Though most people associate addiction to harder drugs like cocaine and heroin, addiction is a real and scary problem that users of any drugs should be worried about. Alcohol, painkillers, and cigarettes are all drugs that you can be addicted to and can be very damaging to your long-term health.
Addiction has become an increasingly prevalent issue in our society, even though there are increasing studies warning against addictive behaviors. Americans use substances to combat problems like depression or anxiety, buy this use of substances can create an even bigger problem. From withdrawal symptoms to overall health changes, drug addiction is damning.
If you or a loved one may be dealing with drug addiction, here are 10 long-term problems that will help give a better understanding of what drugs do to you.
1. Metabolic Alterations
One of the less-considered issues that comes along with drug abuse and addiction is metabolic alteration. Regardless of whether you make changes to your diet because of food, some drugs can have a lasting impact on your body's ability to retain and process food.
The famous soccer player Diego Maradona is one example of this change. Once he was hooked on cocaine, Maradona gained significant weight. Drugs had an impact on his appetite and digestive system. This is a common side effect that many addicts share.
2. Cardiovascular Issues
Drugs enter your bloodstream and can often have an impact on how your blood flows around your body. Because of this change in blood flow, many addicts report feeling chest pains or having other abnormalities.
More concerning, though, is that these cardiovascular issues can often be chronic and lead to potentially fatal changes in your heart's abilities. With the heart muscles working at abnormal rates, aneurysms, heart attacks, or strokes are not uncommon.
3. Brain Damage
We often picture our bodies deteriorating because of drug and alcohol abuse, but not our brains. Unfortunately, our brains are the first thing to go when addiction kicks in. The chemicals in many drugs alter the hormones in our brains to a point where our most important organ is no longer recoverable.
Drugs also cause us to lose important nutrients that our brains need to continue being healthy. In fact, studies done on the brains of patients addicted to some drugs show that the size of their brain is 1/2 that of a normal person's! A smaller brain can't operate as well and can cause many long-term mental health deficiencies.
4. Scarred Skin
One easy way to spot a meth abuser is to look at their skin. Because of the increase in adrenaline that meth provokes on our bodies, many users tend to pick at or scratch their skin, causing cuts and bruises. Unfortunately, the same drugs enter our blood and impact it to a point where our bodies and our skin are unable to naturally heal even small injuries.
The combination of these two factors leads to scars on the skin. Though it's not pleasant, it's a harsh reality of what our bodies go through when we subject them to hard drugs.
5. Changes in Brain Chemistry
Drugs affect our bodies by changing the levels of certain chemicals in our brain. Some drugs, like cocaine, boost dopamine production. Other drugs increase our adrenaline. All of these changes to brain chemistry, while seemingly temporary, have many long-term side effects because our brain chemistries never reach normal levels again.
When the chemistry in our brain changes, our personalities and actions differ. Changes in brain chemistry are what cause mood swings, depression, and manic behavior. With enough drugs, you will find yourself becoming a new, unrecognizable person.
6. Liver Damage
While alcohol is considered a healthy drug and many of us use it, it is still possible to be addicted to it, which can lead to horrible long-term effects.
One of the most common long-term issues with alcohol abuse is liver damage. Liver injury, known as cirrhosis, can lead to horrible symptoms and pain which are usually permanent, even with abstinence. Heavy drinkers are also susceptible to liver failure, with many cases ending in death.
7. Memory Impairment
One of the best things about growing old is looking back fondly at old memories. Unfortunately, addiction to many drugs can lead to partial or even complete memory loss.
The most impactful substances for this memory loss are hallucinogens, but marijuana and alcohol abusers have also shown to display some signs of long-term memory loss.
8. Persistent Psychosis
Users of hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD or Ecstasy are also susceptible to the possibility of persistent psychosis. Though rare, this is a disorder that can be onset with just one use of the drug, though it is more common with addicts.
Persistent psychosis is a state of chronic psychotic symptoms that don't go away once the drug dissipates. This is caused by a change in brain chemistry that becomes permanent, and consistently causes hallucinations, paranoia, and can even lead to schizophrenia.
9. Korsakoff's Syndrome
Korsakoff's is a very extreme impairment that is caused by addiction to alcohol, the most popular and accessible drug of all. Because of the damage alcohol causes to the stomach lining, the body can not process thiamine well. Thiamine is a nutrient found in food like poor, and it is vital for life.
An inability to process thiamine leads to a loss in many motor capabilities. People with Korsakoff's have difficulty walking, talking, and taking care of themselves. This is one extreme case of what drugs do to you if you let addiction get out of hand.
The most permanent side effect of all, death is a very real possibilities for many addicts of many different drugs. From bad choices made under the influence of drugs to damage to organs such as the heart, brain, and lungs, there are many ways an addiction to drugs can kill you.
Do You Know What Drugs Do To You?
If you believe this article covers all of what drugs do to you, you're unfortunately wrong. The long-term effects of drug addiction are plenty, and this article only covered a few.
If you or a loved one are struggling to cope with a drug addiction, be sure to visit our rehab reviews page. We have many methods that can help you recover your true self and get you back on your feet to avoid long-term impacts like these.