The moment you drink any alcoholic beverage, smoke a cigarette or a joint, take a pill, or inject any chemical into your body, you are already aware of the fact that you are taking in foreign substances, even dangerous ones. In the heat of the moment, it seems like it’s the only thing you can do, especially if it will help you feel better, get high, or be accepted among your peers. If you don’t already know, know that using addictive substances will endanger your health and ultimately your life.
Currently there are more than seven million people who suffer from drug abuse, and one in four deaths is due to it. Additionally, health experts associate more disabilities, illnesses, and deaths with drug use compared to other health conditions. People who abuse dangerous substances are also at increased risk of accidents, domestic violence, and unintentional injuries. (1)
With that said, you may be wondering, how exactly do drugs affect the human body to the point that they ultimately lead to death?
How drugs affect the body
In general, narcotics change the way your body normally works. Even the ones that are supposed to bring benefits (like marijuana) and prescription drugs (like Adderall) can have adverse effects. Essentially, when you use addictive substances on a regular basis, regardless of use, you are only risking your physical and mental health.
For example, drug abuse or substance addiction will make you more susceptible to respiratory problems, coma, stroke, heart attack, blood disorders, panic attacks, and the list goes on. Additionally, drugs can make you appear fatigued, malnourished, and will have detrimental effects on your immune system.
Thus, there are several studies that show that people who do not seek immediate treatment for their drug addiction only have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years. If you started using drugs at age 18 and haven’t sought help from reputable rehab centers like Heal Behavioral Health, you may not make it past 40. (2)
Unfortunately, only 14% of adult substance abusers have sought treatment in the past year. Taking into account the impacts it brings, the estimated percentage is still too low. Fortunately, it is still not too late to seek help if you or someone you know is suffering from substance addiction. By admitting you have a problem early on, you’ll get treatment sooner, giving you more time to rebuild your life. (1)
Health Impacts of Substance Addiction
As mentioned, substance addiction can lead to disorders or a wide range of short- and long-term negative effects. The health impact will also depend on the type of drug the person is using, how often and how much the person is taking the drug. Drug dependency can also affect every organ in your body. (3)
To paint a clearer picture, here are some common health impacts of substance addiction:
- decreased brain function
The brain is wired in such a way that if you do something pleasurable, it commands you to repeat the action. And this applies to any other activity like eating and exercising. Unfortunately, addictive drugs attack the pleasure centers of the brain. So if you use a drug regularly, your brain will get used to the effect. Left unchecked, the drug will rewire your brain’s chemical structure, changing the way it reacts to pleasure. This is why you may gradually want a higher dose to feel the effects.
Also, since your brain is already dependent on a specific medication, you may find it difficult to quit, especially since withdrawal symptoms can be painful or difficult to manage. Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with withdrawal symptoms, so it’s better to navigate this path than to become dependent on a dangerous substance.
Also, long-term substance addiction will affect how your brain works. Drugs can cause memory loss, impaired judgment, difficulty learning, and other cognitive difficulties. Specific drugs can also have serious effects on the brain. For example, alcohol puts you at higher risk of dementia. Inhalants can also damage your brain cells faster than any drug. Finally, marijuana is said to cause short-term memory loss. (2)
- Prone to cardiovascular and kidney diseases.
As mentioned above, drugs can affect any organ in your body. Although any problem related to your organs is a serious matter, one organ that deserves attention is your heart. Drugs can affect your heart in many ways, from abnormal heart rhythm to heart attacks. In addition, injecting drugs can cause a collapsed vein and even bacterial infections of both heart valves and blood vessels.
Here are some narcotics that can affect your heart:
- heroin (4)
Also, the use of MMDA drugs or any psychoactive drugs such as ecstasy can interfere with your body’s ability to regulate its temperature. If abused, these drugs can cause temperature spikes (hypothermia), which in turn leads to severe dehydration and long-term kidney failure or damage.
Generally, smoking any type of substance, such as marijuana or tobacco, is linked to cancers of the mouth, stomach, neck, and lung. Passive smoking will also increase a person’s chances of developing lung cancer, among other health problems. If you don’t want to be prone to any type of cancer, it is best to quit smoking and learn some ways to detoxify your body properly.
- harms the fetus
Substance addiction will pose a significant risk to both pregnant women and their babies. For one, drugs and alcohol contain toxic chemicals that are very dangerous to the fetus. In addition, a pregnant woman who uses drugs will harm the fetus due to the common side effects of the drug she is using, such as risk behaviors and neglect of nutrition.
Drugs can also cause premature labor. Finally, when a woman is addicted to a substance while she is pregnant, the baby is prone to birth defects, as well as behavioral and learning problems.
As you can see, substance addiction has negative health impacts. For one, narcotics can alter how your brain works, causing mood swings and even the ability to make proper judgments.
Drug use is also said to cause irreversible damage to the heart and kidneys and cause cancer. Lastly, it is strongly discouraged for a pregnant woman to use illicit drugs. Drugs will not only affect the health of the woman, but can also cause irreversible damage to the baby.
It’s not too late to start over. You can make the switch today. Accept that you have an addiction and seek medical help immediately.
Fortunate McKay has been in the rehab industry for the past five years. Her goal is to help those who are struggling to quit their dangerous habits. If she’s not leading seminars and writing helpful blogs, she spends most of her time riding her bike and cooking healthy meals for her family and friends.
- “EFFECTS OF DRUG ABUSE AND ADDICTION”, Source: https://www.gatewayfoundation.org/faqs/effects-of-drug-abuse/
- “WHAT DO DRUGS REALLY DO TO YOUR BODY?”, Source: https://www.turnbridge.com/news-events/latest-articles/what-do-drugs-do-to-your-body/#
- “HEALTH CARE SYSTEM AND SUBSTANCE USE DISORDERS”, Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK424848/
- “Top 10 Health Consequences of Drug Abuse”, Source: https://www.providence-recovery.com/blog/top-10-health-consequences-of-drug-abuse