Health Complications Caused by Addiction

the negative effect of drugs

The effects of drug abuse on the body, both short-term and long-term, can be life-altering. In some instances, these effects can even be life-threatening. Therefore, it is imperative to understand the health issues that occur with substance addiction.

There is no record containing all the potential outcomes from addiction. This is because each person suffering from substance addiction is different and has a unique genetic makeup. Also, there are other factors to determine how substance-abuse affects people. For example, people with co-occurring disorders could experience different physical health changes than those without a dual diagnosis. Still, there are many negative effects of drug addiction cases, depending on the substance a person uses. 

Immediate & Short-Term Health Complications

Studies show that one of most severe consequences of drug abuse on the body is overdose. In 2017, more than 17,000 people died from a prescription drug overdose. Many more have lost their lives to overdoses from the adverse effects of drugs like fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, and stimulants. The effects of drug abuse in the body could cause a user to stop breathing, which can certainly be fatal in many cases.

An overdose occurs when the effects of drug use overwhelm the user, which sometimes suppresses or stops breathing altogether. Sometimes substance use increases heart rate and blood pressure, which puts the cardiovascular system at risk of causing a stroke or heart attack. Seldom the effects of substance abuse are so strong that a user could even lose consciousness. Along with physical health concerns with taking drugs, the people who abuse substances regularly can also experience an altered perception and hallucinations.

Additionally, other drugs can lead to significant psychological dependence. Once the user decides to quit or cut back, severe withdrawal symptoms can complicate that process. Those who feel agitated, physically ill, or anxious after stopping drug use may find themselves using again to stop the discomfort. This places them at risk for a lifetime of substance abuse.

Long-Term Health Complications

Long-term health complications can also be quite severe by causing a higher risk of chronic conditions and severe substance addiction issues. 

STDs and other infectious illnesses are consequences of long term health complications associated with the effects of drug abuse on the body. Although most can be successfully treated with prescription medications, substance addiction causes such turbulence in someone’s life that sticking to a medication routine becomes difficult. Some people suffering from these diseases caused by drugs blame their symptoms on the substances they proceed to use.

Complications by Drug Category

the negative effect of drugs

Although the negative effects of drugs are linked with routine substance use, other health issues are tied exclusively to one particular drug type. Common substances and diseases caused by drugs include alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and prescription drugs.


Alcohol is a legal substance that is easily accessible, but it can also become addictive if abused. Some people will develop an alcohol use disorder due to disorders hindering them from limiting their consumption. They lose control of their ability to stop drinking even when their alcohol consumption poses a threat. This can also lead people to drink and drive and cause other dangerous and risky behaviors like unprotected sex, leading to severe STDs.

Health issues that are coupled with alcohol abuse include:

  • Stroke
  • Mouth cancer
  • Heart trouble
  • Coordination problems
  • Pancreas problems
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Fertility issues
  • Memory issues
  • Fibrosis of the liver
  • High blood pressure
  • Alcoholic hepatitis

Excessive alcohol abuse costly to alcohol poisoning, which will require immediate attention. When someone is suffering from alcohol poisoning, they’ll experience vomiting, nausea, confusion, breathing problems, and consciousness.


Cocaine abuse usually causes severe short-term effects. But when people use cocaine for a while, they will develop significant adverse effects of drug abuse on the body. Some physical effects of cocaine abuse include the following:

  • Depression
  • Malnutrition
  • Fertility issues
  • High blood pressure
  • Lungs damage
  • Psychosis symptoms
  • Weight loss
  • Seizures
  • Kidney damage
  • Convulsions

Cocaine can be consumed in many ways. This drug can be snorted through the nose, which leads to nasal damage or loss of smell. Snorting cocaine also causes frequent nosebleeds and complicates smelling. Cocaine can also be smoked for a more intensive, quicker high, which could cause respiratory failure. Also, individuals can inject cocaine by mixing with water and shot in the vein with a needle. This can cause many infections to develop like hepatitis or HIV by sharing needles. It can also develop abscesses. Cocaine users can also cause tooth decay when they rub it onto their gums.


People suffering from heroin addiction will experience a range of physical health complications, not only from the negative effects of drug abuse on the body but the risk of spreading diseases through sharing needles. They could also collapse or veins or develop other various infections like tuberculosis.

Heroin can be injected, sort of, or smoked with each method coming with various physical health complications. Heroin users may contract lung issues and difficulty breathing, constipation and loss of appetite, or tooth decay. 

Other physical health issues, coupled with heroin addiction, include:

  • Itching
  • Cold sweats
  • Weakened immune system
  • Deteriorating muscle
  • Gum inflammation
  • Loss of memory

Women who abuse heroin could develop infertility and muscle problems. Users are also susceptible to skin infections, kidney disease, hepatitis, overdose, and in some cases, death.


Substances like alcohol, benzodiazepines, and barbiturates all fall into the category of central nervous system depressants. The negative effect of drugs like these substances slows the brain’s neural process, making users feel sluggish, tired, and sedated.

Other side effects of these sedatives include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Slurring speech
  • Staggered walking
  • Low blood pressure
  • Breathing complications

Central nervous system depressants are also linked to significant psychological dependence. Studies show that when people attempt to stop using sedatives, they will experience severe withdrawal symptoms and potentially life-threatening complications.

When the brain has been sedated for an extended period, these depressants must be steadily removed with medical detox. The withdrawal symptoms of discontinuing sedatives without help become incredibly uncomfortable and, at times, cause fatalities. Withdrawal symptoms linked with sedatives include:

  • Anxiety
  • Seizures
  • Shakiness
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased heart rate
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated temperature

Treatment for Substance Addiction

Substance addiction treatment programs are different for each patient and customized and their unique needs and circumstances. The most effective substance addiction treatment programs on shadow patient’s rehab are actively included during every step. Substance addiction treatment typically includes detox, residential/outpatient programs, and more.

Medical Detoxification

A medical detoxication is the process of patients checking in to a hospital or treatment center to have their body safely purged from drugs and alcohol until they’re no longer present in the system. Detox is usually the first step for patients who are attempting substance addiction treatment.

In some situations, detoxing from certain substances will require medication-assisted treatment to ease severe withdrawal symptoms. These medications are administered and are tapered down by treatment specialists until they become no longer physically dependent on drugs or alcohol. The detox process will usually last 3 to 7 days or longer for some.

Medication-Assisted Treatment 

During medical detox and throughout the treatment process, patients might be prescribed medications to help them get through rehab comfortably. These medications are used for many purposes, including reducing withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and treating co-occurring disorders. Medication-assisted treatment becomes most effective when used with a comprehensive treatment program.

Residential Treatment

Residential treatment for substance addiction offers structured therapy programs designed to address all aspects of a patient’s addiction needs. Patients reside in a healthy, substance-free treatment center while receiving round the clock medical care and therapeutical support. 

Inpatient treatment programs are best for those battling chronic addiction and suffering from co-occurring mental health disorders. Patients’ length of stay at residential treatment centers is 28 to 90 days or even longer for some. 

Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient treatment programs are another form of comprehensive substance addiction rehab. These programs offer a variety of similar treatment methods and therapies as residential treatment programs.

However, outpatient treatment programs allow patients to return home every night during the recovery process. Patients can continue with school, work, or caring for a loved one while attending scheduled treatment sessions during the week.

It is crucial to understand that outpatient treatment programs do not segregate patients from the outside world. Therefore, patients are at risk of encountering triggers that could test their sobriety.

Because of these risks, outpatient treatment programs are best for people with a mild form of addiction and are committed to a disciplined recovery approach. Outpatient treatment programs are great step-down programs upon completing residential treatment and are usually combined with sober living homes. 

Sober Living Homes

Sober living homes serve as a domestic connection linking residential treatment and life in the real world for recovering patients. These facilities are excellent for those in recovery that require additional time, reinforcing what they learned in rehab. Sober living homes are healthy, structured, substance-free environments that provide training wheels for newly sober individuals.

Get Help Today

If you or a loved one is suffering from health complications caused by addiction, do not hesitate any longer. Contact us today here at Daylight Recovery Services and allow our treatment team to get you the answers you seek. Addiction is a disease and treatment is the only cure to reverse the negative effects of drug abuse on the body. Let us help you today. Make today the day you take your life back!