Substance Addiction: 5 Harmful Effects Of Drugs And Alcohol
Substance abuse or addiction means chronic use of drugs and alcohol. Your one drink a day can quickly become a bottle if you do not control your addiction. The unfortunate thing is that alcohol abuse can make a person susceptible to other forms of addiction, such as taking harmful drugs like marijuana, heroin, etc. Using either alcohol or drugs can start as a hobby that can slowly turn into a full-fledged addiction. However, long-term substance addiction can result in significant health complications that quickly escalate into life-threatening conditions. Listed below are some of the harmful effects of alcohol and drug abuse.
How Might Substance Use Disorder Affect Me
Drugs affect the brain, especially the reward center of the brain.
Humans are biologically motivated to seek rewards. Often, these rewards come from healthy behaviors. When you spend time with a loved one or eat a delicious meal, your body releases a chemical called dopamine, which makes you feel pleasure. It becomes a cycle: You seek out these experiences because they reward you with good feelings.
Drugs of abuse send massive surges of dopamine through the brain, too. But instead of feeling motivated to do the things you need to survive , such massive dopamine levels can lead to damaging changes that change thoughts, feelings and behavior. That can create an unhealthy drive to seek pleasure from the drug and less from more healthy pleasurable experiences. The cycle revolves around seeking and consuming drugs to get that pleasurable feeling.
Addiction to drugs changes the brain over time. It affects how the brain works and even the brains structure. Thats why healthcare providers consider substance use disorder a brain disease.
The first use of a drug is a choice. But addiction can develop, creating a very dangerous condition. Drugs affect your decision-making ability, including the decision to stop drug use.
You may be aware theres a problem but unable to stop. With addiction, stopping drug use can be physically uncomfortable. It can make you sick and even become life-threatening.
The Effects Of Drug Addiction
Within the modern medical community, drug addiction is understood to be a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. This disorder is not something people are born with. Rather, drug use itself create the structural and functional changes in the brain that characterize the disorder. With prolonged drug use, the brain comes to adapt to the presence of the drug, modifying neurotransmitter activity and reconfiguring brain regions involved in learning, memory, judgment, and decision-making. These changes mean that your loved one needs a continuous supply of drugs to maintain equilibrium while simultaneously conditioning the brain for compulsive drug-seeking, diminished impulse control, and compromised cognitive function. In other words, while environmental, psychological, environmental, and experiential factors can set the stage for addiction to take hold, addiction itself is a distinct neurological phenomenon that, if untreated, is self-perpetuating.
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Is Treatment For Drug Addiction Inpatient Or Outpatient
Both inpatient and outpatient treatment plans are available, depending on your needs. Treatment typically involves group therapy sessions that occur weekly for three months to a year.
Inpatient therapy can include:
- Therapeutic communities or sober houses, which are tightly controlled, drug-free environments.
Self-help groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous can help you on the path to recovery. Self-help groups are also available for family members, including Al-Anon and Nar-Anon Family Groups. Participation in 12-step based recovery work has been proven to improve outcomes.
Can Drugs Cause Personality Disorders
There is a link between drug addiction and a set of mental health conditions known as personality disorders. Unhealthy thinking and behavior considered by society as out of the norm characterize these illnesses. Drug addiction doesnt cause personality disorders, but rather vice versa. Individuals with personality disorders have a higher chance of turning to drugs or alcohol and developing substance abuse disorders.
Substance abuse disorders are prevalent among people with antisocial personality disorders . In fact, 90% of APD sufferers also become dependent on substances. The strong relationship between antisocial personality disorder and substance abuse means that those affected by the condition are inclined to abuse drugs at some point or another.
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What Is A Bad Reaction Or Trip
A person using drugs can sometimes have a bad reaction also called a bad trip. This is often linked to hallucinogenic drugs.
The intensity of the high experienced during a bad trip can be overwhelming and frightening and the user can become unstable, even violent. They risk harming themselves and/or others around them.
Contact the National Alcohol and Other Drug Hotline if you need help or advice. Of course, if its an emergency, phone 000 and ask for an ambulance.
Children Of Alcoholics And Drug Addicts
Drug addiction and family dynamics are closely tied, but among all of the victims of substance abuse, perhaps no one suffers as much as children. The effects of drug abuse on family members, specifically for children of addicted parents, can be felt long after childhood and well into adulthood. Parental alcoholism and drug addiction can create poor self-image, loneliness, guilt, anxiety, feelings of helplessness, fear of abandonment, and chronic depression in children.4 Maternal substance abuse during pregnancy can also lead to a host of behavioral and developmental disorders in children.5
One in five adult Americans lived with an alcoholic relative at some point during their childhoods. Overall, these individuals are at a greater risk for behavioral and emotional problems when compared to children of non-alcoholics as these toxic alcoholic family roles form. Children who have alcoholic family members are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than individuals not raised by alcoholics. They are also more likely to have difficulty dealing with stress and highly likely to marry an alcoholic or abusive spouse later in life.6
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How Does Substance Abuse Affect The Community
Is substance abuse a social problem that can have a negative effect on an entire community? What are the social consequences of drug trafficking and rampant drug use in a community?
Many communities have been seriously affected by wide spread drug use and the effects of drugs on many members of the community. There are small towns where a large percentage of residents are addicted to meth or addicted to opioids.
The same may happen within a close knit community or neighborhood, even within a large city. The social impacts of drug abuse on the community can be devastating.
There are neighborhoods where young children are employed by drug dealers to sell drugs on the streets. Even if these children do not end up using the drugs they sell, the effects of drugs and the drug culture and involvement in drug trafficking do have serious consequences for them.
Families are often torn apart by the consequences of drugs and drug use. Life after leaving an addict can be difficult, especially if the addicted person was a parent, leaving the other parent to manage the entire household.
Human services may get involved with the intent of helping the children, separating them from an addicted parent. Yet, wherever possible, providing successful treatment to the addicted parent and helping them to regain their position as a contributing member of the family is often the best solution.
The Many Ways Addiction Affects The Family
Battling a substance use disorder is viewed by many as a personal experience. Because harmful substances have devastating effects on the user, many may not take into consideration the other people involved. Spouses, children, and parents may all be impacted by the way addiction affects the family.
The effects of drug and alcohol addiction can be both short-term and long-term. Peaceful, loving homes can be divided by the strain caused by drug and alcohol abuse. Conflict becomes normal as family members fight to engage with a child who abuses Heroin, for example. Trust begins to erode. Relatives may become more guarded if a relative abusing illicit substances acts with aggression or hides their disorder in secrecy. Marriages can end due to changes caused by addiction. Communication becomes more difficult, highlighting frustration.
Family members may see their relative endure side effects of drugs or fly into rages when under the influence of alcohol. Others may see their relatives lose weight rapidly, becoming unrecognizable. Some may not hear from a loved one for an extended period of time, only to discover that they are living on the street or have fatally overdosed. Such shocks can cause a relative to endure severe trauma or develop unhealthy coping mechanisms like codependent behaviors in response.
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Top 10 Health Consequences Of Drug Abuse
There were 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the United States in 2017. Short-term and long-term health effects occur from repetitive drug abuse over the years. Specific effects depend on the person, how much is being used, medical history and, of course, which substance are being used.
Continue reading to find out the top 10 health conditions associated with drug abuse and how our staff can help you.
Health Problems Associated With Addiction
In addition to the psychological effects of addiction, drug and alcohol abuse have the potential to lead to an array of other health conditions. Chronic substance use is a risk factor for the following illnesses:
- Disorders that affect decision-making
There are a lot of similarities between anxiety and the effects of stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine. Conversely, using central nervous system depressants can also increase the risk of a person developing anxiety. Although they calm a persons nerves while theyre intoxicated, they intensify anxiety when the effects wear off.
Additionally, many addicts experience anxiety around trying to hide their habits from other people. In a lot of cases, its difficult to tell whether anxious people are more likely to abuse substances or if drugs and alcohol cause anxiety.
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Why Some Become Addicted
Not everyone who experiments with drugs becomes an addict. Theres no single factor that can predict whether someone will become addicted, though there are general social, biological, and environmental factors that do increase the risk.
Biology. Genes, in combination with environmental factors, account for about half of a persons addiction vulnerability. Being male, African American, or having a mental illness can also increase a persons risk of progressing to addiction.
Environment. Family, friends, and socioeconomic status have a significant impact on a persons likelihood of developing an addiction. Physical and sexual abuse, peer pressure, stress, and parental guidance can greatly affect the occurrence of substance abuse.
Development. Although a person can become an addict at any age, the earlier substance use begins, the more likely it will escalate to serious addiction.
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Essay On Causes And Effects Of Drug Addiction
Many people associate drug misuse and addiction to crime and lack of moral principles or willpower. The decades-long war on drugs of the US only reinforces this mindset. However, drug addiction is a complex chronic disease that does not just involve one person. Drug misuse is a societal issue as much as it is a medical issue, and therefore should not be simplified as a crime to be fought.
In order to see drug addiction as the disease it truly is, this essay explores the causes and effects of drug addiction. The succeeding body paragraphs will discuss the reasons why people use illicit drugs, how addiction develops, and why its difficult to simply drop the addiction. Then, the author will tackle the effects of drug abuse on the individual, their family, and society, as well as how the consequences of drug abuse often compound the issue and make it difficult for those with drug addiction to rehabilitate and recover. This cause and effect essay then concludes with the thesis statement that much of the causes of drug abuse is often the result of normal choices that lead individuals toward addiction, and is thus beyond the individuals control or willpower, and the various effects of drug addiction make it disproportionately difficult to return to a life of sobriety.
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The Risks Of Overdose
The most serious potential long-term effect of drug abuse and drug addiction is death. Drugs can kill slowly over time, but they can also cause a fatal overdose. Any misuse of any type of drug puts a person at risk for having an overdose that may be fatal. That risk increases when using street drugs, because the strength or purity is impossible to know. The risk also increases when combining drugs or using drugs with alcohol. For example, combining substances that depress breathing, like opioids and sedatives, greatly increases the risk of a fatal overdose.
Drug abuse and drug addiction have serious and lasting impacts on all aspects of a personâs health, as well as other areas of life, like relationships and finances. But anyone who abuses drugs has reason to hope in spite of these effects. Good, effective, long-term treatment can help reverse much of the damage caused by drugs and gives a person a chance to put their life back together.
What Happens To Your Brain When You Take Drugs
While the specific effects of drugs on the brain can vary somewhat depending on the drug that people abuse, virtually every drug that is abused has an effect on what professionals often call the executive functioning areas of the brain. The functions of those areas can be remembered by thinking about the tasks of the chief executive officer in any company: planning, organizing, prioritizing, acting when it is time to act, as well as delaying or preventing action when appropriate. The parts of the brain that tend to harbor the executive brain functions are the front-most parts of the brain, called the frontal lobes, including the frontal cortex and prefrontal cortex. When a person takes drugs, the inhibitory functions of the brain are particularly impaired, causing the person to have trouble stopping him or herself from acting on impulses that the brain would otherwise delay or prevent. This disinhibition can lead to the substance abuser engaging in aggressive, sexual, criminal, dangerous, or other activities that can have devastating consequences for the addicted person or those around him or her. Given that the brain of individuals below about the age of 25 years is in the process of actively and rapidly developing and is therefore not fully mature, drug use that takes place during the childhood or teenage years can have particularly negative effects on the younger person’s ability to perform all these essential executive functions.
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Devastating Psychological Effects Of Drug Addiction
Substance abuse and mental health are linked because the psychological effects of drug addiction, including alcohol, cause changes in your body and brain. A careful balance of chemicals keeps the cogs turning inside your body, and even the smallest change can cause you to experience negative symptoms.
Excessive alcohol and drug use sends your nervous system into disarray, rewires your brain, and causes inflammation all of which can cause mental illness. Read on to find out more about the emotional effects of substance use disorders.
Environmental And Experiential Factors
Environmental and experiential factors can affect the development of addiction in a number of critical ways. Researchers have found that family atmosphere, strength of family ties, sense of family happiness, structure of authority in the family, and alcoholism can all have a significant impact on risk of addiction. More specifically, people who grow up in hostile family environments, families with weak ties, and families in which alcohol or drug abuse was present are more likely to develop addiction. Other environmental and experiential factors linked to addiction include:
- Early exposure to drugs, especially at critical developmental stages
- Childhood abuse, including physical, emotional, and sexual abuse
- Trauma, including traumas experienced in adulthood
- Lack of healthy social supports and activities
One of the most significant risk factors for the development of addiction is exposure to a social environment in which drugs are available and acceptable. It is known that peer attitudes regarding drugs is a critical predictor of substance abuse amongst adolescents and studies have found that peers are the most important influence with regard to initiation. However, the impact of peer attitudes extends beyond adolescence. People whose social or professional environments encourage substance use are more likely to both use drugs and alcohol and develop substance use disorders.
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How Can I Learn More About The Social Effects Of Drugs And The Social Effect Of Drug Abuse On The Individual And The Community
Listening to podcasts on recovery can help to learn more about these important issues. On our podcast, we interview experts in the field of addiction, as well as people who are recovering from addiction, to learn more about the social consequences of drug use and how to overcome them.
While the social effects of drug abuse can negatively affect families, sometimes family issues are part of the underlying causes that lead a person to addiction, such as with narcissistic abuse within a family structure. We discuss this issue of family involvement in addiction in various episodes on the podcast.
In addition to the podcast, we also have many articles on this website dedicated to the topic of drug and alcohol addiction and medical treatment for substance use disorders. Please take the time to search and explore through our library of content, and please let us know what you find most useful.
There is no doubt that the effect of drugs on society is a serious problem, but by learning more about harm reduction and effective treatment, we can help to make a difference. By helping individuals to overcome the social isolation and other social problems caused by addiction, we will also be working towards making our communities better places to live.