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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Effects of Addiction on Your Body

In addition to affecting the quality of our relationships, emotional processing, moods, judgment, learning, decision making, and memory, addiction has a hugely detrimental effect on our bodies. 

Whether it’s dealing with a hangover after a night out, or the drowsiness that accompanies pain medication, it’s clear on the most basic level that using alcohol and other drugs takes a physical toll on our bodies. Even when taken as prescribed, there is no substance without consequence. This is true not just in the short-term, but also over time with long-term use. 

Different drugs have different effects on the body, some more damaging than others. As we can see with the opioid crisis many people are overdosing due to a complete shutdown of the body. Our bodies can only handle so much before they eventually give up. Understanding the impact of drugs on our body can help us to manage this risk and hopefully protect ourselves from long term harm.

Addiction in the Body 

There are several short-term and long-term effects of drugs on the body. These effects depend on the type of drugs, how the drugs are used, how much is taken, how long the drug is used and the person's health, and additional factors.

Over time drugs can harm the vital systems in the body that can result in health issues such as heart disease, cancer, lung disease, liver function, mental health disorders, infectious diseases, and even death. We are not made to consume so many substances that are often toxic to us.

Brain Changes

Introducing drugs into the body impacts the way the brain’s neurons send, receive, and process signals via their neurotransmitters. Some drugs mimic the brain's own chemical processes by attaching to and stimulating particular neurons—such as those involved in the brain’s dopamine or “reward” circuit— but they do not do so in the same way our body would naturally. 

This unnatural activation can result in abnormal messages being sent through the system, and ultimately the brain’s confusion about whether or not to continue producing those neurotransmitters naturally. This results in impaired cognitive functions, impaired memory and learning, and changes in brain connections, and brain cell death.

Cardiovascular system

Most substances create some sort of negative effect on the heart, ranging from increased heart rate to full-on heart attacks.

Stimulants in particular, such as cocaine or amphetamines are very hard on the heart. This includes an increased risk of stroke, inflammation of the heart muscle, as well as deterioration of the ability of the heart to contract, and aortic ruptures. Long term stimulant use can cause heart disease and failure. Intravenous heroin or opioid use over time can also result in the veins collapsing which can lead to an infection in the blood vessels of the heart.

Kidney Damage

Each substance you ingest passes through your kidneys. Many of the damage the kidneys and contribute to kidney failure which can be life-threatening. Some other specific concerns include dehydration, dangerous increases in body temperature, and muscle breakdown.

Liver Damage

Many drugs also affect the way the liver functions and can cause damage to this important member of our exocrine system whose main role is to help filter out toxins. Symptoms of liver harm do often not show until there has been serious damage. Often the damage is more severe when drugs are combined with alcohol. In some cases, one’s liver will eventually give out liver failure which can be life-threatening.


Over time drugs can cause damage to the stomach and intestinal lining. This often results in increased vulnerability to serious concerns like ulcers, gangrene, or internal hemorrhaging. Even casual users will likely experience dehydration from a combination of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which also indicates a weakened immune system. 

Physical Recovery from Substances

While drugs can trigger lasting changes in the brain and body, there is still hope. Neuroplasticity makes it possible for the brain to recover and adapt to functioning without the presence of drugs in your system. This process begins with detox and is built upon a foundation of developing healthy practices. 

The Pines Detox Program at The Haven

The goal of The Pines detox residence is to stabilize your physical health, cleanse your body of toxins, and lay the groundwork for long-term sobriety success. The road ahead of you will no doubt be difficult, but supervised detox provides the support, resources, and camaraderie you need to pursue a motivated, fruitful recovery.

As you rid your body of addiction-related substances, you may experience side effects that require holistic or pharmaceutical intervention. Trust our team to safeguard your health, manage withdrawal symptoms, and provide compassionate care when you are at your most vulnerable.  Staffed by a trained team who sets you at ease and provides round-the-clock assistance, our detox program cleanses your mind and body and prepares you for the committed pursuit of sobriety. 

Reach out to us today to begin your recovery process.  Call now: 805.202.3440.