Drug abuse is a menace that plagues seniors, war veterans, teenagers, and young adults alike. According to the National Cancer Institute, drug abuse is excessive or large-amount consumption of over-the-counter, prescription, or illegal drugs. It is clinically known as substance use disorder, in which individuals develop a habit of taking addictive substances for purposes other than their actual ones. As a result of excessive drug use or overdosing, thousands of people die every year worldwide. Thousands of drug overdose deaths were reported from March 2020 to March 2021 in the US alone, and this number continues to rise every year. While death due to overdose is the most severe outcome of drug abuse, there are various other harmful effects. This article sheds light on some adverse effects of drug abuse on our health.
Short-Term Effects of Drugs
Some drugs can cause short-term side effects even if used in moderation. For instance, consuming more than one serving of alcohol can induce mild intoxication, making an individual feel sleepy or uninhibited.
Besides alcohol, such short-term effects can also result from prescription or illegal drugs. Prescription opioids are used for relieving moderate to severe pain. However, it can also cause drowsiness and shallow breathing. If an individual abuses a drug, they can experience insomnia, changes in appetite, loss of coordination, increased heart rate, slurred speech, or a temporary sense of euphoria.
While most people can overcome the short-term effects of drugs on their own, some need intervention. Many organizations, such as Delphi Behavioral Health Group, offer rehab services for that purpose. Just go to its site delphihealthgroup.com, and start getting treatment right away. Such rehabilitation centers provide individuals with the necessary support from trained professionals. As a result, overcoming short-term side effects becomes easier.
Long-Term Effects of Drugs
When drug abuse continues for an extended period, it can alter the structure and function of the addict’s brain. Moreover, various health issues and psychological problems arise as well. Chronic drug abuse can physically change the neurons or nerve cells, and these changes can stay long after an individual has stopped using the drug.
Some common long-term effects of using drugs are explained below:
- Cardiovascular Diseases
The most common effect of drugs is cardiovascular diseases, ranging from an increased heart rate to a heart attack. Chronic drug usage damages the coronary arteries, and injection drugs can lead to bacterial infections in the heart valves.
Some drugs contributing to cardiovascular issues include marijuana, heroin, cocaine, inhalants, methamphetamine, and steroids.
Cancer is most commonly associated with smoking cigarettes, but tobacco, marijuana, and steroids can also lead to cancer.
Individuals smoking cigarettes are at a high risk of mouth, neck, lungs, or stomach cancer. If individuals start smoking marijuana at a relatively younger age, they can develop testicular cancer. Secondhand smoke from these substances is also harmful to non-users. They are at a high risk of developing lung cancer and various other health problems if exposed to secondhand smoke.
- Gastrointestinal Problems
Various drugs, including cocaine, heroin, opioids, nicotine, kratom, khat, etc., can cause gastrointestinal issues. These drugs may start with apparently short-term effects like vomiting or nausea. However, their effects worsen over time, leading to more severe problems. For example, individuals may start experiencing abdominal pain, acid reflux, severe constipation, and bowel tissue decay.
- Neurological Issues
Due to excessive use of the addictive substance like opioid drug addiction, the brain’s nerve cells become affected and start acting differently. As a result, the individual begins experiencing various neurological, mental, and behavioral problems, like paranoia, depression, hallucinations, lack of self-control, etc. These conditions can also lead to direct toxic effects on the brain and cause seizures or strokes. Common drugs causing neurological and mental problems include cocaine, heroin, inhalants, methamphetamine, marijuana, salvia, ayahuasca, Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), and ketamine.
- Musculoskeletal Disorders
If an individual uses steroids or other drugs during adolescence to artificially increase their sex hormones, it can lead to musculoskeletal problems. These drugs can hinder the growth of the bones at an early stage, leading to short stature, muscle cramping, and muscle weakness. Some common drugs responsible for this condition are inhalants, psilocybin, phencyclidine (PCP), and synthetic cathinones.
- Respiratory Disorders
Respiratory problems also occur due to drug abuse, especially through inhalants such as Marijuana. It can lead to chronic bronchitis, while cocaine causes severe lung damage. Other drugs contributing to respiratory problems like asthma and shallow breathing include heroin, ketamine, Dextromethorphan (DXM), and Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB).
The Bottom Line
Drug abuse can be life-threatening and lead to many physical, neurological, and social problems. The individual destroys not only their health but also their relationships. So, if you or your loved ones are suffering from any kind of addiction, it may be time to get the required help. You only live once; why not live sensibly and enjoy life while you can.
Hope this article brings a change of heart who are addicted to any kind of substance and live their life to its fullest.