Those people with addiction often have one or more associated health issues, which could include lung or heart disease, stroke, cancer, or mental health conditions. Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances, including alcohol and illicit drugs.
Imaging scans, chest X-rays, and blood tests can show the damaging effects of long term drug use throughout the body.
THE THREE MAIN TYPES OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE
♦️ Depressants slow or ‘depress’ the function of the central nervous system. They slow the messages going to and from your brain. In small quantities depressants can cause a person to feel relaxed and less inhibited. In large amounts they may cause vomiting, unconsciousness and death. Depressants affect your concentration and coordination, and slow your ability to respond to situations.
It is important to not operate heavy machinery while taking depressants. Alcohol, cannabis, GHB, opiates (heroin, morphine, codeine) and benzodiazepines (minor tranquillisers) are examples of depressants.
♦️ Hallucinogens distort your sense of reality. You may see or hear things that are not really there, or see things in a distorted way. Other effects can include emotional and psychological euphoria, jaw clenching, panic, paranoia, gastric upset and nausea. Ketamine, LSD, PCP, ‘magic mushrooms’ and cannabis are examples of hallucinogens.
♦️ Stimulants speed or ‘stimulate’ the central nervous system. They speed up messaging to and from the brain, making you feel more alert and confident. This can cause increased heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature, reduced appetite, agitation and sleeplessness.
In large amounts stimulants may cause anxiety, panic, seizures, stomach cramps and paranoia. Caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines (speed and Ice), cocaine and ecstasy (MDMA) are examples of stimulants.
EFFECTS OF SUBSTANCE ABUSE CAN BE SHORT AND LONG-TERM HEALTH ISSUES
♦️ Short-term Health Issues Includes:
– You are more likely to have an accident at home, in a car, or wherever you are.
– You may be vulnerable to sexual assault or you may engage in unprotected sex which could lead to pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection.
– You could commit a sexual assault or other violent act.
– You may find it hard to sleep, think, reason, remember and solve problems.
♦️ Long-term Health Issues Includes:
– Harm to organs and systems in your body, such as your throat, stomach, lungs, liver, pancreas, heart, brain, nervous system
– Cancer (such as lung cancer from inhaling drugs)
– Infectious disease like Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C (a serious liver disease) infection can occur from sharing injection equipment and from unsafe sexual activity.
– Increased incidence of risk-taking behaviors
– Harm to your baby, if you are pregnant
– Acne, or skin lesions if the drug you are taking causes you to pick or scratch at your skin
needle marks and collapsed veins, if you inject regularly
– Jaw and teeth issues due to clenching and grinding your teeth; or bad breath, teeth cavities and gum disease
– Mood swings and erratic behavior
– Psychosis (losing touch with reality)
– Accidental overdose
higher risk of mental illness, depression, suicide and death.
Substance Abuse and mental illness often co-exist. In some cases, mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, or schizophrenia may come before addiction; in other cases, drug use may trigger or worsen those mental health conditions, particularly in people with specific vulnerabilities.
Some people with disorders like anxiety or depression may use drugs in an attempt to alleviate psychiatric symptoms, which may exacerbate their mental disorder in the long run, as well as increase the risk of developing addiction. Treatment for all conditions should happen concurrently.