Long term drug addiction doesn’t only have a devastating effect on the mind, but on the body as well. The physical effects of drug addiction depend on the type of drug, method of administration, duration, age, sex and frequency among other things. If you or someone you know is suffering from drug abuse, it’s very important that you pay special attention to these symptoms and seek assistance right away. Here are some of the common harmful effects of prolonged drug abuse on the body.
Brain Chemistry and Function
One of the areas that are most affected by drug abuse is the brain. Drug abuse does only affect brain function and cognitive ability but transforms its whole chemistry as well. And changes in brain chemistry will have a direct effect on the mood and personality as well.
Most drugs will release dopamine into the body, the “feel good” hormone. With time, excessive dopamine release in the brain will lead to dopamine insensitivity, which is often the result of dopamine receptor down-regulation. This is when the body starts lowering its number of dopamine receptors to prevent overload. This means that the drug user will start having more difficulty experiencing pleasure from drugs and in their day to day life, which can lead to depression and a host of other disorders.
Most drugs, even some of the seemingly benign ones like marijuana, will have some sort of effect on your cardiovascular system. Drugs like cocaine, GHB, and heroin are at a particularly high risk of causing a cardiovascular incident. These can range between everything from arrhythmia to heart attacks. Injection could also lead to blood vessel infections or collapsed veins among other things.
Most drugs that are smoked will have a profound effect on the respiratory system. Drugs like marijuana and cigarettes can eventually lead to lung diseases such as emphysema, bronchitis or lung cancer. Crack cocaine can also lead to serious respiratory problems. Other drugs, like opioids for instance, can slow down breathing, block air pathways, or worsen asthma symptoms in some users. This is one of the reasons why opioid users make up such a large portion of the patients admitted into drug treatment centers.
Effects on the Gastrointestinal System
Many drugs will have direct effects on the digestive system as soon as they’re ingested. Some drugs will lead to nausea and vomiting upon use and others might have permanent effects on the gastrointestinal system after frequent use. Drugs like cocaine, for instance, can cause severe damage to bowel tissue over time.
The liver is the organ that is responsible for filtering toxins out of the body and most drugs will have a negative effect on the liver in one shape or form. Alcohol, in particular, can be very harmful to the liver, but drugs such as heroin, DXM, inhalants, and steroids can all have serious effects on the liver as well.
Drug abuse is very serious and something that could seriously affect your overall health as well as your ability to function. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, know that professional help might be the only solution.