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young child slumped against wall illustrating long term psychological and physical effects of drug abuse

Long-term Psychological and Physical Effects of Drug Abuse

Chronic drug abuse can have long-term psychological and physical effects on the human body. Even if the recovering addict has stopped using drugs, the potential for long-term effects remains. Whether the body and brain can recover completely will depend on factors such as the age of the user, the time span of the drug abuse, the health of the individual (including predisposition to certain diseases), attending the proper addiction treatment center and other lifestyle factors (such as exercise, diet, etc.).

Long-term psychological effects of drug abuse

Prolonged drug use can bring on several psychological and emotional disorders. The symptoms of these disorders can be mild, moderate or severe. There is no way to predict how much they will affect the person’s life. The following conditions are common:

  1. Depression: Severe feelings of guilt over their addiction can bring on depression. Long-term abuse of drugs which affect chemicals in the brain such as dopamine can cause an imbalance resulting in depression.
  2. Anxiety: Withdrawal and fear of relapse can bring on bouts of anxiety.
  3. Paranoia: Many drug users report overwhelming feelings of paranoia due to the altered state of mind the drugs induce. Over time, paranoia can increase to the point that the user begins to act irrationally.

Long-term physical effects of drug abuse

Chronic drug abuse takes a severe toll on the body. The severity of these effects will depend on the factors mentioned above as well as the nature of the drugs the person abuses. The following organs are most at risk from constant drug use:

  1. The kidneys: Because the kidneys extract waste from the blood and balance fluids in the body, they will be directly affected by drug abuse. Over the long term, kidney damage can be so severe that dialysis and eventually a transplant will be needed.
  2. The heart: A lot of drugs that users abuse either elevate the heartbeat or cause it to slow down. This continued interference with the heart’s normal functioning can cause damage in the long-term. As a result, the user may suffer a heart attack or develop other cardiac diseases. Where the user administers drugs with a needle there is the risk of exposing the body and especially the heart to a bacterial infection which if left untreated can be fatal.
  3. The lungs: These organs are particularly vulnerable and affected by drugs that are smoked or inhaled. Smoking or inhaling drugs causes deposits of these drugs to be left in the lungs. This will affect the lungs’ ability to provide oxygen to the rest of the body.
  4. The liver: The function of the liver is to detoxify chemicals and metabolize drugs. It, therefore, makes sense that chronic drug users are putting their livers at risk.  By putting more drugs into the body, the liver receives more demand.  Overwork of the liver can reduce its normal lifespan. Over a period of time liver disease such as cirrhosis can result from drug abuse.

For more information about addiction treatments, call Vogue Recovery Center at (866) 682-8449.