Drug misuse or drug abuse has the potential to tear relationships apart, wreak financial havoc, and most importantly, put your health and life on the line. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), about 38% of adults battled an illicit drug disorder in 2017.
One can have a variety of short-term and long-term effects depending on the specific drug used, how much of it is taken, the user’s health, and other factors. In this article, I’ll be briefly explaining some of the health consequences drug misuse can lead to.
This may come off as a surprise, but most medical associations classify addiction as a disease just like cancer and diabetes. At first, users experiment with drugs because of how it makes them feel.
Addictive drugs flood the brain with dopamine by interrupting the dopamine transmission process and giving the user a sense of euphoria. Over time, the brain builds some resistance to the altered dopamine content, and they’ll need more of the same drug to chase that high.
In the long run, drug addiction can directly damage and kill brain cells, receptors, and neurons. This will affect the user’s mental, physical, and emotional capabilities.
If you or someone you care about is battling addiction, help is right around the corner. Drug rehabilitation centers like The Holistic Sanctuary are there to offer professional help.
Drug users are more likely to contract blood-borne bacterial and viral infections when compared to nonusers. This usually happens in two ways:
- Sharing of needles and other equipment between drug users, and
- Unprotected sexual behavior with infected people (usually due to impaired judgment)
Depending on the disease and how quickly the user gets treatment, these diseases can be life-threatening. Some of the diseases include:
HIV is a virus that attacks our cells which fights off other infections. This weakens our immune system. AIDS is the last stage of HIV. However, if a HIV positive person is treated early and given medication, he or she would not succumb to AIDS.
Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV) are viral diseases that cause inflammation in the liver. Hepatitis can cause liver cirrhosis (scarring) and liver cancer. Cirrhosis causes the liver to shrink and become harden. Currently, there are vaccines for HBC, but not for HCV.
Drug users are a high-risk group for contracting tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is caused by airborne bacteria that are transmitted from person to person usually in crowded, low-income areas with subpar health conditions. Fortunately, tuberculosis can be treated.
Most illegal drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines, and ecstasy have negative effects on the heart. They can damage the tissues of the heart and blood vessels. This reduces the heart’s capacity to pump blood throughout the body like normal as well as causing abnormal heartbeat and heart attacks.
Out of the many drugs, cocaine users are at the highest risk of heart attack and stroke. In fact, even recreational cocaine users may have higher blood pressure and thicken heart muscle walls compared to nonusers.
Our kidneys filter most of the drugs we put in our bodies (both legal and illegal). Some of the kidney damage doesn’t occur directly due to drugs. Rather, it’s indirect damage as a result of other biological events that happen outside the kidneys.
For example, heroin users who share needles have a high chance of contracting bacterial and fungal infections. This can cause inflammation in the kidneys as these infections are brought by the blood.