In the short term, consequences of drug abuse can pose a serious health risk. There are dangers surrounding illegal drug use that don’t even begin to touch any drug’s long list of possible side effects and medical complications – risks such as arrest, dying due to drug-related violence, or getting into an accident due to intoxication.
Even on the legal side, the consequences of drug abuse can be immediate. Too much alcohol or prescription drugs can easily lead to an overdose and a combination of both speeds up the process. There is no shortage of ways to ruin your life with a drug or two, in the short term.
In the long term, drugs pose a considerable health risk both physically and mentally. They leave scars, scars that can take decades to fix, and in some cases the consequences of drug abuse are irreversible. Exactly what happens and how, depends on the drugs you take, and even how and when you take them. However, it is safe to say that anyone struggling with a bona fide addiction will have found themselves in a situation sure to add some weight and volume to their medical files.
How Drug Use Can Affect the Body
The human body can handle quite a bit of stress and pressure. Physically, our joints are up to the task of helping us move an immeasurable amount of weight over the course of our lifetime. Athletic achievements have helped us push the boundaries of what it means to be human, and we’re continuously testing the limits of how far we can push those lines with science.
We live longer today than ever due to medical advancements, and the longer we live, the more problematic living can become. Dementia and arthritis, hearing problems and failing vision. Yet just like any other machine, the rate at which our bodies break down generally depends on just how much wear and tear any given part has sustained.
Someone who spent their days as a computer engineer staring at CRT monitors for decades is more likely to struggle with ocular health problems than someone who worked as a farmer. On the other hand, they may not have the advanced joint and spine problems that come from years of heavy lifting.
The consequences of drug abuse is a little bit like accelerating that wear and tear process on any given affected part of your body, forcing it to break down and reach an old age faster than the rest of you. Heavy drug use hits the liver hard, forces the heart to struggle, and messes with the integrity and health of your brain. It can damage your lungs, your pancreas, and your kidneys. Drug use can waste your muscles and skin. When you take drugs, you’re ingesting a poison – in some cases, the body actively treats it as a toxin such as in the case of alcohol, and in other cases, it simply wears the body down far more than it is meant to be, causing long term health complications unseen in most people in the same age.
Consequences Of Drug Abuse And Different Drug’s Effects
Drugs are bad for you, but there needs to be a little more context to that statement. A single hit of cocaine will not destroy your liver, or rend your heart to pieces, or make you an addict for life. However, the consequences of drug abuse is made dangerous not only by its health effects but by its health effects coupled with the risk of dependency. Yes, excessive sugar can lead to major health problems including heart disease and obesity – but a sugar addiction cannot hold a candle to alcoholism.
Aside from the constant risk of overdose, here is a quick guide to the consequences of drug abuse to be expected from long term drug use, for several different types of drugs.
Alcohol: Long term alcohol usage causes severe liver cirrhosis and fibrosis, heart damage and high blood pressure, and a collection of cancers. Long term intoxication also affects your immune system, leaving you open to disease.
Stimulants: Overuse of stimulants like cocaine and meth lead to heart damage and a much higher potential of heart disease, due to wear and tear. Cocaine usage (and other stimulants) also elevate your risk of a stroke significantly.
Opioids: Long term usage of opioids such as OxyContin and heroin leads to liver damage, and hypoxia (opioids interfere with your breathing, which is their primary cause of death).
Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Xanax can cause brain damage when overused. These drugs are minor tranquilizers, essentially interfering with the way the brain works and causing serious potential harm in the way of diminishing cortical function and overall intelligence.
Inhaled Drugs: Stimulants, tobacco and marijuana alike can all cause serious lung damage over time when inhaled, due to the nature of inhaling anything burnt. Crack cocaine is especially dangerous because of this, combined with its incredible addictiveness. Some tobacco and marijuana users have taken to electronic cigarettes for this very reason, although the jury is still out on what the long-term effects of “vaping” may be.
There is no such thing as a healthy drug. If it’s an object of addiction, then there will always be risk involved, no matter what form it takes. Addiction is a terrible disease.
There Is a Healing Process
For every consequence of an addiction, there is a path to healing. The extent to which you’ll heal, however, depends on the damage and your ability to overcome it. Research shows that drug-related brain damage – such as deteriorating faculties due to meth use – can actively be reversed through a better, healthy lifestyle.
Most liver damage can be reversed with time and a little medical intervention – the liver is an extremely hardy organ. Other organs can improve with the right diet and lifestyle, but it will always depend on the damage that has already been done. Some people will always be at a higher risk of certain diseases later in life than others due to their drug use, such as heart disease or cancer.
Beyond the physical, part of overcoming addiction means finding a way to be at peace with the consequences of drug abuse. And with time, you can be.