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Substance Abuse: The United States’ Number One Health Problem

The United States has its share of health problems. Cancer and obesity have been the most talked about in recent years. Yet, the opioid epidemic and related situations are shedding light on substance abuse.

It has gotten to the point that it has taken its place as the number one health problem in the country. Substance abuse comes with its short and long-term problems. Plus, it will also develop health issues that can be long lasting even if they do quit.

If you need help with substance abuse, you can get it as soon as possible. You can check out the details on the New Waters Recovery website. Let’s discuss more about substance abuse and the threats it can pose to a person’s health.

Substance abuse can have serious side effects

Substance abuse comes with a wide variety of side effects. Most of them are serious. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Your immune system may be depressed. This can lead to more chances of contracting illnesses and infections
  • Change in appetite and weight loss due to stomach pain and nausea
  • Issues with decision making, memory, or attention
  • Brain damage and increased confusion
  • Increased risk of stroke or heart attack
  • Blood vessel infections and collapsed veins (common with injecting drugs)

These are the most common side effects people will experience with substance abuse. They can also leave you with short or long-term issues later on. The most severe consequence is death due to overdose or complications of the health issues that stem from substance abuse.

It can cause changes in mental behavior

While it won’t directly cause mental disorders, it can exacerbate the symptoms of any underlying issues you may have. It can also increase episodes of confusion, paranoia, and other negative behaviors among others. Aside from this, a person may experience impulsiveness, losing self-control, and impared judgment among others.

You may behave in a way that has never been exhibited before. You may also find yourself missing work or school, which can have consequences such as termination or failing out. Substances will put you in a state of mind where you might not be aware of your actions.

These actions can cause injury or death to yourself or even other people around you. If there is one more good reason why substance abuse needs to be addressed, it’s these situations.

The use of drugs can rewire your brain’s reward system. Your brain will reward you with that ‘feel good’ kind of feeling. This will depend on the type of drug you use and how it communicates with the brain.

Alcohol is known to disrupt the communication pathways of the brain. Because of this, changes in behavior and mood are common. Also, cognitive functions will also be influenced negatively as well. 

It also affects the unborn

Unborn children will also be affected by substance abuse. This is if the mother is using substances on a regular basis. They contain harmful impurities that can hurt the development of the child long after they are born.

Substance abuse while pregnant can lead to low birth weight and even premature birth. A newborn can even have withdrawal symptoms to the substances, which can be serious. Birth defects and behavioral issues may also be possible when the child is older. 

This is one of the cold hard facts that substance abuse doesn’t affect only one person. It can affect family members including their children. It’s unfortunate that it has to happen.

The impact of substance abuse on a family is serious. To the point where support groups invite family members of an addict to speak out about their struggles. If you or someone you know needs to voice your struggles related to drugs and alcohol, find a support group nearest you.

It affects your most vital organs

Substance abuse, even in the long-term, will affect your most vital organs. Your liver is one of them.

This organ is responsible for naturally detoxifying your body. Your liver can get to the point where it may be too overwhelmed to perform is usual responsibilities. Most substances including alcohol and various drugs can cause liver damage.

This can lead to the development of cirrhosis, which is a fatal condition of the liver. Hepatitis is also a common liver infection that can occur as well. The liver isn’t the only vital organ to be concerned about.

Your cardiovascular health will also be at risk. Your heart and lungs will risk damage of its own. You’ll have a higher than likely chance of developing respiratory diseases including tuberculosis and pneumonia.

Your heart may deal with valve infection or damage. You’ll also face the possibility of bloodborne infections. Heart attack and stroke chances are also increased.

Substance abuse can also do damage to your kidneys. These are used to filter out toxins inside your body. Kidney damage can also be a possibility, even to the point where renal failure can occur.

When renal failure occurs, dialysis will be required. The small blood vessels located in your kidneys will also be damaged. Thus, it will speed up kidney damage to the point where failure is likely.

Finally, it can also cause neurological damage. This can include brain damage that can be permanent. You’ll have a lesser amount of focus and attention, which can make daily life difficult for you.

Final Thoughts

Substance abuse is a health problem that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. This can cause many health effects that can last a lifetime. Of course, the chance of a fatal overdose is great.

It’s important that you or someone you know should get help now rather than never. Your body may not have sustained damage. Even in recovery, it’s important to have a physical examination done to see how much damage may have been done to your body.

About the author

Jamie Moses

Jamie Moses founded Artvoice in 1990

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