Learning About 10 Effects of Drug Abuse
Addiction has a way of enticing us into its arms. People become addicted for a myriad of reasons, but they all begin with a desire to change the way we feel. Whether we are trying to escape boredom, fear or pain, the drug promises a momentary respite from the feelings we don’t want to have. In this article, Promises Brazos Valley will explore 10 effects of drug abuse to help bring consequences into focus and uncover reasons for hope and access to substance abuse help.
Most of us are wise enough to know it will come at a price, but because drugs affect perception, our reason becomes compromised as we begin to use them. This is the sticky trap of addiction. Addiction is a disease of the mind. Drugs hijack the brain’s reward mechanism and use it to reinforce negative behaviors. Therefore, we can’t rely on our minds and will alone for a solution. All the knowledge in the world isn’t enough by itself to fix addiction; it requires action and willingness. But understanding these 10 effects of drug abuse can be helpful in several ways.
Knowing these 10 effects of drug abuse can help you:
- Recognize the possible signs of drug abuse in a loved one.
- Help you stop escalating drug abuse before you lose all control.
- Begin to formulate a plan to help yourself or someone else.
- Empower you to repair the damage addiction can cause.
Here are 10 effects of drug abuse we have identified and a brief explanation for each. Our intention is that you will have a better understanding of the pitfalls and signs of a substance use disorder and a reason for hope and a direction to move in for help.
Addiction quickly becomes a lifestyle. An addicted person dedicates more and more of their attention to getting drugs, finding ways to use and concealing their use from others. All of these behaviors separate us from anyone not participating in our addiction, enabling it or at least in denial or willing to look the other way. One of the first goals in getting substance abuse help is to break through that wall of isolation. Knowing they don’t have to fight the battle alone comes as a relief to almost anyone caught up in the throes of active addiction.
If you find yourself tangled up in addiction, challenge yourself to break that isolation. Tell the truth about what’s happening to someone you can trust. If you see someone you care about isolating and suspect they may need substance abuse help, give them a sign that you’re a safe place. You are willing to listen without judgment and help if you can.
Getting stuck in our emotional development is another of the 10 effects of drug abuse. Drug use dulls the senses. In trying to escape uncomfortable things, we also miss many growth opportunities. The mechanisms that help us learn from mistakes also fail to work properly when under the influence. You will sometimes hear people in 12-step fellowships say that their emotional growth seemed to stop at the age when they began using, and there is certainly some truth to that. One of the greatest blessings of recovery is the growth we begin to experience as the fog clears.
Relationships with family, friends and romantic partners can be challenging even in the best of times and when we’re completely sober. Introducing drugs and alcohol into the equation can only make things worse. We’re more apt to fight and argue when we are irritable and not feeling right. The obliteration of our senses can make us less empathetic and aware of the needs of others. The choices we make while using and the lies we may tell can also cause deep psychic wounds to the people we love. One of the greatest gifts of recovery is that we get an opportunity to repair this damage. There are no guarantees, but recovery is about hope, and some miraculous things are bound to happen if you stick to it with determination.
Let’s face it. A drug habit can get expensive fast. If alcohol is your substance of choice, it’s easy to run up a hefty bar tab quickly. Illegal drugs come with the built-in black-market tax associated with any illicit goods. On top of that, drinking and using tend to lower our inhibitions. Impulse purchases and financial irresponsibility are common before someone receives the substance abuse help they need. Money trouble leads to stress and anxiety. Combined with the relentless desire to get high and stay high, it’s a formula for more bad decisions and risk-taking. Money trouble is almost always among the 10 effects of drug abuse that people experience when addiction takes hold.
One of these 10 effects of drug abuse people are most familiar with is the impact on physical health. Alcohol is hard on the vital organs, especially the liver and stomach. Stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine can cause permanent heart damage and stroke. Opioids, including heroin and prescription opioids, create long-term imbalances in neurons and hormonal systems and damage the brain’s vital white matter.
There is simply no way to abuse drugs for long without physical consequences. No number of vitamins or amount of healthy eating or exercise will offset it. With time and patience, we recover in both mind and body, but we should never minimize the serious impact addiction can have on human health.
Depression and Anxiety
Using drugs or alcohol frequently brings about depression and anxiety. There are two main reasons for this. First, the biochemical effects of drugs of abuse themselves often trigger depression and anxiety either when using the drug or as its effects begin to subside and withdrawal sets in. Secondly, the choices that drug abuse entails also lead to depression and anxiety. No one can live a dishonest, duplicitous life for long without becoming depressed and fearful. We aren’t built to live that way. The good news is we don’t have to! Help is available; all we need to do is ask.
Provoking Existing Mental Health Conditions
Many people are aware that depression and anxiety are among the 10 effects of drug abuse. But did you know that using drugs also frequently triggers existing mental health disorders? Someone with a predisposition to psychotic episodes may have never experienced one until they begin abusing drugs. If you have a mental health issue, diagnosed or otherwise, drug abuse can only worsen the symptoms.
A Criminal Record
Buying and using drugs greatly increases your odds of ending up with a permanent criminal record. Ask anyone with a history of felonies, and they will tell you that has a profound effect on your future. If you are lucky enough to get sober with a felony criminal record, you may still pay the price of using for the rest of your life. There is always a way forward, regardless of the consequences we face in addiction. As long as you’re alive, there is hope. Remember that every day that we continue on the path of addiction, we risk our present and our future. Don’t forget the rule of holes. When you find yourself in one, the first thing to do is stop digging.
Lost dreams are possibly the most tragic and often overlooked of the 10 effects of drug abuse. If you are around other people who use drugs, you know all about it. How many of those people talk about their big dreams and ambitions? About what they are going to do “one day”? How many of them ever do any of it? Drug abuse steals our dreams and stifles our potential. It snuffs out your candlelight. That may sound like a sentimental cliché, but anyone who has spent any time in addiction will know it rings true if they are capable of being honest with themselves. You don’t have to let drugs steal any more from you, though. All it takes is enough willingness to ask for help.
Finally, there is the grim reality of death. Whether we like it or not, drug abuse increases our chances of dying, whether it’s the risk of a fatal overdose, a car accident, or being shot and killed trying to score, using increases your risk of imminent death. Period. There is no sense in trying to sugarcoat it. Buying and using drugs nearly always means taking unnecessary risks. It also means being around other people who take risks. No matter how safe and sensible you think you are in your drug use, you can’t control what others do around you. You may just get caught in the crossfire, figuratively or literally.
Get the Help You Deserve
In outlining the 10 effects of drug abuse above, we’ve given you some food for thought. It’s important to understand the consequences of drug addiction. But it is just as important to know that millions of people recover from substance use disorders every year. The reason for hope is immeasurable. When caught in a cycle of addiction, it’s easy to feel like there is no way out— but understand that this is an illusion.
If you are living with addiction and reading these words right now—know that you can change direction right now. Today. All it takes is a phone call. You’ve got nothing to lose except your misery. Please contact Promises Brazos Valley at 800-393-0391.
If someone you love needs substance abuse help, we are here. Many of us are in recovery ourselves, and all of us have had addiction touch our lives in some way. Wherever you find yourself, we understand, and we can help.