Most people know that addiction is a major issue. But the effect of drugs on health can be startling. There are many severe medical problems for addicts. This includes psychological and physical health problems. Some of these medical problems are short-term. Others are long-term or fatal. The list of problems is truly endless.
If you’re an addict or suspect you might be, this info is crucial to know. Getting true facts about diseases caused by drugs and alcohol is important. Facts can help you make safer choices. You may be able to avoid serious medical problems.
You can also learn about treatment for addiction and health problems. Knowing these details can help you improve your physical and mental well-being. This post will help guide you with info that every addict should know.
Physical Effects of Drug Addiction
The physical effects of drug abuse are massive. They vary widely for each addict. Some of these are caused by drug use. Other effects are caused by withdrawal. You don’t have to be a long-term addict to be affected. Common physical problems include:
- decreased appetite
- weight loss
- abdominal pain
- irregular heart rate (slower or faster than normal)
- heart attack
- excessive sweating
- breathing problems
- kidney damage
- liver damage
- lung damage
As you can see, these medical problems vary greatly. Some of them are very short-term. Others can lead to chronic and terminal illness. Those problems will be discussed in another section below. But before that, you’ll learn about psychological effects of drugs.
Psychological Effects of Drug Addiction
There are many psychological medical problems that addicts face. These problems are caused by drug use and drug withdrawal. Some of them can be treated. Others go away over time. Some of them may never be cured. These are some of the most common medical problems:
- impaired judgement
- memory loss (blackouts)
- distorted thoughts
- distorted perception
The psychological effects that happen depend on many factors. A big factor is what type of drug is used. How often drugs are used is another large factor. No matter what, every single addict is at risk. The emotional effects of substance abuse can’t be avoided. That’s one reason that drug abuse treatment is needed.
Mental Health Disorders Related to Addiction
Psychological effects can turn into serious mental health problems. Drug abuse can lead to mental illness. Mental illness can lead to drug abuse, too. This may be because drugs and mental illness affect the same parts of the brain. Regardless, the disorders can be quite serious. Here are some mental health problems related to addiction:
- anxiety disorders
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
- antisocial personality disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- adjustment disorders
- dissociative disorders
- Tourette’s syndrome
This list may seem overwhelming. It’s scary to think about having these illnesses. But there is a unique treatment option for addicts with mental disorders. Co-occurring disorder treatment focuses on addiction and mental health. Getting treatment for both problems is crucial for recovery. Fortunately, co-occurring disorder treatment is readily available.
Terminal Illness Related to Addiction
Many addicts don’t get treatment until it’s too late. Chronic drug and alcohol use can cause terminal illness. Alcohol can cause Hepatitis C, a liver disease that is often fatal. Alcohol can also cause seven types of cancer. Cancer is often fatal if it progresses too far.
Drug use via needles can cause HIV. HIV progresses to AIDS when it’s not treated. There is no cure for AIDS. Heroin and speed are two drugs injected by needles. Using a contaminated needle even once can lead to HIV.
Heart disease and heart attacks can stem from addiction. Heart problems are fatal in many cases. It’s impossible to predict when a drug will cause heart disease. Short-term and long-term use are both risk factors. Some people experience heart attacks from using drugs just once.
A lot of people dismiss the dangers of pot. But marijuana use can lead to terminal illness. Lung damage and disease are caused by smoking pot. This drug can also increase heart rate. Increased heart rate can be fatal in some cases. Many people think marijuana is completely safe. That’s a common yet dangerous myth.
Lastly, drugs can be laced with unknown substances. Heroin has been laced with Fentanyl in recent years. This has caused thousands of deaths. Cocaine is diluted with random substances. More specific examples are listed below. Any drug can be tampered with. It’s not usually visible to the naked eye. This makes all illicit drug use potentially fatal.
It’s easy to believe one-time use is harmless. Or you may believe your addiction is under control. But drugs are not regulated. It’s impossible to know if you’re taking a fatal substance. Even experienced drug users die from the problems above. No one is exempt. The only prevention for these medical problems is treating addiction.
Specific Drugs and Medical Problems They Cause
In this section, we’ll go into more detail about medical problems. Each drug addiction causes different problems. The list below features well-known drugs and the problems they cause. Keep in mind that it’s impossible to know every effect of drugs on health. There is no safe way to be an addict. There is no way to predict which dangerous health issues will arise. You will likely find drugs you’ve abused below. See the potential problems associated with them.
Long-term alcohol abuse is dangerous. Alcoholism can cause irritability, anxiety, depression, blackouts, and anger. Alcohol is linked to anemia, dementia, and digestive disorders. It can also cause liver disease, heart disease, and many types of cancer. The mental effects of alcoholism can be temporary or permanent.
Cocaine abuse causes many medical problems for addicts. It leads to anger, anxiety, paranoia, depression, and insomnia. Cocaine can cause heart attack, stroke, breathing problems, and seizures. It’s linked to infertility in men and women. Long-term use often leads to permanent brain damage. Coke is sometimes mixed with numbing agents, caffeine, and other dangerous substances.
Amphetamines (Meth, Adderall, Ritalin)
Amphetamine abuse is linked to mental health problems. It may cause delusions, hallucinations, severe anxiety, and violent behavior. Physical health problems include weight loss, dental damage, increased heart rate, and breathing problems. These effects of meth on health can be short-term, long-term, and fatal.
Opiates (Heroin, Vicodin, Oxycodone)
Opiate abuse leads to many medical problems. Disorientation, severe drowsiness, and memory loss are common. Collapsed veins can occur when needles are used. This causes blood vessel and heart valve infections. The effects of heroin on health are severe. Problems from heroin overdoses include coma, respiratory failure, and death.
Marijuana is the most commonly abused drug. It can cause temporary and permanent medical problems. It may lead to memory loss, anxiety, difficulty thinking, and poor coordination. Smoking pot can cause lung irritation and lung disease. It’s linked to infertility in men. It can even result in cardiac arrest.
Benzodiazepines (Klonopin, Xanax, Ativan)
Benzo abuse is directly related to many health issues. Benzos may cause confusion, dizziness, blackouts, and blurred vision. These medications are also linked to Alzheimer’s. An overdose can cause respiratory failure, coma, and death. Many of these things happen even with short-term abuse.
Ecstasy is linked to many medical problems. It can cause anxiety, panic attacks, dizziness, and confusion. Other problems include fever, chills, muscle stiffness, and nausea. Ecstasy abuse may also cause fatally high blood pressure and seizures. Ecstasy is often laced with meth, too. This doubles the risks of abusing it.
Methadone is designed to treat addiction. Unfortunately, methadone addiction can happen to anyone. Methadone is an opioid used to replace other opioid drugs. People are often surprised by the health consequences of methadone. But often has the same effects as heroin or painkillers. Some examples include drowsiness, confusion, and fainting. Severe abuse may lead to respiratory failure and death.
Hallucinogens (LSD, Mushrooms)
Hallucinogens can be unsafe and unpredictable. Some people have medical problems from one-time use. This makes long-term abuse very risky. Health problems include disorientation, paranoia, psychosis, and anxiety. Physical symptoms include dizziness, increased heart rate, fever, and vomiting. The mental health problems listed can be permanent.
Does Drug Addiction Affect Family Health?
There are many effects of drug abuse on families. This is outside of diseases caused by drugs. You may be surprised to learn that family health can be affected by addiction. Medical problems are not uncommon for relatives of addicts. Some examples of effects on the family are:
- stress-related illness (heart disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, digestive problems, obesity)
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- physical injuries from violence
- anger problems
- sexually transmitted diseases
- miscarriage in pregnant women
- damage to unborn children in pregnant women
Drug addicts may believe they’re only hurting themselves. This is rarely true. Parents, children, spouses, and other loved ones can all be affected. These medical problems can cause lifelong problems for families of addicts. Some of them can even result in death. That may be scary to think about. But the causes and effects of drug addiction are a sad reality.
Does Drug Addiction Affect Community Health?
The effects of drugs on the community is a hot topic. The social effects are widely known. But what are the medical consequences of drugs on communities? This topic isn’t discussed as much. You may be surprised to learn addiction does cause community medical problems.
Below you’ll find some examples of people affected by addiction. Each community is unique. This means the problems in one area may not happen in another. But overall, these things can occur anywhere.
- HIV and AIDS can affect community health. HIV and AIDS are spread through blood, saliva, and other bodily fluids. Addicts with either disease can put others at risk. HIV rates may be higher in communities with high addiction rates. Needle sharing among addicts can cause this. Improper disposal of needles is another example of risk. These dangerous diseases can be a big community threat.
- Access to some medications may be strict. The opioid epidemic affects addicts and non-addicts. Addiction to opiate drugs has skyrocketed. This includes prescription painkillers. Many doctors are reluctant to prescribe them. That affects patients who need them. Addicts may turn to heroin when they can’t get painkiller drugs. This clearly affects the entire community.
- Community health budgets may be tight. Money is a factor that affects everyone in a community. Budgets for health care may be tight in areas with high addiction rates. For example, government-funded methadone clinics are needed. These are certainly important and needed. There’s no denying that. But this can reduce money available for other public health programs.
These are just three examples. The negative effects of drugs on the community vary. Each city, county, and state are uniquely affected by addiction. As you can see, this includes medical problems. Recovery for addicts can benefit many other people, too.
Treatment Options For Addicts
It’s possible to treat illness and diseases caused by drugs. Prevention of drug abuse is an important part of this. Getting treatment for addiction is a great solution for drug addiction. There are several different treatment options available. Each one has unique benefits. Below, you can learn about some of them:
Inpatient Treatment – Inpatient treatment requires short or long-term placement in hospitals or rehab centers. This treatment can be helpful for addicts with dangerous medical problems. For example, an addict with psychosis may hurt himself or others. This is one of the unfortunate consequences of drug and alcohol abuse. Inpatient treatment offers a safe environment for recovery.
There are some downsides to inpatient treatment. Addicts are not able to work or go to school. They cannot spend large amounts of time with family. Visits are limited for patients. They aren’t able to build long-term schedules while they’re in treatment. So inpatient is a good tool. But it’s not for every addict out there. And when it’s used, it should be followed by outpatient treatment.
Intensive Outpatient Treatment – Many addicts thrive in intensive outpatient programs. IOP treats addiction in many ways. Addicts may go to group and individual counseling. They can get help with learning life skills, finding jobs, and more. IOP doesn’t involve medication treatment in most cases.
This type of treatment gives addicts structure. They have to attend all appointments. They establish healthy routines but have freedom. This means they can work, attend school, and see family. These benefits can result in long-term sobriety for addicts. IOP is a popular and effective option.
Medication Based Treatment – Medication based treatment has many pros and cons. This treatment includes methadone and suboxone dispensed at clinics. These meds are used to help opiate addicts. In some cases, this type of treatment works. But methadone and Suboxone can be dangerous.
Addicts can become addicted to methadone. Suboxone can also be abused. That makes these options a big risk. Clinics closely monitor addicts getting treatment. But that can’t totally prevent problems. Additionally, going to a clinic every day isn’t easy. It affects work and other important parts of life. This is important to know if you consider this treatment.
Anonymous Support Groups – Anonymous support groups are popular for recovering and sober addicts. These groups allow addicts to meet often. Different topics are discussed each meeting. The anonymous part can be comforting. It allows addicts to be open about struggles. And these groups are designed to be safe spaces. Addicts aren’t judged for what they say.
These groups aren’t ideal for non-sober addicts. Recovery is independent for group members. This makes it different from outpatient therapy. Medical problems aren’t treated in support groups. That’s another factor to consider. Many benefit from support groups in combination with IOP treatment.
Choosing The Best Addiction Treatment
It’s common for people to question their drug use. You may wonder if you’re truly an addict. You might be curious about the mental effects of drugs you’ve abused. That’s all understandable. Without the right info, it’s hard to know what you should do. Start by reading about drug abuse and addiction. You can also take an addiction quiz to assess yourself.
There are great addiction guides to help you learn more. These guides discuss addiction to all types of drugs. They give info about many consequences of drugs. Take some time to look over the information. This should help you see what treatment is right for you. From that point, you can focus on solutions for drug addiction and your health.
Lastly, you should know there’s no shame in seeking help. Treatment centers welcome all types of people. Their goal is to assist addict in need. You can feel confident that you’re in good hands. Now that you’ve got all of the info above, it’s time to move forward. You’ll be treated with respect and kindness as you get sober.