Substance abuse: Understand the effects on your body

Problems with substance abuse

Substance abuse is a common practice for ages. It should come as no surprise that these substances can have negative effects on your life. Although sometimes it may be difficult to imagine, the abuse of these substances can change everything from your body to your bank account.

reasons to stop substance abuse

Overdose of substances such as heroin, marijuana, or even prescription pain medicines can kill you. But even if you don’t take a lethal dose, your health is at risk. Some harmful effects occur with prolonged use over time, but others occur after just one smoke, snort or shot.

There are a few ways a person can take substances either by injection, inhalation or ingestion. The effects of these substances on the body can depend on how it is delivered. For example, the injection of cocaine directly into the bloodstream has an immediate impact, while sniffing has a delayed effect.

The fact is, that while it may seem that drugs are making you feel better, they’re actually causing long-term damage, and you’re likely better off without it.

Effects of substance abuse on your body

Substance abuse causes long-term changes to the brain. It makes quitting so difficult and that take years to change back to normal. Indirect long-term effects of drug addiction include broken relationships, legal problems, financial problems, injuries, and poor overall health.

So before you reach for that bottle, syringe or that pipe, don’t forget about these harmful effects of alcohol and drugs.

Cardiovascular system

Effects to your heart and blood vessels can be as mild as a rapid heartbeat or as serious as a heart attack. Stimulants like cocaine are particularly hard on the heart. This causes damage every time they are used. Substance abuse can lead to long-term heart disease such as heart failure. Injectable drugs like heroin can cause veins to collapse and even infections in blood vessels or the heart.

Respiratory system

The most obvious damage to your airways and lungs comes from drugs you breathe in. Substances such as marijuana, tobacco and inhalants. Snorting heroin or cocaine also breaks down your tissues in your nose. Over time, you can develop holes in the tissue that separates your nose.  In addition, marijuana can cause you trouble catching your breath. Substances that you breath in together with depressants like heroin and painkillers can actually slow your system to the very point you stop breathing.

Your kidneys

Substances such as cocaine and heroin can directly damage your kidneys. These organs can be so severely affected such that you need dialysis or a kidney transplant. Other hard drugs can also contribute to kidney failure in less direct ways. This can be due to increased body temperature, breakdown of muscle tissue, and dehydration. When your kidneys attempt to filter these substances out, they wind up damaged and can fail completely.

Your muscles and bones

Abuse of anabolic steroid when you are young can actually slow the development of your skeleton. This can make you to be shorter than you should be. Substance abuse can cause muscle cramping and weakness. And these substances can cause severe tremors that could be permanent.

Your gastrointestinal system

Hard drugs such as cocaine, heroin, painkillers can upset your stomach. This can cause nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Any drug taken through the nose has the potential to lead to trouble swallowing. And heroin, no matter how it’s ingested, often causes constipation.

Your liver

Similar to your kidneys, your liver helps remove harmful waste products from your body. Substances like inhalants overwork the liver to the point where it may malfunction or even fail. Substance abuse can increase your risk of suffering viral hepatitis. Eventually it leads to liver damage and failure. Steroid use can contribute to liver cancer.

About felclinic 593 Articles
Felix Ntifo is a Registered General Nurse who has so much passion to improve health care delivery. He founded FelClinic with the hope of making health information accessible to everyone who may not come in contact with him personally. "At we are very passionate about health and well-being of everyone. Our team is made up of professional doctors, nurses, midwives and lab technicians."

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