Drug and Alcohol

7 Ways Substance Abuse Harms Your Health

Substance abuse results in serious health consequences. Here’s 7 ways substance abuse harms the body … and #3 is one you want to avoid.

7 Ways Substance Abuse Harms Your Health

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

November 8, 2022

The Forge Recovery Center

Substance abuse can have significant negative effects on your overall health and wellness. Taking care of your body is important, and one way to improve your health is to avoid or stop using substances.

What Kinds of Substance Abuse Harms Your Health the Most?

The type and severity of health concerns caused by substance abuse are determined by several factors. 

One of the most impactful factors that determine what consequences will result from substance abuse is the number of different substances that are being used at once. If an individual is combining substances and using them simultaneously, it's likely they will experience more serious health impacts.

Another factor that can impact health is how often a person engages in substance abuse. If an individual is using substances regularly, they’re much more likely to have negative effects than someone who tried a substance once. Unfortunately, the addictive nature of substances means that most people who try them will end up using them multiple times. This can present significant health problems.

Additionally, it explains why experimenting with different substances even one time can lead to the development of addiction. 

Another factor that can impact health is how old the individual was when they began using substances. Using substances in the teen years can present a variety of neurological concerns as the brain hasn’t fully developed. People who use substances at a younger age are more likely to develop negative effects. These effects can include severe brain changes.

7 Health Impacts That Can Be Caused by Substance Abuse

Let’s go over some of the health impacts that substances can have. It’s important to note that not everyone who uses substances will develop these symptoms. However, by engaging in substance abuse, you increase your risk of developing these issues in the future.

If you think your health is being harmed by substance abuse, consider reaching out to a professional and asking for support.

1. Lung Disease

The lungs are a common area of concern for people who use substances, especially those who smoke. Vapes  as well as traditional cigarettes can greatly impact the lungs.

Smoking substances means introducing various chemicals to the lung tissue. This can cause lung disease or injury and may put the individual at higher risk for cancer. If you smoke regularly and are experiencing shortness of breath or chest pain, your lungs may be suffering.

Consider reaching out to a doctor to check the state of your lungs.

2. Decreased Brain Capability

It’s no secret that substances can have a negative impact on the brain. Cannabis is known for reducing memory, but it’s not the only substance that does that. Other substances reduce neurological functioning and can impact the individual’s ability to think critically and make decisions. Did you know that some substances reduce neurons in various parts of the brain? This is another reason why it’s best for your brain to abstain from substances.

3. Infections

Using substances can weaken the immune system and put individuals in environments where they are more likely to contract an infection. HIV is one of the top concerns for those who are injecting substances and sharing equipment. The best way to avoid a possible infection is to cease substance use altogether.

4. Liver Damage

Substances can have a lasting impact on the liver. This damage can reduce liver function, impacting other health areas. Taking care of your liver is important, and the best way to protect its long-term health is to not use substances.

5. Heart Disease

There are multiple ways that substances can negatively impact heart health. Exposing your heart to various substances can be harmful to the tissue and reduce its functioning. It’s important for your heart to be able to work at its full capacity and using substances can reduce that. Substances can also impact heart rate.

There are a few different things that you can do to encourage heart health. Consider speaking with your doctor about what the best steps are.

6. Digestive System Issues

While it’s not the most obvious health consequence of substance use, damage to the gastrointestinal system can also result from alcohol and drug use. For example, alcohol can weaken the stomach lining and impact the digestive tract. Some substances can cause the development of holes throughout the digestive system. This could potentially be life-threatening.

If you’re experiencing digestive problems as a result of substance use, consider speaking with a medical professional about possible options.

7. Unbalanced Hormones

Some substances impact the hormone levels within the body. This can have very broad effects, as hormones play a central role in many bodily functions. If substances have impacted your endocrine system, you may struggle with fertility or sexual dysfunction.

Making sure that your hormones are in a healthy, regulated stage is important for increasing overall wellness. Chronic substance use is likely to impact your endocrine system and present a variety of problems.

Seeking Help for Substance Abuse at The Forge Recovery Center

Substance abuse can present serious health concerns. Knowing the effects that substance abuse can have on your health is important so that you can make informed choices about your substance use.

The Forge Recovery Center understands the impacts that substance abuse has. We work with our clients to help them through their journey toward sobriety. One phone call can be your first step towards improved health and freedom from addiction.

If you’re ready to learn more about our services, give us a call. We are eager to help people who are ready to invest in their sobriety and achieve wellness in all areas of their lives.

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