The Impact of Addiction on Health and Well-Being

Learn about the physical & mental health effects of addiction & how it can lead to serious consequences such as organ damage & overdose.

The Impact of Addiction on Health and Well-Being

Addiction can have a devastating effect on an individual's physical and mental health, as well as their relationships, finances, and work. People with addiction often suffer from one or more associated health problems, such as lung or heart disease, stroke, cancer, or mental health conditions. Imaging scans, chest x-rays, and blood tests can reveal the damaging effects of long-term drug use on the body. The most serious consequence of drug abuse is death; in the past 12 months, 212,000 people 12 years of age and older have used heroin for the first time, and every day more than 90 Americans die from opioid overdoses.

Taking a substance regularly can also cause physical harm depending on the type of medication; some substances cause withdrawal symptoms that include tremors, sweating, or nausea. The effects of addiction are far-reaching. As an individual becomes more obsessed with a particular activity or substance, they will begin to neglect family members, responsibilities at home or work, and even personal hygiene. Addiction can cause physical and mental suffering such as depression, paranoia and anxiety. Short-term effects of drug abuse and addiction include changes in appetite, movement, speech, mood, and cognitive function.

Long-term effects can include significant organ damage, cognitive impairment, memory loss, overdose, and death. In some cases, the addict's social circle may shrink to the point where they continue to abuse substances individually with very little human contact in the environment. This can lead to loneliness and mental health conditions such as depression or social anxiety. The worst case scenario is that the lonely person is at risk of suicide and may purposely try to overdose.