A Detailed Look at the Side Effects of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a serious issue that can affect your health. Some drugs can be addictive1, depending on the type you’re taking. 

If you’re struggling with substance use disorder or addiction, knowing the possible side effects is essential. You may not realize how much they affect your physical and mental well-being 2until it’s too late.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at some of the most common side effects of abusing illegal drugs,3 like cocaine and heroin, and prescription drugs, such as opioids and benzodiazepines. By learning what these substances do to your body over time while they’re being used, you’ll better understand why they are so dangerous and hopefully make a change if you need help getting sober.

Substance Abuse is a Widespread Problem

Substance abuse is an issue for people in nearly every state, country, and community. It’s particularly prevalent among families with children who have mental health or behavioral disorders. 

Substance abuse in Massachusetts is incredibly high, with one of the highest rates of drug overdose mortality in the country, and statistics show that it’s getting worse.

Different Drugs have Different Side Effects

One of the reasons that people abuse drugs is to achieve a high. Drugs that are more addictive and dangerous can often lead to severe physical and mental issues, but some drugs are more likely to be abused than others. In addition, some drugs may not cause side effects when used alone but can cause severe complications if mixed with other substances, especially alcohol.

It’s essential for anyone considering using any substance to know what side effects their body might experience to make a more informed decision about whether it’s right for them.

Physical Symptoms

Physical symptoms are a part of the body’s inability to cope with the abuse or withdrawal from drugs or alcohol. Physical symptoms can be debilitating and vary depending on the type of substance. The severity of physical symptoms will depend on your health history, age, genetics, and other unique factors.

Physical symptoms typically occur during acute and chronic drug use, ranging from nausea and vomiting to blurred vision and loss of consciousness.

Cognitive Symptoms

Cognitive symptoms are one of the most common side effects of substance abuse4. In their simplest form, they can be defined as disrupting how your brain works and processes information.

Cognitive symptoms may include:

  • Confusion 
  • Memory loss  
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Inability to focus on conversations 
  • Disorientation

Emotional Symptoms

Emotional symptoms of substance abuse5 can include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Stress and irritability

Social Symptoms

Social symptoms can include:

  • Loss of friends
  • Inability to hold down a job
  • Inability to make plans
  • Inability to go to school
  • Inability to care for children or other family members

People abusing drugs may also find that they can’t care for their own needs, such as eating and sleeping well. In addition, they may start making unhealthy decisions to get more drugs or alcohol. They might steal, lie about their actions, or put themselves and others in danger by driving under the influence.

Substance Abuse Can Affect Your Whole Self

Substance abuse can cause physical, mental, and emotional problems that affect your whole life. Substance abusers are often unable to manage their lives because of the addictions they suffer from, leading to problems at work and in family relationships. 

Substance abuse can also lead to social isolation, which means people will stop attending work functions or even seeing friends. This can result in a loss of confidence in one’s social skills and increased feelings of loneliness and depression.

Staying Safe and Getting Help

As you can see, the side effects from substance use and abuse can range from physical to emotional and cognitive issues. If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s essential to seek treatment right away.

  1. Friedman, Herman, Susan Pross, and Thomas W. Klein. “Addictive drugs and their relationship with infectious deseases.” FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology 47.3 (2006): 330-342. ↩︎
  2. Fox, Kenneth R. “The influence of physical activity on mental well-being.” Public health nutrition 2.3a (1999): 411-418. ↩︎
  3. de Oliveira Penido, Ciro Augusto Fernandes, et al. “Raman spectroscopy in forensic analysis: identification of cocaine and other illegal drugs of abuse.” Journal of Raman Spectroscopy 47.1 (2016): 28-38. ↩︎
  4. Swartz, Marvin S., et al. “Violence and severe mental illness: the effects of substance abuse and nonadherence to medication.” American journal of psychiatry 155.2 (1998): 226-231. ↩︎
  5. Rhemtulla, Mijke, et al. “Network analysis of substance abuse and dependence symptoms.” Drug and alcohol dependence 161 (2016): 230-237. ↩︎

Last Updated on by ayeshayusuf

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Icy Health Editorial Team

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