Substance abuse refers to the excessive use of legal or illegal stuff that causes addiction and harms overall health. Most people get into alcohol or drug addiction thinking it is harmless. They see other people appearing fit and fine; therefore, they take up the habits without realizing the detrimental effects on their health. Furthermore, they believe they can leave drugs or alcohol whenever they want. When they realize the dire consequences and try to leave harmful practices, it is generally too late. Despite it being well-known that substance abuse never leads to anything pleasant, an increasing rise in people taking up unhealthy habits is visible. Substance abuse can cause serious health issues, and in the worst case, people succumb to their health conditions and pass away.
Several people find it hard to say no to peer pressure and get into drinking or drugs to fit in or appear cool. Since depression is becoming prevalent in modern times, numerous people find solace in drugs. Others take up harmful habits due to boredom and try to experiment. Irrespective of the reason leading people to substance abuse, the effects are always destructive.
The following are some of the health conditions caused by substance abuse:
- Cardiovascular Issues
Depending on the substance addicts are using and their frequency, it can damage their hearts’ function with time. CNS depressants slow down hearts’ working; in contrast, stimulants increase users’ heart rate. Initially, they may not have any cardiovascular problem, but constant use results in high or low blood pressure. Similarly, many substances cause irregular heartbeat, and in the worst case, it can cause a sudden cardiac arrest. Drug addiction can lead to disseminated and local vascular inflammation, blood clotting, or cardiac valve infections.
Addicts must understand that they are in charge of their health, and substance-abusing ruins their health with time. They can join outpatient programs to deal with their addictive behaviors and improve their health. Joining a group or treatment center helps addicts handle their craving and enable them to be resilient. Gradually, they build solid nerves and do not cave into temptations or cravings.
- Weakens Immunity
A robust immune system keeps illnesses at bay as it puts up an intense fight against germs’ external forces and keeps people healthy. Substance abuse adversely affects addicts’ immune systems. The inbuilt quality of fighting harmful bacteria and germs becomes weak. They fell prey to viruses and germs easily. In many cases, addicts have a sudden weight loss as alcohol, cocaine, or other destructive substances affect their appetite. They either do not feel hungry or cannot take a proper meal. Not following a good diet and intaking unhealthy substances affect their immunity and make them vulnerable. Weaken immunity makes addicts prone to many diseases and worsens their health drastically.
- Neurological Problems
The human brain has unique functions, and it gets adapted to people’s practices with time. When addicts use substances for an extended period, their brains take it as a routine and have specific changes in its chemistry. They become dependent on substances, impacting the brain’s function, such as decision making, pleasure, pain, control, and reflex actions. Substances like alcohol and other sedative-hypnotics minimize brain signaling, resulting in calm and relaxation. As a result, they numb the brain and affect its receptors and signaling.
In contrast, ecstasy, meth, and cocaine increase neuron and lead to emotional highs and excessive physical energy. The destructive part is that brains adapt to the substance. When it leaves the body, the brain slows down in restoring balance to neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin.
Cancer is a deadly disease claiming many lives every year. Not every patient with cancer has a history of substance abuse, and we cannot ignore the destructive effects of alcohol, meth, cocaine, or other harmful drugs. Smoking is the primary cause of cancer as tobacco contains toxic chemicals. Smoking can lead to mouth, lung, pancreas, bladder, blood, or colon cancers. Many cocaine users end up with bladder, lung, and ureter, oral or esophageal cancer. Addicts deal with their addiction, and their health issues add to their problems, making it difficult to survive.
- Liver Damage
The liver is the central organ of the body as its function is to metabolize nutrients. Besides, life also detoxifies many consumed substances. With the constant use of high levels of drugs, the liver becomes overwhelmed with the detoxification substances, and the organ breaks down. Substance firsts affect its functioning then gradually breaks it down to a level that stops functioning. Alcohol use leads to liver diseases, including alcoholic hepatitis or liver parenchyma, also referred to as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is often the leading cause of developing cancer.
- Respiratory Inefficiency
Constant use of drugs, smoking, or alcohol affects alveoli in the lungs, making the upper respiratory system vulnerable. People initially start having breathing issues, which they instantly do not connect with their substance abuse. Overdose of depressants results in slower breathing or irregular breathing. In worse cases, an overdose of depressants can lead to death as addicts are unable to breathe. Furthermore, an extended period of difficult breathing makes addicts’ bodies starved of oxygen, affecting other body organs.
The immediate effect of substance abuse is usually on the digestive system. People may have complaints of stomach aches, diarrhea, and other gastric issues. Substance deteriorates the mucous membrane, whose primary function is to break food down in peristalsis, affecting people’s GI, gastrointestinal. Once the stomach walls become vulnerable, people are at high risk of getting ulcers and other stomach-related diseases. Moreover, addiction makes people dehydrated that impacts people’s ability to produce saliva, affecting the entire GI process. In severe cases, deterioration of GI leads to severe diseases like liver cancer and puts people’s lives at risk.
Every year a large number of drug or alcohol addicts pass away due to substance abuse. Addicts do not realize that they are putting pleasure over their health, the most significant component of human life. In most cases, addiction does not lead to sudden death but slowly deteriorates people’s conditions. Drug addiction numbs brains’ functioning, affects addicts’ hearts and kidneys, and leads to several other problems. Moreover, substance abuse weakens immunity and makes people vulnerable. Aside from physical health, drugs and alcohol impacts psychological health and can be detrimental. Drugs and alcohol may help people escape their issues but result in severe health problems.