The longer an addiction lasts, the more stress and strain it puts on the individual. There are a number of long-term physical and emotional effects of addiction that can easily turn a healthy man or woman into a frail shadow of their former self.
The following information is designed to help increase awareness about these long-term mental and physical health problems before it is too late.
Psychological Effects of Drug Addiction
According to MedicineNet, an individual who is living with a drug addiction for an extended period of time may begin to experience a number of serious psychological problems as a result of their dependence on drugs. These conditions can range from mild to serious but all will impact the life of the addicted individual in a negative manner.
Among the most common long-term psychological effects of drug addiction are:
- Depression. As an individual develops a tolerance to drugs, it will take ever-increasing amounts of the substance to get high. When the individual is unable to achieve their desired state of euphoria, they may become depressed. Chronic depression also occurs as the drug addict feels shame and remorse about her condition. This creates a cycle of addiction; the more depressed the feel, the more likely they are to continue to use drugs.
- Paranoia. Individuals with a cocaine addiction or marijuana addiction often report a feeling of paranoia over the course of their dependence. The feeling that “everyone is out to get them” is heightened by the fact that buying or using drugs is illegal and the belief that law enforcement is waiting around every corner. Over time, drug addicts tend to get more and more paranoid.
- Anxiety. While waiting for their next dose of drugs, many individuals will begin to feel anxious or unsettled. Friends and family report that their loved one has trouble sitting still or staying focused on a single task for any significant amount of time. This anxiety and lack of focus can cause them to slack on job responsibilities and even lose their job. Relationships are also negatively affected by drug-induced anxiety. These are just some of the ways anxiety permeates the life of the drug addict.
Physical Effects of Drug Addiction
In addition to the numerous mental health issues that spring up as a result of long-term drug addiction, there are also a number of issues affecting the physical health of the individual who is living with a dependence problem for many years. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), these physical effects include:
- The kidneys. The human kidney can be damaged by habitual drug use over a period of many years. Kidney failure is not uncommon among long-time users of crystal meth, heroin and other dangerous drugs.
- The liver. Liver failure is a well-known consequence of alcoholism, but it is also can occur with individuals using Vicodin and OxyContin habitually over many years.
- The heart. Cocaine addicts and stimulant users are doing significant damage to their heart each time they use the drug. The most common conditions among drug addicts are heart disease and heart failure.
- The lungs. Any individual who smokes the drug to which they are addicted is putting their lungs in jeopardy. Smoking crack cocaine or crystal meth damages the lungs with a ferocity that rivals long-term nicotine habits. Regular marijuana use also causes damage to the lungs.
In addition, long-term drug addicts will begin to build a tolerance to drugs. Tolerance is dangerous as it causes the individual to use more and more of the drug in order to achieve the desired euphoric or stimulated state. This puts the individual at a constant risk for overdose and even death.
Help for the Long-Term Drug Addict
The reason that someone has a long-term drug addiction is because they never got the help they needed. It’s important to reach out for that help before it’s too late. In many cases, the damage caused by long-term addiction can be reversed or at least seriously improved with proper treatment and ultimately sobriety. It’s time to get that help. Silence and isolation only serve to make the problem worse with time. And because the individual is unlikely to try and get help on their own, it is often the responsibility of friends and family to get that person into treatment. Holding a drug intervention is one of the most effective ways to accomplish this. During an intervention, loved ones illustrate how the addiction is causing the individual harm and that the addict needs to enter into a drug rehab program before it is too late.
If you’d like advice on staging an intervention for your drug-addicted loved one, or if you’d like information on high-quality treatment programs available across the country, contact us today.