Does Long-Term Addiction Cause Health Problems?

Drug addiction is a chronic and complex brain disease that affects millions of people from all walks of life. Addiction takes over every aspect of a person’s life, and before they know it, they find themselves in a daily battle that has progressed over the years. What may start as an injury, with a narcotic prescription for pain, turns into taking the medication much longer than needed? In many cases, the person may be battling mental health issues that they don’t know about or aren’t being treated, and they begin self-medicating. This continues until the person finds themselves physically dependent on medication. 

Another instance may be peer pressure or taking a drug by choice at first. The person likes the way it makes them feel. They find that the drug takes away their stress, depression, or anxiety, if even for a short time. They continue using it until they find they can’t do without it; they’ve now developed an addiction. Once a person has gotten into the chains of addiction, it is very difficult to get out of. As a result, many people go years without getting the proper treatment. This can ultimately lead to many health problems and complications, including physical, psychological, and behavioral.

Does Long-Term Addiction Cause Health Problems?

Psychological Effects of Long-Term Addiction

The correlation between substance abuse disorders and mental health disorders is undeniable. What starts as self-medicating for depression and anxiety eventually causes the mental health aspect of a person’s life. New mental health disorders can develop, and the severity of the old gets much worse. The psychological effects of long-term addiction can range from mild to severe; mood disorders, paranoia, worsening anxiety, and depression. 

Drug abuse can also increase the chances of a person developing a mental health disorder. For example, people with substance abuse disorders are twice as likely to struggle with anxiety or a mood disorder.

Physical Effects of Long-Term Misuse

Long-term addiction can have a major impact on one’s physical health. Sometimes health complications can even be the motivational factor for a person to get help finally. After years of use or repeated relapses, they find themselves falling apart physically, and it gets to a point where they’ve had enough. According to the National Institute of Health:

A recent study showed that the presence of an early substance use disorder often doubles the odds for the subsequent development of chronic and expensive medical illnesses such as arthritis, chronic pain, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and asthma. In general medical practice, failure to detect and address substance use has been associated with misdiagnosis, poor adherence to prescribed care, high use of hospital and emergency services, and even deaths. Despite the extraordinary costs, morbidity, and mortality associated with substance misuse, it has been broadly overlooked throughout healthcare. This has been a costly mistake, with often deadly consequences. (NIH)

Long-term addiction can have a major impact on the lungs, liver, and kidneys as well. It can also cause autoimmune conditions over time. When a person’s body starts deteriorating, treatment is necessary, or death is imminent.

Behavioral Effects of Long-Term Drug Abuse

Addiction changes a person’s entire being. The person they used to be no longer exists, and they find themselves doing things they would have never imagined. For example, they are lying and stealing from the people that they love most. Over time this becomes normal behavior. They can’t hold a job; they can’t take care of home obligations, their friends and social circle change. Essentially the addict forgets what it’s like to live a normal life. Once they decide to get treatment, a lot has to help reintegrate back into the real world. If you are struggling with long-term addiction, get help before it’s too late.

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