Few conditions produce such devastating effects as drug abuse. When in the throes of addiction, drug abusers often alienate their friends, family, and other loved ones. Abuse affects every facet of a victim’s life — physical health, mental health, emotional well-being, and social relationships. The effects of drug abuse can truly ravage the lives of addicted individuals and everyone who cares about them.
Physical Effects of Drug Abuse
When many people think of the effects of drug abuse, they first think of physical symptoms. The physical and medical effects of addiction vary by drug of choice. For example, people who struggle with alcohol abuse may experience the following problems:
- High blood pressure
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Erectile dysfunction
- Brain damage
- Digestive tract bleeding
- Cardiovascular disease
- Compromised liver functioning, leading to disability or death
Despite the common myth that marijuana does not negatively affect your health, scientific research shows that marijuana users experience more medical problems than those who do not use the drug. Common problems include the following:
- Heart palpitations
- Other cardiac problems or illnesses
- Acute chest illness
- Severe lung problems
Cocaine abuse also has significant effects on health. Cocaine use leads to feelings of euphoria, supremacy, and very elevated mood. This high keeps people coming back for more of the drug. However, many cocaine users also may experience devastating health problems, including:
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Lung or sinus damage
- Kidney failure
- Sexual dysfunction
Cocaine abuse also frequently leads to heart attacks, even in younger individuals with no other cardiovascular risk factors.
Another common drug of abuse, heroin, severely ravages your body. Shooting up increases your risk of infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and collapsed veins. Chronic heroin users experience even more extensive health problems including:
- Spontaneous abortion
- Infections of heart tissue
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
Unfortunately, heroin is highly addictive and withdrawal symptoms are severe. These symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, cold flashes, muscle pain, insomnia, and muscle spasms. Repeated heroin use may lead to a fatal overdose, and unsupervised withdrawal from the drug may also lead to death.
Methamphetamine abuse is notorious for causing severe health problems. This drug is highly addictive, making it likely that drug users will suffer ill effects. Small amounts of methamphetamine cause similar symptoms to other stimulants, including:
- Increased respiration
- Cardiac arrhythmia
- Rapid heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Decreased appetite
Over the long term, methamphetamine users often experience severe dental problems and major weight loss. They may engage in risky sexual behaviors and are at increased risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
Mental Health Effects of Drug Abuse
Despite differences in physical health problems across different types of drugs, many of the mental health effects of drug abuse are similar. Stimulants such as cocaine or methamphetamine often lead to irritability, paranoia, anxiety, restlessness, and impaired emotional regulation. Physiological depressants may cause dulled senses, fatigue, and depressed mood.
Nearly all drugs of abuse result in cognitive impairment. For example, marijuana use may cause problems with learning and memory, impairments in thinking, poor problem solving abilities, and perceptual distortions. Over time, people who struggle with addiction also tend to experience:
- Impaired ability to perform complex reasoning
- General cognitive slowing
- Impaired emotional processing
- Inability to connect meaningfully with others
The cognitive and mental health problems associated with addiction typically get worse as drug use becomes more frequent and higher amounts of the substance are used.
Effects of Drug Abuse on Social Relationships
There is a wealth of evidence about the negative effects of drug use on physical and mental health, and researchers are increasingly looking at the effects of abuse on social relationships. People dealing with substance abuse often withdraw from their family and friends. They may seek out other substance users, and their social lives often function around getting high or using drugs. These changes are often gradual, with the drug abuser denying any differences in social functioning.
It is profoundly difficult to be the friend or family member of someone struggling with addiction. Addiction does not only affect the drug user; it can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues in loved ones. Substance abusers have a difficult time relating to others and expressing emotion, making it challenging to remain in their lives. It is important to recognize the profound effects of addiction on the drug user’s friends and family.
Let Best Drug Rehab Help Today
No matter what drug an individual uses, substance abuse causes a host of problems. In addition to physical health conditions, mental health problems, and emotional problems, addicts often lose valuable social relationships. If a loved one exhibits one or more symptoms of drug abuse, it is important to seek help immediately. A professional referral service such as Best Drug Rehabilitation can ensure that an individual finds the care he or she needs to return to a happy, productive, healthy life.