The health risks of drug use will always be worth discussing in detail, not just for those who may be particularly prone to addiction. From detrimental physical and mental consequences to social and legal obstacles, drug use can impact all aspects of one’s life. It can be tough to see the road ahead when caught in a cycle of addiction, so knowledge and awareness are essential when taking appropriate preventative measures.
For individuals who are in the midst of substance use or who have experienced addiction before, MAT Care Clinics has methods for combating the health risks of drug use. We use medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to provide a comprehensive treatment plan for a healthy and sustained recovery while reducing withdrawal symptoms. To ensure you have all the resources you need for optimal physical and mental well-being, here are the health risks of drug use and what you should be wary of before considering any substance.
Physical Health Risks of Drug Use
Substance use disorders (SUDs) present various short and long-term physical health effects, some of which can be life-threatening. SUDs can impact nearly every organ in the human body and bring about irreversible conditions depending on the type, frequency, and overall duration of drug use. Among the many physical health risks of drug use, some of the most prominent and dangerous risks include the following:
- Weakened Immune System – Extended drug use can severely impact one’s immune system, making it weak and much more susceptible to various illnesses, infections, and diseases. A weakened immune system can expedite the potential of other prominent health concerns and is challenging to reverse back to its proper strength.
- Heart Conditions – Complications can range from abnormal heart rates, collapsed veins, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease. Any damage to the heart can be life-threatening and impact other areas of the body, no matter the individual’s health history.
- Decreased Organ Function – Drug use harms organs other than the heart. Among the most frequently affected are the lungs and liver. SUDs can increase strain on the liver, putting individuals at risk of damage or liver failure. Inhaling drugs can decrease lung function and cause lung disease. The decline of function in these organs directly impacts one’s immune system and ability to fight off deadly infections and diseases such as cancer.
- Nausea and Abdominal Pain – No one likes to feel sick, especially for extended periods. Drug use in any capacity can lead to nausea and stomach pains, whether a result of other complications or not.
- Seizures and Strokes – Not all individuals may be prone to seizures, but those who are prone can face life-threatening consequences if one does happen. Both seizures and strokes can lead to permanent brain damage or even death. The unpredictable nature and difficulty of foreseeing these complications make them that much more dangerous to drug users.
Mental Health Risks of Drug Use
Just because an individual’s physical self may stay in form during drug use doesn’t mean they’re immune to other health risks, such as mental complications. Substance use disorders can weigh heavily on the mind, often kickstarting or exacerbating various mental health disorders. Here are some of the most prominent mental health risks of drug use:
- Mood Changes – Drug users may be subject to hasty and sudden mood changes, leading to loss of motivation, stress, anxiety, or hostility. These moods can dramatically alter when someone experiences withdrawal and associated symptoms.
- Depression – The lasting effects of drug use can easily lead to depression, whether from the emotional toll, financial strain, or other issues that can weigh someone down. Prolonged depression can lead to worse outcomes, such as self-harm or suicide.
- Altered Brain Chemistry – Initial drug use may be voluntary, but prolonged abuse where addiction is likely can alter the brain’s chemistry entirely. These alterations can impact cognitive function, compulsion, and memory, leading to intense cravings that are nearly impossible to avoid.
- Drug-induced Psychosis – In severe cases, notably in individuals already prone to mental health disorders, substance use can directly cause episodes of psychosis, including delusions, hallucinations, and paranoia. Psychosis can also occur as an adverse reaction from mixing different substances or withdrawal.
Social Health Risks of Drug Use
As the name suggests, social health refers to an individual’s ability to create meaningful connections with others and the health of said relationships. Social health is as significant as physical and mental well-being since it can provide motivation, enjoyment, fulfillment, and a change in perspective. Some social health risks of drug use include the following:
- Difficulty Creating and Sustaining Relationships – Drug use can affect a person’s ability to hold valuable relationships with family, friends, and new acquaintances. Drug users often isolate themselves and refuse to seek out the help of others, even when they need it most. They may also act differently around those they once felt comfortable with or become secretive about hiding their drug use.
- Risky Behavior – People with SUDs often engage in nefarious activities either under the influence of drugs or as a way to get more drugs. Actions such as theft, driving under the influence, burglary, and in extreme cases, murder can all spawn from prolonged drug use where users must seek out a high in whatever way possible.
- Sexual Dysfunction – While the causes of sexual dysfunction are physical, this risk categorizes as social due to its impact on relationships and marriages. When partners cannot perform or lose excitement from sexual activity, the intimacy and companionship can suffer or sever entirely.
How Does Medication-Assisted Treatment Combat Health Risks?
The first step toward any recovery is acknowledging that recovery is needed. From there, the main priority is finding a treatment plan that suits your needs. Fortunately, medication-assisted treatment is a proven method for combating particular SUDs, especially those that are more difficult to navigate, such as alcohol use disorders (AUDs), opioid use disorders (OUDs), and prescription pain medication addictions.
Medication-assisted treatment involves using various medications to combat feelings of withdrawal when abstaining from a substance. Its primary objective is to prioritize a full recovery and provide the ability for individuals to continue a self-directed life. MAT often coincides with behavioral health therapies such as counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for a comprehensive approach to recovery. When utilized correctly, MAT has proven to improve patient survival rates, increase therapy retention, decrease drug use in people with SUDs, and lower instances of risky behavior.
MAT Care Clinics Can Help You Overcome Drug Use
At MAT Care Clinics, we utilize FDA-approved medications to safely treat alcohol or opioid use disorders while reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings. We understand that rehab isn’t for everyone and can seem overwhelming—that’s why we make it convenient for you to schedule an appointment at our clinic. We offer same-day appointments, free phone consultations, and telehealth appointments to make your road to recovery as convenient as possible.