Everything we put into our bodies affects us. Some things nourish our bodies, while others sap our strength and diminish our vitality. The same applies to alcohol and drugs. Substances that may be harmless or beneficial in small quantities can destroy lives when taken to excess. Not only do some things consume a person’s finances, energy, and attention, but they also ravage the body. Read on to learn about the most significant health effects experienced by those with substance abuse disorders.
What Leads to Health Disorders in Those Who Use Drugs and Alcohol?
Every substance is different, and all have unique health implications. Illicit substances like heroin and cocaine cause devastating effects, while legal substances such as nicotine, alcohol, and prescription medicines can be just as harmful. Depending on health and age, anything can have a detrimental effect on individuals with a substance use disorder.
The Health Risks of Substance Use: It’s Deeper Than You Think
From minor symptoms to lifelong damage to the heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys, substance abuse affects a person’s physical health in many ways.
- Heart problems: Any substance can affect the cardiovascular system, but cocaine and amphetamines are the most common culprits. These illegal substances disrupt electrical signals in the cardiovascular system, increasing the risk of stroke and heart attack. Those who inject such drugs are also at risk of vein collapse, inflammation, and infection.
- Respiratory issues: Anything smoked—including cigars and cigarettes—can harm the lungs and lead to respiratory issues like chronic bronchitis, lung cancer, and emphysema. Injected substances increase the risk of asthma, pneumonia, and lung collapse, and the risk is even higher when legal and illegal drugs are combined with excessive alcohol consumption.
- Kidney and liver failure: Everything consumed goes through the liver, including alcohol. Over 40% of liver disease deaths are alcohol-related, and one-third of liver transplants are due to liver disease brought on by alcohol. The kidneys are also affected by nicotine, vaping, illicit drugs, and alcohol, all of which cause dehydration, body temperature spikes, and muscle deterioration.
- Gastrointestinal illness: From vomiting and nausea to constipation and diarrhoea, substance abuse affects the gut. With years of use, it can lead to acid reflux, ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, and various types of cancer.
- Brain issues: Substance abuse alters the way the brain responds to rewards and stimuli. With time, the brain will stop recognizing healthy rewards, and only the drug of choice will elicit such a response. This may lead to anxiety, depression, paranoia, and other mental effects, but it also causes physical changes in the brain that may persist even after usage stops.
These are just a few of the health effects of substance abuse disorder. If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, help is available—all you must do is reach out.
Get Professional Help for Substance Use and Related Health Conditions
If you or a family member are suffering from a substance use disorder, professionals can treat the condition and diagnose any related health problems. The best approach to healthcare is a holistic one that helps patients manage chronic diseases and pain with proven treatments. With preventive treatment, it may be possible to mitigate some of the harmful health effects of drug and alcohol abuse.