Common Health Conditions Caused by Addiction
Addiction is a serious condition that affects many different aspects of a person’s life. As an individual becomes dependent on a drug, they end up needing more and more of a drug or alcohol. There are many negative health effects of drug abuse, some that can even be permanent. Whether a person is using a legal or illegal drug, there are always certain medical consequences of drug abuse.
Many people don’t consider the consequences of addiction until it is too late. Some people can fall deep into addiction and never end up getting the help they need. While there are several conditions and diseases caused by drugs, it is not too late to turn things around. If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction, Harmony Place may be able to help.
The Negative Health Effects of Drug Abuse
There are many different types of drugs, each varying in addictiveness and severity. Certain drugs can end up changing the brain’s chemistry while others can end up changing other systems in the body. As drug abuse continues, the body’s cardiovascular system, liver, brain, lungs, and other areas will be affected. We’ll be taking a look at some of the most common health effects and diseases caused by drugs.
As drug use continues to rise in the United States and abroad, it’s important to know the real consequences of addiction. In the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, it was found that 19.7 million Americans struggled with an alcohol use disorder. Over the years, this number has continued to increase. Unfortunately, as drug abuse continues so do the risks for serious diseases, illnesses, and in some cases, death. Don’t wait for things to get worse, let Harmony Place assist you or your loved one today.
The cardiovascular system is one of the most important parts of the human body and includes the heart and blood vessels. As the center point of the body, certain drugs can have a negative impact on a person’s heart. Drugs like stimulants can increase a person’s heart rate and cause constant strain. On the other hand, depressants slow down the heart.
This change in blood pressure can create several different cardiovascular problems like:
- Blood clots
- Ischemic injury
- Aortic/coronary arterial dissection
Other cardiovascular problems may include:
- Respiratory virus infections
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome
- Risk of heart attacks, seizures, and other effects
While every drug will impact the body differently, addiction can have severe consequences. When it comes to the cardiovascular system, it’s important to understand the health effects of drug abuse and what that could mean in the future. This is especially true with drugs like heroin, cocaine, PCP, marijuana, methamphetamine, and other drugs.
Effects on the Immune System and Possible Infections
Another one of the many health effects of drug abuse is the risk of infection. This is a primary risk for drugs that are injected into a person’s veins. Many infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and other bacterial infections can develop from sharing dirty needles. Another way drugs can indirectly cause infection is through risky behavior and impaired judgment. Substances like alcohol, cocaine, and narcotics can affect someone’s judgment which can lead to unprotected sex or other risky behaviors.
Drugs like cocaine can also impact a person’s immune system negatively. This stops the body from being able to effectively produce white blood cells which impact the immune system’s response to infection. The consequences of addiction can go way beyond just infections, over time a person’s immune system can take its toll.
The respiratory system is also one of the body’s most important systems as it is responsible for sending oxygen through the body. Certain drugs that are smoked can have a serious impact on a person’s lungs. This makes the person’s upper respiratory system more vulnerable to infections and disease.
Certain central nervous system depressants like opioids can cause slowed breathing, as well as irregular or shallow breathing. If a person overdoses on these drugs, the body may experience hypoxia. Hypoxia occurs when certain parts of the body do not get the proper amount of oxygen. This can end up being deadly in some cases. In the long-term, if a person continues to experience depressed/reduced breathing, their body may be starved of oxygen. This can cause serious damage to other organs in the body.
In some cases, a person may decide to mix certain drugs with conflicting effects, for example, depressants and stimulants may have opposite effects. While depressants slow down a person’s breathing, stimulants increase it. These conflicting signals can cause major strain on the respiratory system which can end up causing more serious problems.
Gastrointestinal problems and digestion issues are also some of the many health effects of drug abuse. Specific drugs that are consumed orally like alcohol, opioids, or other medications can cause strain in a person’s digestive system. Opioids are known to lead to frequent constipation alongside indigestion, vomiting, nausea, and other conditions. As one of the main consequences of addiction, gastrointestinal problems can be extremely uncomfortable and long-term.
Those who suffer from chronic drinking have a high risk of experiencing frequent indigestion, which is considered gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD). This disease makes it painful to eat specific foods and can cause damage to the person’s esophagus. GERD is just one of the many diseases caused by drugs.
Alcoholism and frequent alcohol use are associated with other gastrointestinal conditions like:
- Reflux esophagitis
- Mallory-Weiss tears
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Higher risk of GI cancer
Drugs like cocaine are also known to cause serious gastrointestinal damage as time goes on. This includes mesenteric arterial vasospasm, which can stop the blood supply between the gastrointestinal system and the heart.
The liver is another essential part of the body’s function and serves in nutrient metabolism. It is a vital part of the detox process for many substances that are consumed. As with all frequent drug use, the liver can end up taking a beating with high levels of drug use. Certain drugs like alcohol, heroin, steroids, inhalants, and other drugs can cause quick and serious damage to the liver. Medical consequences of drug abuse include hepatitis and cirrhosis among others.
Alcohol is especially dangerous when it comes to a person’s liver. There are several different types of liver disease and alcohol opens the door for many of them. Liver disease can be mild or severe depending on the extent of drug use. Milder liver disease includes alcoholic steatohepatitis while on the other spectrum lies severe inflammation. These are just some of the many medical consequences of drug abuse and alcoholism.
The kidney is another essential part of the body because it filters different toxins from the bloodstream. Similar to liver problems, large amounts of drugs can affect the kidney’s function which can cause severe problems. Certain drugs can cause rhabdomyolysis, which overwhelms the kidney and causes toxic levels of muscle contents to go into the bloodstream. This stops the kidney from being able to fully filter out toxins.
As discussed earlier, certain drugs that cause respiratory issues can end up reducing oxygen intake through the body, which can lead to kidney damage. As time goes on, drug abuse can also cause renal failure as well. Certain substances include impurities/additives (mostly seen in street drugs). These properties can clog blood vessels that supply blood to the kidney. As expected, this can cause major damage to the kidney and its surrounding areas.
Neurological Problems in the Brain
The brain is another part of the body that is seriously impacted by frequent drug abuse. Many people associate alcohol and drug use with physical symptoms but the brain’s process is also affected. Long-term drug abuse can end up changing how the brain adapts and reacts to certain triggers. This is where dependence and addiction truly begin.
Many drugs can end up changing how the brain experiences pleasure/reward. Certain drugs can flood the brain with dopamine which urges the brain to repeat this action. As a person uses more and more of a drug, their body becomes dependent on it. Physical dependence occurs when a person experiences withdrawal symptoms when not using the drug or drinking. Over time this leads to addiction.
Benzodiazepines, alcohol, and other drugs that depress the central nervous system can impact the brain and can reduce its signaling functions. As time goes on, this can create long-term problems like decreased cognitive ability, memory loss, and movement issues.
Stimulants on the other hand, like meth and cocaine, do the opposite and impact the brain for more energy and greater attention. However, stimulants like these end up affecting the brain in many ways such as a decreased ability to restore neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin.
Don’t Wait; Get Help Today!
While this list may cover many areas of the body, there are still so many other consequences of addiction. The risk for disease, medical problems, and other issues only continues to rise as a person is addicted. Sometimes it’s best if a person gets proper help from a qualified team of professionals. At Harmony Place, we’re ready to help you or a loved one overcome addiction in a safe and open environment. Don’t wait, give us a call today to start the journey towards sobriety.