Substance use disorders are associated with a wide range of both short-term and long-term health effects. The effects of drug abuse can be far-reaching and impact almost every organ in the human body. Is getting admitted into a drug detox center and then going through a comprehensive addiction treatment program enough to negate the typical side effects of drug abuse?
Drugs are chemicals that affect both the body and the brain. Different drugs can have various effects, including health consequences that can be long-lasting or even permanent. Some of these consequences may continue to trouble a person after overcoming their addiction and starting a life of recovery. However, it is true that a person’s lifespan and quality of life increase when they overcome addiction.
Side Effects of Drug Abuse
Some effects of drug addiction are short-term and may stop occurring when you keep yourself sober, such as the following:
- A weakened immune system which increases the risk of infection and illness
- Heart conditions–such as abnormal heart rates, blood vessel infections, collapsed veins, and heart attacks
- Increased strain on the liver–which can lead to significant liver damage or liver failure
- Lung disease
- Nausea and abdominal pain, which can also lead to changes in appetite and weight loss
- Problems with memory, attention, and decision-making
- Seizures, stroke, mental confusion, and brain damage
All of these side effects may stop arising after detox, even if you don’t get further drug addiction treatment. However, some global effects of drugs on the body, such as breast development in men and an overall increase in body temperature, may take time before they disappear entirely. Other long-term effects of drug abuse may also become permanent, depending on how long you’ve been abusing your addictive substance of choice.
The most severe health consequence of drug abuse is death. If not for anything else, this fact should be enough to motivate even the most stubborn people with substance use disorders to seek professional help.
Long-Term Effects of Drug Abuse
Alcohol and drug abuse can have long-term effects on the brain that disrupt its communication pathways. These disruptions can influence a person’s mood, behavior, and other cognitive functions. Addiction treatment therapies and other forms of similar care may help people correct problems that arise with long-term effects of drug abuse, such as brain pathway disruptions.
Brain damage may also occur through addiction-induced nutrition deficiencies, seizures, and liver disease. In pregnant women, exposure to addictive substances can impact the brains of unborn babies resulting in conditions such as fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. Abstinence from addictive substances and living sober for months or years can’t fix the latter, but it can help to partially repair cognitive problems of people in recovery, like the deterioration of their memory skills.
These effects of drug abuse also have serious consequences that aren’t health-related — such as missed work, punishable legal offenses, damaged relationships, or accidents that hurt other people.
Finding a Drug Addiction Treatment Program
It’s essential to get a person with a substance use disorder admitted into detox and then into a drug addiction treatment program.
As with any health concern, you’ll want therapy and other outpatient treatment services to be administered by appropriately certified, licensed, and trained medical professionals. Accredited facilities have undergone evaluation by a respected third-party organization. Official approval from the Joint Commission on Accreditation for Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehab Facilities (CARF) are generally good signs that a treatment facility operates with the highest standards.
Ask the addiction treatment facility if they accept your preferred payment method. Make sure that they offer the forms of care that are essential to you. For example, if you think you require MAT, ask about its availability.
It may be a good idea to ask about the programs they offer, so you have an idea of what they may recommend after you’re evaluated. Do they have outpatient and inpatient programs? How about gender-specific or age-specific ones? Can they handle clients with a dual diagnosis?
Finally, ask them about their aftercare planning. Do they have an alumni program? Do they set up follow-up appointments for clients after the formal program ends? You must ask about every single important thing before you make your decision; after all, addiction recovery is the start of a whole new and improved part of your life.