How Addiction Impacts Digestion

How does dependence affect the body?

When discussing the consequences of substance use, we typically focus on the mental effects, such as mood changes, anxiety, depression, and cognitive impairment. On the other hand, we also consider physical effects like brain and cardiovascular damage, among others. However, there is little mention of how addiction impacts digestion.

You might wonder, “How does dependence affect the body?” It’s essential to recognize that the consequences of substance use vary depending on a range of factors, such as the type of substance used, the duration of use, and any pre-existing medical conditions.

But, in this blog by MAT Care Clinics, we will focus on discovering how addiction impacts digestion.

Understanding Substance Use

To further elaborate on the intricacies of substance use and addiction, it’s essential to understand the psychological and physiological factors at play. Addiction isn’t merely a matter of weak willpower; it’s a complex interplay of biological, psychological, and social elements.

Substance use, whether it involves alcohol, opioids, or other drugs, fundamentally alters the body’s chemistry and physiology. When individuals ingest substances, they interact with the brain’s neurotransmitters, disrupting the delicate balance that regulates mood, pleasure, and other essential functions. For instance, alcohol increases the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, leading to feelings of euphoria. Similarly, opioids bind to specific receptors in the brain, numbing pain and inducing a sense of relaxation.

However, repeated substance use can lead to tolerance, where higher doses are needed to achieve the same effects, and dependence, where the body becomes reliant on the substance to function normally, as explained in the Journal of Clinical Toxicology. This dependence can quickly spiral into addiction, characterized by compulsive drug-seeking behavior despite adverse consequences.

How Addiction Impacts Digestion

While the mental and physical consequences of addiction are well-documented, it is essential to also know about the effects on the digestive system. Substance abuse disrupts normal digestive processes and causes a range of issues in the gastrointestinal system.

According to the National Library of Medicine, substances like alcohol and synthetic drugs can increase the risk of developing cancer in different parts of the digestive system, such as the colon and rectum. Synthetic drugs like ecstasy can also cause damage to the digestive and hepatic systems, as well as vascular complications in the stomach.

Let’s take a deeper look at how substances can affect the digestive system:

Alcohol Impact:

Alcohol exerts its effects on the digestive system from the moment individuals ingest it. As it passes through the esophagus and into the stomach, alcohol can irritate the mucous membrane lining, leading to inflammation and gastritis. This inflammation can cause symptoms such as stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting.

Furthermore, alcohol is notorious for its damaging effects on the digestive tract. Chronic alcohol consumption can lead to inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis), which may cause pain, nausea, and vomiting. Moreover, alcohol can weaken the muscles that control the opening between the esophagus and the stomach, leading to acid reflux and heartburn. Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to more severe conditions such as pancreatitis, liver disease, and even cancer of the digestive tract.

Side Effects of Opioid Dependence on the Stomach:

Opioids, including prescription painkillers and heroin, affect the digestive system in several ways. One of the most common side effects of opioid use is constipation. Opioids bind to receptors in the gastrointestinal tract, slowing down the movement of food and stool and leading to difficulty passing stool, bloating, and abdominal discomfort.

Opioid dependence

Additionally, according to Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, opioids can affect the muscles that control the opening between the esophagus and the stomach, leading to problems with swallowing and digestion. Over time, chronic opioid use can cause further damage to the digestive tract, increasing the risk of conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and peptic ulcers.

Cocaine’s Effects on the Stomach:

When cocaine is ingested, either by snorting, injecting, or smoking, it rapidly enters the bloodstream and reaches the stomach. In the stomach, cocaine can cause significant damage and disrupt normal gastrointestinal function through several mechanisms.

Firstly, cocaine’s vasoconstrictive properties, which constrict blood vessels, can lead to reduced blood flow to the stomach lining. The diminished blood supply deprives the stomach tissues of oxygen and essential nutrients, resulting in tissue damage and potentially leading to the formation of ulcers or erosions. These ulcerations can cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and even gastrointestinal bleeding in severe cases.

Moreover, cocaine can directly irritate the stomach lining, leading to inflammation and heightened sensitivity. Chronic cocaine use may exacerbate this irritation, leading to chronic gastritis, a condition characterized by persistent inflammation of the stomach lining.

How to Achieve Sobriety

Substance use can impact various aspects of an individual’s life, including physical health, emotional well-being, and relationships with family, friends, and society at large. It’s crucial to recognize that overcoming addiction is a multifaceted journey that requires comprehensive support and resources. You can start by:

1. Acknowledgment and Acceptance: The first step is recognizing and accepting the problem. Denial can be a significant barrier to recovery.

2. Seek Support: Reach out to friends, family, or support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Having a support system can provide encouragement and accountability.

3. Professional Help: Consider seeking help from a therapist, counselor, or a specialist center. They can provide personalized treatment plans and support tailored to your needs.

4. Develop Coping Strategies: Learn healthy ways to cope with stress, cravings, and triggers. These strategies could include mindfulness techniques, exercise, hobbies, or relaxation exercises.

5. Avoid Triggers: Identify and avoid situations, people, or places that trigger cravings or temptations to use substances.

6. Explore Treatment Options: Depending on individual needs, treatment options may include detoxification, residential treatment programs, outpatient programs, or medication-assisted treatment.

7. Stay Committed: Recovery is a lifelong process. Stay committed to your sobriety, even when faced with challenges or setbacks. Remember that relapse does not mean failure but rather an opportunity to learn and grow.

Receive Professional Support with Us

MAT Care Clinics helps you to overcome substance use

In the pursuit of the correct support to achieve long-lasting recovery, MAT Care Clinics offers a patient-centered approach. Through FDA-approved medications, we have succeeded in preventing and treating substance abuse involving opioids and alcohol.

Medication-assisted treatment has helped many individuals in our centers in Manchester and Nashua reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings, thus facilitating detoxification and the recovery process. Moreover, these medications can block the effects of drugs, reducing the likelihood of relapse.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at (833) 622-0628 or schedule a free appointment with our specialists.

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