Life of a drug addict

Life of a drug addict (Photo credit:

Drug abuse is rampant in today’s society. This is largely due to the pervasive availability of a wide, and ever expanding, variety of drugs. Studies have shown that part of this abuse is largely due to a person’s belief that his or her drug of choice is not causing any damage to body or mind. Even people who are aware that their drug of choice is causing them harm are often unaware of the full range of damage that is being done. It’s time to lay those naiveties to rest and explore some of the long-term health effects of commonly abused drugs.


Health Effects of Alcohol

Alcohol is easily the most commonly abused substance and has extremely damaging health effects. While it is legal, it is still a very damaging substance. A study performed by the University of North Carolina illustrated the many health effects associated with alcohol.

  • Brain Damage – Every sip of alcohol causes brain damage. Prolonged abuse can result in depression, the inability to enjoy life when sober and, eventually, lead to alcoholism. It can damage every aspect of your central nervous system and create short and long term memory loss.
  • Bodily Damage – A consistent, or semi-regular, habit of ingesting alcohol can have far reaching physical health effects. Prolonged alcohol abuse can create high blood pressure, which alone can lead to many serious health issues. Alcohol depresses your immune system, opening you up to contracting a variety of illnesses. Liver disease is a very common effect of long-term alcohol use. Alcohol taxes and harms the liver resulting in a variety of liver related diseases – including cancer.

Even though it is perhaps the most socially accepted drug, it is incredibly harmful.  Curbing a drinking habit before it becomes an addiction can help extend your life – and make for a happier existence.

Health Effects of Marijuana

In a 2012 study performed by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), it was found that marijuana is the second most commonly abused substance in the United States. Their study revealed that those who use marijuana are generally deluded into believing that it is not harmful. The NIDA study found that it is extremely harmful and can, just like alcohol, damage your brain and your body.

  • Brain Damage – Long-term marijuana users have limited brain functions. Their ability to perform complex tasks is incredibly inhibited. This can completely derail academic and intellectual pursuits. Studies have shown that marijuana increases the risk of psychosis if there is a genetic predisposition. Marijuana has also been connected with depression and anxiety.
  • Bodily Damage – Marijuana use affects the body in the same way that cigarettes do – it causes extreme damage to the lungs and airways. Marijuana users are more susceptible to chest colds, coughs and bronchitis.

Marijuana is widely accepted as a healing herb. This fact has misled many into abusing this drug, believing that it has no ill effects. While it does contain certain medicinal properties for cancer and AIDS patients, it is no miracle plant.

Health Effects of Other Drugs

Beyond marijuana and alcohol, there is a whole cornucopia of drugs that are commonly abused – each of them having their own unique long-term health effects. A 2011 study from NIDA examined the long term health effects of many other common drugs.

  • Heroin/Opium – These opiates can cause constipation, endocarditis and are heavily addictive. Due to the often-unsanitary conditions and methods of delivery, it is also possible to contract HIV and hepatitis. Heroin and opium can both result in a fatal overdose.
  • Cocaine/Meth – Members of the stimulant families can have incredibly damaging health effects. They can create unhealthy weight loss, cardiac complications, strokes, and seizures. They are also highly addictive. Cocaine can cause nasal damage from snorting, and meth can cause severe dental problems.
  • MDMA – Also known as ecstasy, this club drug can result in extreme chills, teeth clenching and muscle cramping. Long-term health risks include sleep disturbances, depression and a severely impaired memory.

Stay Clean, Seek Help

The results of research into the long term effects of commonly abused drugs found that prolonged use of any of the above substances can result in life altering, and ending, health effects. These studies show that if you are currently abusing any of the above substances, it is in your best interest to get clean. If you are unable to quit under your own willpower, there are many rehabilitation programs available that can help you avoid experiencing these long-term health effects first hand.


This article was written by Adam Watterson.  Adam has four years of experience working in drug rehab, and writes has written other articles such as “Learning to Accept Yourself” on behalf of the Narconon network.

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