People with addictive disorders may suffer from both short-term and long-term effects. Usually, the longer an addiction continues, the more dependence you develop on drugs or alcohol and the more damage it does to your body, mind, and behaviors. The impact of chronic addiction also disrupts family relationships and friendships in very painful ways. These social costs can be damaging. Worst-case scenarios may involve coma or death caused by overdose. Understanding how addiction can harm your health in the long run may give you some perspective and motivate you or your loved one to pursue treatment and recovery. For those who care about loved ones with substance abuse disorder (SUD), this knowledge allows you to have compassion, patience, and more insight into their situations.
What Are the Long-Term Physiological Effects?
Chronic substance use can affect how your body functions in dramatic ways. Because long-term addicts become more tolerant of the substance and need stronger doses to achieve a desired stimulated state, their dependence on drugs and alcohol worsens, leading to greater physiological harm. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), over time, these effects may include damage to your kidney, liver, heart, lungs, and immune system. These direct and indirect effects depend on the specific drugs used, frequency, and your overall health.
The most harmful consequence is changing your brain function, which makes long-term addiction so habitual and difficult to stop. It is for this reason that addiction is sometimes referred to as a brain disease. Things that make people without SUD feel pleasure is changed for addicted individuals. Chronic addiction can be a slippery slope leading to an overdose when you need more of a substance to achieve that same pleasure. Your overall health can deteriorate because long-term addiction also has indirect effects on one’s nutrition and sleep. This is why many chronic addicts appear languished, exhausted, and malnourished.
What Are the Long-Term Psychological Effects?
Addiction and mental health issues are two mutually reinforcing problems–they are each other’s causes and effects. On the one hand, people with psychological disorders are more likely to start using drugs and alcohol. On the other hand, those who engage in long-term use of substances tend to develop psychological disorders or more severe mental health problems. Among these addiction-triggered long-term psychological effects are depression, anxiety, paranoia, and compulsive disorders. For people with these disorders, there is a significant overlap between compulsions and addiction. Compared to the general population, addicted individuals are twice as likely to develop anxiety disorders.
Another reason for co-occurring mental health diseases with SUD is that long-term addiction causes irreversible changes in hormonal production caused by changes in brain chemicals. For example, heroin use can lead to imbalances in the hormonal and neuronal systems that may not be reversible. Cocaine use may cause difficulties with impulse control and memory loss. These mental health issues should be treated together with physiological needs because these two areas are closely intertwined.
What Are the Long-Term Behavioral Effects?
Another big part of the long-term impacts of addiction has to do with your behavior and habits. These are closely related to addiction’s psychological effects. When the first two sets of changes (physiological and psychological) take over one’s life, one may find it hard to do certain things. Normal obligations may seem like insurmountable challenges. That is why people often observe that shifting behavioral patterns caused by addiction can turn their loved ones into different people. These long-term behavioral effects include lethargy, social isolation, compulsive disorders, lack of responsibility, lack of concentration, and denial. These might lead to other behavioral changes such as lying to family and friends, becoming secretive or suspicious, shunning old friends, getting into legal trouble, or compulsive spending.
All these long-term effects are intertwined and complicated, but many are treatable. This is why a holistic approach is needed to treat these areas of addictive disorders. Our body, mind, and behaviors are closely connected, meaning that treating one area while neglecting others isn’t always effective. A holistic treatment philosophy utilizes the expertise of medical, behavioral, and mental health professionals. These intervention experts can prescribe medication and provide counseling and behavioral therapies. For those with severe co-occurring disorders, health professionals can provide dual diagnoses for you.
You can also become part of a group such as a 12-Step group with other people who are healing from long-term addictive disorders. Long-term addiction affects nearly every aspect of a person’s life. The sooner you decide to seek professional help, the fewer negative consequences you’ll have on your health.
Are you or your loved one struggling with long-term effects on both the mind and the body caused by addiction? The sooner you get help, the less damage your addiction can cause you, your family, and your friends. Laguna Shores Recovery can help you design an individualized treatment plan. We believe in proactive intervention and a holistic approach for sustainable recovery. Our cognitive and behavioral therapies, family relationship programs, 12-step groups are designed to assist your recovery. We offer both in-patient and out-patient programs. You will find our full medical detox facility homey and welcoming. Our staff and experienced health professionals have helped many people break from long-term addiction. Now is the time to seek help. We are here to listen and help you find solutions. It is never too late to act. Call us at (866) 229-9923 today to reach out and get started on a new journey toward recovery.