Physical Effects of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can have both immediate and far-reaching detrimental impacts on physical well-being. Both moderate and severe physical and mental consequences have been reported in numerous studies.
At the most essential level, drugs are chemicals which have psychoactive effects, and the results of consistent drug-taking can have health effects which last a lifetime, even after the individual has stopped using the drug.
In fact, substance misuse is the leading preventable cause of death, disease, and disability in South Africa today. Addicts are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse, accidental injury, and other forms of harm to self.
In this article, we take a closer look at how these various substances act on the body to get a better understanding of the effects of substance abuse. South Africa is home to a burgeoning population of recovering addicts, counsellors, and specialists, making it an excellent setting for drug rehabilitation centresGet in touch with us for more information on our South Africa treatment centre.

Guide to Understanding the physical effects of substance abuse

In both the short and long term, there can be serious consequences for those who struggle with substance abuse. The physical effects of drug abuse and addiction are not always the same and might change with the substance, the user, and the circumstances.

Understanding the physical effects of substance abuse
Understanding the physical effects of substance abuse
Understanding the physical effects of substance abuse

Substance abuse and the brain

The “reward” circuit of the limbic system is affected by all drugs, including nicotine, cocaine, marijuana, and others. Mood and instinct are governed by this region of the brain. Drugs that work on this system flood the brain with the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays a role in regulating emotions and pleasure. An increase in dopamine levels is responsible for the sensation of euphoria. In fact, it’s a major contributor to the onset of drug dependency. While initial drug use is typically a voluntary act, with time the user will inevitably become dependent due to the profound effect that drugs have on brain chemistry. Because of this, a person’s capacity to make decisions may be impaired.

Before long, this chemical dependency may cause the user to become totally dependent on drugs or alcohol in order to continue activating the limbic system, which has become impaired by consistent substance abuse.
The communication routes in the brain are disrupted by alcohol, which can have both short- and long-term impacts. The physical effects of alcohol abuse have the potential to alter one’s disposition, actions, and even thought processes.
Nutritional deficits, seizures, and liver illness brought on by alcohol consumption can all lead to brain damage as well. Fetal alcohol spectrum diseases occur when pregnant mothers drink alcohol and the subsequent brain damage affects their unborn children.
Alcohol-related cognitive impairments reportedly respond well to treatment. Abstaining from alcohol over an extended period of time (months to years) has been shown to aid in the partial restoration of cognitive functions including memory. Whiteriver Recovery has one of the best alcohol rehabilitation centres in South Africa.

Substance abuse and the respiratory system

Our lungs and the vital processes they perform are particularly vulnerable to the negative effects of a wide variety of chemicals. Several respiratory problems and chronic pulmonary disorders may be contributed to in varying degrees by smoking cigarettes, crack cocaine, or marijuana.
A number of drugs, including opioids and other CNS depressants including alcohol, benzodiazepines, and other sedatives, have been linked to life-threatening respiratory depression. When used together, these substances greatly increase the possibility of fatal respiratory depression.

Understanding the physical effects of substance abuse
Understanding the physical effects of substance abuse

Substance abuse and the cardiovascular system

In extreme cases, drugs can potentially induce a heart attack by altering the heart’s rate and rhythm. Some scientists have even dubbed cocaine “the perfect heart attack drug” due to its devastating effects on the cardiovascular system. The use of illicit drugs can potentially cause severe swings in blood pressure. Myocardial infarction and stroke are examples of cardiovascular events that may be made more likely by factors like increased heart rate, irregular cardiac rhythms, and pathological changes in blood pressure. Both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, as well as cardiomyopathy, a condition of the heart muscle, are significantly linked to cocaine and amphetamine use.

Substance abuse and the liver

The liver acts as a filter for most substances because it is the principal site of metabolism for many pharmaceuticals. Because of this, the liver is especially vulnerable to damage from substance addiction or overdose.
There are many substances that can be harmful to the liver, but alcohol is at the top of the list. A variety of alcoholic liver disorders can develop in people who regularly consume large quantities of alcohol.

Final Thoughts

While it’s true that substance misuse and addiction can have devastating effects on one’s health, such effects are often reversible with the right treatment and a commitment to staying clean.
Although there is an increased chance of acquiring a number of health problems due to drug use and abuse, in many situations this risk decreases if drug use is discontinued. By preventing overdose and other potentially fatal consequences, treatment can save a person’s life.

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