How Addiction Impacts Your Physical Health

woman smoking cigarette while laying on couch

With recent concerns about COVID-19, individuals are taking a closer look at their health. Addiction and physical health are closely linked. Those suffering from substance use disorders often suffer from health problems; sometimes these physical maladies are present before active addiction — and other times they are a result of prolonged substance use. The lifestyle of addiction diminishes self-care and a propensity to engage in high-risk behaviors.

Links Between Addiction and Your Physical Health

When you consider the relationship between addiction and your physical health, the negative impact of addictive substances are irrefutable. Each class of drugs has its own set of health risks. Here’s a short list of some of the most common substances and physical impairments:

Alcohol: high blood pressure, stroke, digestive problems
Stimulants: heart arrhythmia, increased temperature, high blood pressure, organ failure
Opiates: weakened immune system, impaired breathing, coma
Benzodiazepines: sleep apnea, low blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias

Each class of addictive substances carries the risk of fatal overdose and painful withdrawal symptoms.

Different Means of Taking Drugs Case Varying Physical Effects

In addition to the impact of drugs and alcohol on your physical wellbeing, the method you use to take addictive substances have varying negative effects. Injecting, smoking, and snorting are common routes of consuming drugs. Below are some physical impacts caused by frequently abused substances.

IV Use: Those injecting drugs (known as IV users) are at higher risk of contracting HIV and Hepatitis C. IV drug use places substance users in danger of developing infections at the point of impact and within heart valves. Infection, HIV, and Hepatitis have a lifelong impact on users. In severe cases IV use can be fatal. Injecting substances introduces toxicity directly into the bloodstream, making IV use one of the most dangerous methods of consuming drugs.

woman smoking cigarette

Smoking: Smoking any substance is considered poor for your health. In terms of addiction, smoking is nearly as addictive as injecting a drug. When you inhale the smoke it travels to your lungs where it quickly enters your bloodstream. Effects are almost immediate, creating an intense euphoric high. Continued use creates a strong association between a drug-induced “bliss” and the act of smoking. Inhaling addictive substances can damage your lungs and lead to chronic respiratory infections. It also increases your risk of developing heart problems, asthma, eye complications. Smoking increases the risk of developing certain types of cancers, including mouth, esophagus, and lungs.

Snorting: Snorting is considered less addictive than smoking or injecting addictive substances. However, snorting severely accelerates the development of substance use disorders and has adverse effects on your physical health. When drugs are snorted, it takes about five to ten minutes before it enters the bloodstream. Snorting can cause respiratory damage and an increased risk of respiratory infection. Nosebleeds are common, due to damaged nasal tissues. A persistent runny nose and throat problems are also frequent.

Poor Lifestyle Habits: Another link between addiction and physical health are lifestyle habits. When you become addicted to a drug, getting more of your substance of choice becomes your top priority — despite obvious consequences in everyday life. Malnutrition, insomnia, and poor grooming habits are commonly associated with drug use. The brain’s decision-making ability is also impaired. This impairment makes drug users more likely to engage in risky behaviors, including driving while impaired and engaging in unprotected sex.

Getting Help

Those with health problems or a weakened immune system is more likely to contract communicable disease and COVID-19. The longer substance use disorders remain untreated the worse physical symptoms become; sometimes they are permanent.

We offer the full continuum of addiction treatment including detox, inpatient rehabilitation, partial hospitalization programs, and intensive outpatient care. Call us for immediate assistance.

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