The Physical Impact of Addiction

There is nothing positive about addiction, and it’s hard on everyone when a loved one is suffering from substance abuse.

When we see a loved one experiencing negative changes, it can be hard to accept or even acknowledge. However, we need to acknowledge the physical health problems that addiction causes in bodies because our loved one might need more help than we initially realized.

The physical impacts addiction has on a person will depend on which drug (or drugs) they’ve been using, how long they’ve been using them for and how much they’ve used. The way their body reacts to the drug, plus the other influences in their life—how they eat, how much they exercise, how much they sleep, and so on—can also affect the impacts of addiction.

Similar health problems can occur from most types of addiction. These include:

  • Increased heart rate and risk of heart and lung disease
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Risk of coma and/or heart failure
  • Respiratory failure
  • Stroke
  • Body and brain seizure
  • Decreased appetite
  • Inability to sleep
  • Weight loss
  • Skin problems, including scabbing and sores
  • Loss of sex drive or impotence
  • Death.

An overdose is the result of a person’s metabolism not being able to detoxify the drug fast enough to avoid the side effects. This can occur when a person takes too much of a drug or when they take a drug to which they are sensitive. There is always a risk of overdose with all drugs, which can lead to extreme health problems, extended hospital stays and even death.

Ideally, you want to get help for a person who has a substance abuse problem before the physical problems become severe. An addict is not going to be the one to ask for help, or even realize that their internal system is failing. If you’re concerned about a loved one’s addiction and the physical implications it might have on them, talk to a doctor or a counsellor to learn more about treatment options.

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