10 Heartbreaking Consequences of Long-Term Drug Addiction

By: Jack Lowell

*Not scientifically reviewed by Dr. Eeks or the Blooming Wellness Team

Substance abuse has been a global problem for several decades already. While several factors lead to addiction, there are effective treatment programs out there.

Rehabs in Oklahoma provide various treatment solutions for different addictions, offering individuals battling with addiction meaningful hope along their journey to recovery. It’s no secret that recovering from any addiction is exceptionally challenging, which is why choosing the right rehabilitation center is essential for your recovery or that of a loved one.

That said, whether you or a loved one is burdened with the crutches of substance addiction, these are the long-term consequences. And because most of these heartbreaking results are severe, they should serve as another reason to strive for sobriety.

There are many different substances anyone can become addicted to. Starting from something small like caffeine contained in coffee and energy drinks to more severe substances like crack and heroin. And let us not forget cigarettes and alcohol, which, although can be maintained when used in small quantities. But the main reason for when any substance (great and small) becomes an addiction is how they react to your brain. You start craving more and more for them because of the alterations in your mesolimbic dopamine pathway. Even something you take to alleviate pain due to a surgery or whatever other reason there might be can alter your reward circuit. It is advisable to learn more about opioid receptors and the brain before you start popping the prescribed medicine. Know the danger signs and how to avoid them, and always stick to the prescribed administration.

Cardiovascular Diseases

Drug abuse negatively impacts heart function, and the effects can range from abnormal heart rate to an increased risk of a heart attack. Unfortunately, this is relevant even for young adults and adolescents struggling with addiction.

The most common addictive drugs known to impact heart health include cocaine, heroin, steroids, methamphetamine, and others.


Some substances are linked to an increased risk of developing mouth, throat, lung, and stomach cancers. That said, the types of substances associated with increased cancer risk are those that are inhaled.

Gastrointestinal Effects

Several drugs out there can promote the decay of bowel tissue, cause abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and disrupt digestive function. These health impacts are all pretty unpleasant, but beyond that, gastrointestinal effects are concerning as they can develop into chronic health conditions.

Heroin, khat, and kratom are just a few drugs known to harm the digestive system substantially over time.

Neurological Impacts

Most addictive substances act in the brain to create euphoric effects. Sadly, some of these effects lead to seizures, stroke, and damage to brain cells.

Unfortunately, most addictive drugs increase the risk of developing neurological damage. And damage to the brain can negatively impact the quality of life dramatically for anyone.

Mental Health Problems

Long-term drug abuse often leads to various mental health concerns, which differ from person to person; some develop chronic depression as brain receptors that use serotonin and dopamine are starved and eventually damaged, rendering the brain unable to feel happy and content.

However, anxiety, paranoia, aggression, and hallucinations are also pretty common. As a result, drug addicts are at a high risk of developing mental health conditions ranging from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, personality disorders, and several others.

Many in recovery face the need for lifelong treatment to support mental health. This is yet another heartbreaking consequence of substance addiction that leaves a mark on the individual in recovery and their loved ones.

Increased Risk Of Contracting Infectious Diseases

It is most heartbreaking that drug addiction is often associated with behaviors such as unsafe sex, sharing needles, and other risky behaviors. Unfortunately, these behaviors increase the risk of contracting infectious diseases such as hepatitis, HIV, etc.

Heroin and cocaine are most commonly associated with this risk, although other substances can have the same negative impact on personality and decision-making.

Musculoskeletal Disorders

Substance abuse during young adult years can negatively impact musculoskeletal health due to artificially high sex hormone production. The increased levels of hormones signal bones to halt growth much earlier than they should.

This can lead to short stature, extreme muscle cramping, and widespread muscle weakness. Substances commonly associated with musculoskeletal disorders include inhalants, psilocybin, and a few others.

Respiratory Defects

The consumption of substances via smoking can lead to respiratory defects such as bronchitis, emphysema, and even lung cancer. However, cocaine is also known to damage lung tissue substantially as an inhalant.

Kidney Damage

Substances can damage the kidneys due to dehydration, muscle breakdown, and an increase in body temperature. Unfortunately, our kidneys were not created to filter out the toxins in harmful substances. Addiction can have severe impacts on kidney health as a direct result.

Heroin, ketamine, steroids, and inhalants are known to damage kidney health. And because kidney failure is a severe and potentially fatal concern, caring for the health of your kidneys by opting for recovery is the best choice you can make.

Or Worse, Death

Unfortunately, the most severe consequence of substance abuse is death. Many drugs put users at a constant risk of overdosing, which is a relevant concern even if the user has only tried the substance a few times.

Beyond overdosing, the health concerns that develop during addiction can be severe and fatal if recovery is not achieved.

That said, regardless of how long the addiction has been controlling your life or that of a family or friend, it is never too late to seek treatment and the support of your loved ones. Even though the path to recovery is a most challenging one, countless individuals have turned their lives around with the help of rehabilitation centers and the willpower to strive for a better quality of life.

Managing The Symptoms Of Withdrawal

Unfortunately, one of the most significant bumps in the road to recovery lies right at the beginning, in the form of enduring drug withdrawal. So many individuals suffering from addiction that want to journey towards a better life are held back as they aren’t able to overcome the initial withdrawal period.

What’s more, depending on the severity of the addiction, withdrawal can be severe and dangerous, often fatal if the correct medical treatment and support are not available.

Even though the symptoms of withdrawal are challenging to endure, those who make the critical decision to strive for recovery can often make it through the initial phase with ease, granted they have the proper support and medical assistance. There is no stressing the genuine importance of relying on a rehabilitation center to manage withdrawals.

So, while a rehabilitation center is often the safest choice to manage the withdrawal phase with the help of medical practitioners and dedicated staff, you should also eat healthily, get enough exercise, practice mindfulness or yoga, and reach out to your support system.


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