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566-065 2.2 -- The Long-Term Damage of Addiction*

The Long-Term Damage of Addiction

Addiction is a chronic condition that can have chronic consequences. Substance use can affect several aspects of a person’s life depending on the substance and the person’s health history. If you recognize the signs of addiction in yourself or someone you know, reaching out for help is the first step to reaching recovery and preventing long-term effects.

Alcohol

In the United States, it’s estimated that nearly 15 million people suffer from alcohol use disorder. While alcohol is culturally common, the long-term physical and mental effects of excessive use aren’t widely known. Research done by the World Health Organization shows alcohol abuse can weaken the immune system and create high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, digestive problems, and various types of cancer. Long-term use has also been found to correlate with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. Being aware of the issues excessive drinking can cause is an important part of making wise decisions surrounding this legal and recreational drug.

Cocaine

According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, approximately 1.5 million people experience addictive behaviors around cocaine. This narcotic is often binged and used repeatedly with higher doses. Using cocaine can impair your immune system and damage your gastrointestinal tract, liver, kidneys, sinuses, heart, and brain. This damage can cause symptoms like ulcers, pain, coughing, wheezing, holes in the septum, and more. Cocaine use is also correlated with worsened depression and anxiety, increasing the likelihood of repeated and excessive use.

MDMA

In 2020, nearly 2.6 million people reportedly used MDMA, also commonly known as Ecstacy or Molly. This drug has an intense impact on the serotonin levels, impairing the brain’s ability to learn and retain memories. Usage can also cause liver and kidney damage, lead to high blood pressure, and increase the risk of stroke or a heart attack. 

With all of these effects, it is important to recognize that addiction is complex. Whether it’s one of the substances mentioned in this article or another type of addiction, living with this condition can feel consuming and leave you feeling hopeless. The good news is that treatment is available and healing is possible. Please reach out for support.

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