How Drug Addiction Affects The Brain And Body

Drugs are chemical substances that have an impact on both the body and the brain. The effects of every drug can vary considerably since different chemicals can affect the body in various ways. Some drugs can cause long-lasting and irreversible health issues, persisting long after a person stops using the substance.

 

Drugs can be taken in several ways, including injection, inhalation, and ingestion. The drug’s effects on the body can vary depending on how it is administered. Injection of drugs straight into the bloodstream, for instance, has an immediate effect, while ingestion has a delayed effect. 

 

Unfortunately, all misused substances affect the brain. They induce a “high” by flooding the brain with dopamine, a chemical that helps control our emotions, motivation, and sensations of pleasure. Eventually, these substances can alter the brain’s functioning and impair a person’s decision-making capacity, resulting in extreme cravings and compulsive drug usage. This habit may develop into dependence or addiction over time.

 

Drug misuse or addiction, clinically referred to as Substance Use Disorder (SUD), is caused by the habitual consumption of addictive substances such as alcohol, cannabis, hallucinogens, and opioids. SUD is a disease that leads individuals to continuously use substances despite adverse consequences.

 

Drug misuse is related to more deaths, diseases, and disabilities than any other preventable health problem. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) IC Fact Sheet, approximately 20.4 million people in the US were diagnosed with SUD in 2019.

 

In addition to an increased risk of unintended injuries, accidents, and domestic violence, those addicted to alcohol or drugs are also at a greater risk of suffering from unintentional injuries, accidents, and domestic violence. 

 

Fortunately, SUDs are treatable. The team at DeCoach Rehabilitation Centre aspires to make information about substance use and substance recovery available to everyone that needs it. This information can help family members and friends better identify problematic behavior in their loved ones so they can obtain the help they need.

 

                               Click here to learn more about our recovery programs.

 

Below, we highlight the effects and symptoms that commonly occur as a result of drug dependence. If you are struggling with substance misuse, continue reading to see if you recognize similar symptoms in your own life.

 

How Addictions Affect The Body

 

Drugs can hinder the body’s ability to function effectively. Even ostensibly “mild” drugs like prescription Adderall and Marijuana may have adverse effects. In reality, any addictive substance, in any dose taken over an extended period, can cause severe harm to the body.

 

The Physical Effects 

SUDs are associated with several short-and long-term health issues. These health problems may vary based on the type of substance, the dosage, how often it’s taken, and the user’s general health. Drug misuse and dependency can have far-reaching implications—potentially affecting almost every organ in the body.

 

Side effects include:

 

  • Heart conditions such as irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, blood vessel infections, and collapsed veins from injected drugs
  • Nausea and abdominal pain that contribute to appetite changes and weight loss
  • Increased risk of illness and infection caused by a weakened immune system
  • Heightened strain on the liver placing the user at high risk of developing severe liver damage or liver failure
  • Impaired brain functioning which can lead to convulsions, strokes, impaired judgment, mental confusion, memory loss and other cognitive deficits
  • Kidney damage or failure
  • Lung disease

 

Death is the most severe consequence of substance misuse. Approximately 90 Americans die prematurely every day from an opioid overdose. Deaths associated with synthetic opioids and heroin have increased the most dramatically. In the last year, 212,000 individuals aged 12 or older used heroin for the first time.

 

The Effects on the Brain

Addiction affects the brain on many levels. Alcohol, nicotine, stimulants, opioids, and sedatives enter the brain and circulation upon consumption. Once a chemical reaches the brain, it interacts with the brain’s limbic system to produce intense feelings of well-being, altering the body and mind of the person. 

 

Individuals continue to take drugs to sustain the extreme positive feelings released by the brain, thus perpetuating a cycle of drug use and intense highs. They eventually take the drug to feel normal.

 

Addiction occurs when the brain continues to crave the feeling of reward obtained by using substances. Because of this effect, many users start misusing the substance, leading to various euphoric sensations and bizarre behavioral patterns. 

 

The more a person misuses a substance, the more likely they will continue using it unless they obtain assistance to overcome a potentially fatal addiction. They may become fixated on using it to continue their habit, regardless of the cost. Due to drug abuse’s overwhelming hold, people may begin to behave in unrecognizable ways, which may cause anxiety among friends and family.

The Mind, Dependence, And Withdrawal

Prolonged substance misuse reinforces dangerous behavior.

Over time, the high concentration of chemicals overwhelms the brain, which adjusts to the mental impacts of the drug. The brain then decreases its synthesis of neurotransmitters, the brain’s chemical messengers. 

 

The abrupt cessation of substance use has severe mental, physical, and emotional consequences. Withdrawal symptoms are often more severe for some substances than others. With certain drugs, withdrawal symptoms can be intolerable.

 

For example, Heroin withdrawal is marked by extreme cravings, depression, anxiety, and profuse perspiration. This is primarily due to brain rewiring after prolonged Heroin usage. Withdrawal symptoms often need expert treatment, which may considerably minimize the likelihood of recurrence and the dangers of stroke and heart attack.

 

Addiction and Rehab

Addiction can have catastrophic and complex long-term consequences. The most effective therapy for SUDs enables clients to get individualized treatment, physical and psychological assistance, and a greater understanding of their addiction. 

 

When a person struggling with addiction enters a facility, they are provided with medication and exposed to different types of treatment. 

 

DeCoach’s goal is to remove barriers to basic needs while offering complete behavioral health services. The team collaborates with organizations to provide patients with secure and sober accommodation while they receive treatment. Patients in sober living have access to 24-hour support and daily living skills-building activities.

 

Individuals can benefit from evidence-based programs, including partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs. DeCoach’s Medication-Assisted Treatment approach is also available to clients. Although drug dependence and addiction can destroy lives, there is hope. It can be beaten with early intervention and treatment.

 

Mental Health & Addiction Treatment Services Available in Cincinnati, Fairfield, Hamilton, Xenia, and Fairborn Ohio!

 

Should you, or a loved one, have questions about medication-assisted treatment or are ready to take the first step towards recovery, reach out to the team at DeCoach Rehabilitation Centre for more information.

Call our offices to speak with a member of our team or reach out to us online today!

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