything starts falling apart, which is ultimately what leads many people into treatment.
What we haven’t mentioned yet is how drug addiction affects physical health. These effects of drug abuse warrant special attention. Indeed, drug addiction has the potential of causing a wide range of severe medical conditions.
If you have been involved in substance abuse for a long time, you really need to keep reading. In the following sections, we’ll talk about the specific dangers of drug abuse to your health. To be clear, the health dangers of drug abuse can vary by substance. Since we don’t know your substance of choice, we’re going to discuss the health effects of drug abuse by substance category.
We hope you’ll focus on this information. Your life could depend on you doing so.
Health Effects of Drug Abuse By Drug Category
No two drugs will affect your health in the same way. Some are more toxic to the human body than others. For that reason, we want to give specific details of drug abuse dangers by drug category. As we discuss this information, we will try to include the immediate, short-term, and long-term dangers.
If you’ve been abusing any of the following substances over time, you need to really focus on what you are reading. At the end of the day, this information could end up saving your life.
Before getting started, it’s worth mentioning that harmful drugs and alcohol have two dangers of drug abuse in common. First, they’re highly addictive, which causes the disease of addiction. Second, withdrawal symptoms are a side effect that comes with extended periods of abstinence. Withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous to your physical health and well being.
The immediate health effects of alcohol abuse are usually confined to impairment, which could lead to serious injuries from accidents. When someone continues drinking heavily for more than a month or two, the body damage begins to accumulate.
The primary target of alcohol is the liver. As alcohol is metabolized in the body, it enters the liver, where sugars get broken down. With excessive alcohol abuse, the liver is flooded with sugars. This acts to kill liver cells, which causes scarring of the liver walls. As the scarring worsens, the liver ceases to function properly. The medical profession calls this condition cirrhosis of the liver. When cirrhosis reaches a certain level, the liver will cease to expel toxins, which causes a life-threatening condition.
Other medical conditions that can be brought on by alcoholism include:
- Heart disease due to the buildup of fats and cholesterol, which causes blood clots
- Heart attacks and strokes brought on by blood pressure issues
- Brain damage brought on by damage to neurotransmitters
- Diminished effectiveness of the immune system
- Stomach ulcers and intestinal inflammation
Heroin and fentanyl are highly addictive and dangerous. With excessive abuse, the likelihood of a deadly overdose runs high.
The long-term dangers of drug abuse with heroin/fentanyl include:
- Severe dental problems
- Severe chronic constipation, which causes irritable bowel syndrome
- Diminished immune system, which increases susceptibility to diseases and infections
- Poor appetite and malnutrition
- Issues with sexual function
- Loss of motor control
Cocaine is a powerful stimulant. As such, the drug increases the heart rate, sometimes to dangerous levels. Over time, cocaine abuse will result in severe heart problems, including heart attacks and strokes.
Other dangers of drug abuse associated with cocaine include:
- Chronic headaches
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Severe respiratory problems
- Damage to nostrils from snorting
- Stomach damage due to ingestion
- Severe bowel gangrene
The Health Effects of Drug Abuse: Meth
Meth is a synthetic drug that comes out of amateur laboratories. The ingredients rogue manufacturers use to make meth include lots of toxins. These are equal opportunity toxins that will attack almost every part of the body.
The common long-term health effects include:
- Permanent damage to the heart and brain
- Increases in blood pressure and heart rate that can lead to heart attacks and strokes
- Acne scarring
- Severe dental problems that doctors refer to as “meth mouth”
- Damage to the respiratory system
- Sleeping problems
- Liver and kidney damage
Prescription Drugs (opioids, benzos, stimulants, sleeping pills)
In the right hands, prescription medications can relieve pain and lessen the effects of anxiety and panic disorders. In the wrong hands, prescription medications can be just as dangerous as any of the other substances we mention above.
The dangers of drug abuse associated with prescription painkiller misuse include:
- Heart problems
- Loss of motor control
- Chronic Constipation
- Onset of depression that could lead to suicide
- Breathing problems
- Chronic sleeping problems
Battling the Dangers of Drug Abuse With Addiction Treatment
As you can see, a long-term addiction problem often comes with severe physical consequences. Quite literally, you are putting your health and overall well being at risk every time you abuse drugs or alcohol. That’s not going to turn out well for you in the long run. With that said, you can continue down the path of destruction or step forward and seek treatment.
Assuming you’re ready to make the latter choice, you need to know the path to recovery is through the door of a rehab facility like ours. As you enter rehab, the administrative staff will ask you questions about your addiction problem. Based on the answers you give, they will prescribe you a custom treatment program.
If you have never been through addiction treatment, you might be a little wary about the process. To ease your mind, we are going to discuss the three steps of addiction treatment. They include:
- Going through a medically monitored detox program
- Attending intensive individual and group therapy sessions
- Maintaining sobriety through aftercare programs
In a prior section, we briefly discussed withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal symptoms are the body and mind’s way of demanding drugs or alcohol during abstinence. As you go through your withdrawal symptoms, you would be exposed to some medical conditions that can cause permanent body damage.
The goal of a medically monitored detox program is to ensure you can deal with your withdrawal issues without pain and discomfort. If you were to exhibit these problems, the medical staff would be there to help. While a natural detox process is always preferable, doctors can intervene with relief medications if necessary.
After completing the detox process, your body and mind should be clear. That’s where you want to be so you can attack therapy with focus and commitment.
While working with a therapist, your job would be to focus on figuring out your addiction’s “whys.” You need to know why you feel the need to hide from your problems behind the tree of addiction. If you find the root causes of your addiction, that will become the target of your therapy.
Let’s take a look at the treatment options you can choose based on your addiction’s severity.
While participating in an inpatient treatment program, you would have to reside in the rehab facility 24/7. During the day, you would participate in individual and group therapy sessions. If family issues exist, family therapy would also be a viable option.
In the evenings, you would have time to relax and interact with other residents. You would also get an opportunity to participate in group activities, recreational programs, and enjoy the rehab facilities amenities.
If you were to reject the concept of residential treatment for any reason, you could try outpatient treatment. As part of outpatient treatment, you would still attend therapy sessions. However, you would be able to live at home after a long day of therapy.
If you were to choose the outpatient route, the rehab facility would place you in one of three programs. The depth of your addiction would dictate the option they would prescribe. Of the three options, partial hospitalization is by far the most restrictive. You would need to partake in therapy at least five days a week for at least eight hours each day.
Down one level is intensive outpatient care. With this option, you would need to report for therapy at least three days a week and spend up to six hours in treatment every day. Finally, a general outpatient program might suffice if your addiction is moderate, and you can behave responsibly.
After graduating from treatment, you would presumably be ready to return home and resume living your life without facing the dangers of drug abuse. If you need a little more help to get over the hump of recovery, you can try any of the following aftercare options:
- Living in a sober living environment
- Participating in AA or NA
- Scheduling additional outpatient sessions
- Participating in alumni programs
Let Phoenix Rising Recovery Help You
Long before you encounter any of the negative health effects of drug abuse, you should commit to treatment. That’s where we can help. Our Palm Springs rehab facility will help you get back on your feet and into society free of drugs. When you are ready to say goodbye to substance abuse, you should contact us immediately.