3 Consequences of Addiction

Author: GIA Miami
Published: December 31, 2021

Addiction to alcohol or drugs, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is a disease that leaves a devastating impact on millions of individuals worldwide. Yet, due to living in denial, most people suffering from addiction ignore the signs and symptoms they experience and often shrug off any concerns expressed by their loved ones.

However, as using and abusing drugs and alcohol can quickly spiral beyond control and lead to various short and long-term health conditions, it’s important to review how addictions impair a user’s life.

In this blog, we share three consequences of addiction and the help available to mitigate them.

1.  Mental Health Issues

Across the world, many people use drugs and alcohol to alleviate mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although the effects of substances provide a short-term relief and euphoric sensations, in the long run, they exacerbate mental health conditions, causing behavioral side effects including paranoia, agitation, short-term memory loss, and hallucinations to arise.

In addition to the above, addictions can have such an impact on a person’s mental health that they begin to isolate themselves from others, refrain from taking part in everyday activities, such as going to work, and experience financial difficulty.

Though many believe that self-medicating with substances is not detrimental to their health and well-being, it is not recommended nor advised. This is because people who have a SUD and mental health disorder are at increased risk of suicide. Instead, those struggling should seek professional support. Here, medical professionals will provide appropriate treatment, such as medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

2.  Health Problems

Consumption of alcohol and drugs, whether legal or illegal, causes an array of health conditions. Side effects of addiction affect a person’s physical health, give way to sleep issues, such as insomnia, weaken the immune system, and often result in poor nutrition.

In addition, severe health problems that arise as a result of addiction include:

  • Infections - Drugs injected into the body increase a user’s risk of infections, such as hepatitis B and C, which can cause liver scarring (cirrhosis) and liver cancer if left untreated. There is also a risk of HIV and bacterial infections, such as tetanus and sepsis.
  • Heart Problems - Misusing substances can cause both immediate and long-term cardiovascular issues. Alcohol raises blood pressure and, in turn, increases the risk of heart attacks. Drug abuse, including prescription drugs, can also cause irregular heart rates. Cocaine, for example, constricts the heart’s blood vessels meaning the heart has to work harder and pump faster, which can initiate a heart attack or stroke.
  • Cancer - Alcohol abuse is the most common cause of chronic pancreatitis. People with chronic pancreatitis are 20% more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. There are also links between alcoholism and head and mouth cancer, esophageal cancer, liver cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer.

Smoking drugs is also linked to lung, esophagus, bladder, stomach, blood, and colon cancer.

3.  Death

This might make for uncomfortable reading, but it is important to know that abusing substances comes with a risk of death. Irrespective of the substance consumed, frequency of consumption, and volume consumed, death can occur as a result of health complications that arise when drugs and alcohol are abused. It can also occur due to poor decision-making when in an altered state, such as by drink-driving.

Death can also occur from withdrawing from drugs and alcohol. Withdrawal symptoms include insomnia, mood swings, nausea, and seizures, which can be fatal.

It’s Not Too Late To Act

Individuals concerned about their relationship with substances should seek help as soon as possible, even if they do not experience any symptoms of addiction or believe that their lives are at risk.

While substance abuse has many short and long-term consequences, it is not too late to seek help and regain control. From talking to a health care provider to attending an inpatient or outpatient rehab center, support and treatment programs are available to help those affected secure a life-long recovery and mitigate the risk of encountering the three consequences of addiction noted above.

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I went home and took a nap and I woke up and I told my wife, I don't ever want to do cocaine again and she looked at me and she said what do you mean? 
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