Having an addiction is not only harmful and stressful to an individual but also poses an overwhelming number of side-effects on them and their life. When one is addicted, the impact physical, mental, financial and even the relational aspect of their lives are affected which turns a healthy person into a frail shadow of their former selves. Knowing what these effects are can help you avoid being addicted to substances and the havoc it can do to your life.
The Physical Impact of Addiction
A person who is addicted to drugs and alcohol will experience a myriad of issues in their lives. According to NIDA or National Institute on Drug Abuse, these long term effects can put a strain on one’s physical health including major organs of the body like:
- Kidneys – a healthy kidney can be damaged by addiction through habitual drug use over a period of time. It can also cause dehydration, increased body temperature, muscle breakdown, and kidney damage especially if the individual is abusing heroin, ketamine, MDMA and other dangerous drugs.
- Liver – the liver can also be destroyed if the person is addicted to alcohol, opioids, steroids, inhalants, or others. Keep in mind that the liver is responsible for clearing the toxins in the bloodstream and if the person takes in more of these toxins which are found in alcohol and drugs, chances are, the liver might not be able to filter it and can be damaged in the long run. When the liver is damaged, this can result in tissue necrosis, scarring, chronic inflammation, and even cancer.
- Heart – the heart can also be damaged due to drugs and alcohol addiction through increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and abnormal cardiac rhythms as well as infarction. When this happens, the person can suffer from a heart attack as well as bacterial infections in the heart or bloodstream due to collapsed veins.
- Lungs – another major organ in the body that suffers a great deal when addiction sets in are the lungs. The respiratory system can be damaged due to the inhalation of drugs as well as smoking it. It also slows down the person’s capacity to breathe normally and even cause serious infections or complications for the individual.
When the person develops tolerance, it can put the person in more danger as they could take more drugs at different doses in order to achieve the stimulation they need. This could also put them at risk for a fatal overdose and death.
The Mental or Psychological Impact of Addiction
Besides the physical effects of drug and alcohol addiction, many drug addicts suffer psychological effects. For many years, it is believed that addiction is connected with mental health issues but it was not always clear. It is also believed that people with mood disorders are most likely to have or suffer from substance abuse disorder, while a person who suffers from substance abuse is most likely to have mood or anxiety disorders. While the root cause is not always clear, there is a strong relationship between the two.
The psychological effects of substance abuse on an individual may range from mild to severe. Any level of severity can cause a huge negative impact on a person’s life and the most common of these are the following:
- Anxiety – this condition is often associated with panic and stress disorders and each cause may be different from each individual. A person could develop a pattern of abuse after drug use in order to cope with certain symptoms or they could already have long-term drug abuse and develop anxiety problems.
- Depression – depression and other mood disorders have an association with substance abuse. This could be caused by a preexisting depression that eventually led to substance abuse or it could also be due to the abuse that caused the brain chemicals to change and increase the depressive symptoms of an individual. Some may have self-medicated in order to manage the symptoms but only to develop tolerance and made the symptoms even worse once the person goes through withdrawal.
- Paranoia – some drugs can cause feelings of paranoia which can intensify the abuse. People who are suffering from the effects of drugs may feel the need to hide or lie about their drug use.
Financial Impact of Addiction
According to NIDA, substance abuse costs about $600 billion each year. This includes the loss of health, productivity, and crime-related expenses. Statistics also show that 1 out of 12 full-time workers use drugs and alcohol regularly. When these individuals miss work due to addiction, the opportunity to be more productive, valued employees, and promotions are passed on to others therefore job opportunities are lost. This just shows that the cost of substance addiction is massive and can affect everyone.
Addiction is costly especially for the poor. This is even worse if almost all of your earnings are spent on addiction. Not only that, addiction can cost you your health and therefore will spend more on rehabilitation, insurance, and health care. It can also lead to unpaid debts, late fees, missed payments and worse, foreclosure of properties. According to research, alcohol addiction alone can cause $223 billion dollars in the United States in terms of health care, law enforcement costs, and loss of productivity back in 2006. The same problem happened again the following year and cost the country around $193 billion dollars.
Impact of Addiction on Relationships
Besides ruining the physical, mental, and financial aspects of your life, addiction can also destroy relationships. When a person is addicted to substances, they tend to be secluded, moody, and even violent towards others. Over time they will be socially withdrawn and prefer to do things their way. Individuals will also show an increased sense of self and will engage in risky behaviors. This puts them in harm’s way, which could eventually hurt them or people around them.
Keeping a relationship with someone who is an addict can be difficult. They become irritated easily and episodes of mania or depression may occur. They will push their loved ones away and will turn to more drugs and alcohol in order to cope with their mental health disorder. Over time, they will avoid people and make it hard to be around anyone thus destroying relationships with everyone they are connected with.
Treatment is Important
Good treatment and rehabilitation is always the best step to take in terms of substance addiction. Medical detoxification can help the individual eliminate the toxic substances from their body within a minimum period of 30 days inside a treatment facility. Programs can go as long as 90 days, which offers the individual a wide variety of programs and treatment options. During this time, they will teach each patient how to cope with stress while staying clean and sober. Rehab programs on the other hand help address their emotional issues as well as spiritual needs while providing them with the tools and resources to prevent addiction. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can also help them return to a productive and happy life once their treatment is completed.
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