- Drug Dependence
- Physical Effects: Short Term Health Problems
- Physical Effects: Long Term Health Problems
- Psychological Problems
- Injuries and Accidents
- Social Problems
- Pregnancy-Related Problems
- Facing the Problem
Drug addiction is a problem. That phrase commonly applies to the individuals who are struggling with it. But it also applies to the people who deal with drug-addicted individuals and society in general. Drug abuse and addiction is a big bundle of problems.
In fact, substance abuse is such a common issue that everyone probably knows someone else who is abusing a drug or has been through a similar scenario. It is a social problem, as it has been categorized several times before.
But because of the generalization that “drug problem” equals “big problem,” many people often forget just how extreme this situation is. It is a multi-layered dilemma that not only affects the individual who is suffering through it, but also everyone around him.
It has several different effects, physical and psychological, short term and long term, and even intrapersonal and interpersonal.
Drug addiction affects several aspects of a person’s life, including their health, their relationships, their community, and their own sense of self-worth. Today we are going to discuss the extent of damage that can occur when a person goes too far with their drug abuse. Here are the many problems associated with drug addiction.
To start this off, we need to clarify that the extent of damage and the severity of effects that can occur with drug addiction can and will vary from person to person. No two cases are exactly the same. There are many factors that come into consideration, including: the substance abused, the frequency of intake, the dosage taken, the person’s health condition, the length of time spent abusing the drug, their mental health, their rate of metabolism, and whether or not they abuse any other substance.
Drug dependence is often compared with addiction, or used as a substitute for the term. The fact is that these are two closely-related things, wherein one may cause the other.
Drug addiction involves compulsive use of the drug, or “craving” for the substance. Drug dependence is often the cause (or one of the effects of) addiction. It is the state of being unable to function properly without the drug’s presence. The body has become used to having it in the system, so it forces the body to take more and more just to get the same effects.
Quitting abruptly once dependence has developed may cause withdrawal symptoms, some of which can be fatal.
Physical Effects: Short Term Health Problems
When speaking about the effects of addiction, one will mostly cover the adverse health effects because they are the most numerous. They can be broken down into two categories: short term and long term effects.
On the short term, a drug addicted person may experience sudden changes in appetite, heart rate, mood, and blood pressure. This may lead to heart attack, stroke, overdose, and even death. These intense effects are common for people who frequently abuse larger doses of any drug. The body could not handle the intruding substance and reacts negatively to it.
It can affect nearly every organ in the body. It can weaken the immune system, cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and even seizures, in some instances.
Physical Effects: Long Term Health Problems
Long term health effects occur for people who have been abusing a certain drug for a significant span of time. Often associated with this type of abuse are conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and even mental illnesses.
HIV/AIDS is common for those who use a shared syringe when taking a drug intravenously.
This stage is often associated with various behavioral changes, as the person prioritizes obtaining the drug over everything else. Getting high becomes their primary focus. They display aggression, agitation, confusion, or depression when unable to get their dose.
Drug addiction and dependence both make it extremely difficult for a person to quit the drug, meaning they keep on abusing it even when health conditions are making them suffer.
Addiction causes behavioral changes, because it hijacks the so-called “reward system” of the brain. It brings unbelievable euphoria, flooding the brain with dopamine. It causes cognitive problems, making users unable to recall certain memories, make good decisions, or simply pay attention to important details.
Drugs can alter the brain chemistry. This also means that the person more frequently craves the drug.
They may display uncharacteristic behavior such as aggressiveness, paranoia, impulsiveness, or loss of self-control. In some of the worst cases, the individual may experience hallucinations or psychosis.
Mental illness and drug abuse are sometimes linked with one another. One thing may cause the other in some people. It can cause anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia.
Injuries and Accidents
Beyond the health problems lies another thing to be worried about: external forms of danger. Because of the various behavioral changes that a person goes through due to addiction, they may put themselves at risk of injury or even death.
The way they behave may be uncontrollable. Their cognitive abilities may be impaired. This becomes particularly dangerous when the person is driving while drugged.
They may get into fights, they may harm other people, and even harm themselves in the process.
Back in 2000, drug abuse and smoking were connected to around 460,000 deaths.
Injuries and accidents caused by drug-addicted individuals don’t just affect the actual person: they could also harm other people. In cases of drugged driving, they can cause an accident that injures or kills other people on the road.
They may engage in criminal activity due to their aggressive behavior. This not only makes them a threat to the people around them, it also puts them on the other side of the law.
Drug addiction is a social problem because it also affects the community around the drug abuser.
As these things happen, relationships tend to crumble. Friendships get tested, romantic relationships can break, and even families can get torn apart.
Hobbies they used to enjoy won’t appeal to them anymore. They won’t even show up to work, and their career suffers in the process.
The individual isolates himself from the rest of the world, ignoring responsibilities, avoiding people, and trying to hide their drug use. And the worst part is that they may even refuse help from their loved ones.
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Beyond its effects on the individual and their community, a person abusing a drug may even affect an individual that’s yet to be born. Pregnant women who use illicit drugs may pose various risks for their babies. In some instances, babies are born too small, or too soon, or with birth defects.
These children may suffer from withdrawal symptoms, or have behavioral or learning problems in the future.
Facing the Problem
As bleak as this may all sound, recovery is still possible. However, if you are a family member whose loved one is addicted to a drug, you have to remember that you can’t make them sober. You can’t cure addiction. And you also cannot blame yourself for this situation.
All you can do is guide them, ask them to get rehabilitated, and then support them in any way you could. It takes a long time to recover from addiction safely. It’s a long and challenging process. Relapse is perfectly normal. But do not accept any behavior that crosses your boundaries. The addicted individual must learn for themselves what the effects of drug addiction are, and how serious their problem is.
They must want to recover, or else they will continue abusing the drug.
Find a good rehabilitation center near you, and then try to see what happens. Recovering from addiction will most likely involve detoxification or behavioral therapy.
Just do your part to support your loved one. You will be doing them a world of good. The rest is up to them.