Addiction to a drug can negatively affect a person’s quality of life in several ways. First of all, there is the chemical side. All drugs have some kind of negative effect on the body’s chemistry. Next, there is the social aspect. Drug use tends to damage a person’s social connections and network. Finally, there is the financial aspect. Reliance on a drug is severely disruptive to a person’s financial status. Treating drug addiction in an inpatient setting can alleviate these effects.
The addictive nature of drugs, paired with an effect called tolerance, is at the root of the biological consequences of drug use. Tolerance is the effect of the body building a resistance to a given drug. The longer a person uses the drug, the more tolerant their body becomes. This means that to feel the effects of the drug, the person needs to take progressively larger and larger doses. At the doses when people first begin to take a drug, the effects on the body are generally not harmful enough to be lethal. However, after a significant amount of time passes, the addict needs to take larger doses to achieve the results they want. The larger doses pose a significant threat to the body’s function. Like any other chemical, taking too much at one time can have potentially lethal effects on the heart and other organs. This means that the longer a person takes drugs, the larger the risk of an accidental lethal overdose. Aside from the risk of overdose, the increased use of the drug over time takes a toll on the organs. Depending on the drug category and specific ingredients, a drug can damage the heart, alter brain chemistry, and damage the liver and kidneys. This is not the result of overdose, but of simply forcing the body to absorb the drug over and over again.
Drug addicts have a tendency to drive away their friends. Drug addiction causes people to do things that they would normally avoid, like asking their friends for large amounts of money or requesting friends to lie and cover for them. The drug addict uses their friends to further their addiction. Few people will be happy being friends and accomplices with a drug addict for fear they might get in legal trouble, become annoyed, or be upset that they cannot help their friend overcome their addiction. As a result, the drug addict can push away old friends and will find it difficult to make new ones. It is often possible for addicts to create a new social network centered around drug use to find associates who consume the same or similar drugs. This is a dangerous step. Friendships based on substance abuse are not true friendships, and friends found in this way might turn on each other for the sake of the drug. They also will not help each other attempt to stop taking the substance. The drug addict needs friends who can help them out of the addiction, but they wind up with friends who only reinforce the addiction instead. This deadly cycle can accelerate an addict’s decline.
Drugs are expensive. This is due to how difficult they are to produce and the fact that they are legally restricted substances. The effect of tolerance means that drug addicts need larger doses over time which requires spending more and more money on the drug. However, the social and biological effects make it harder for addicts to have money. Addicts may lose friends, families, and jobs, leaving them without income or a support network. This leaves them with few alternatives to obtain the money they need for their addiction. Many turn to theft, prostitution, or similar means to get enough money for their substance. Being a drug addict makes it hard to hold down a job as many employers test for drug use, and significant drug use is difficult to conceal, especially at work. The problem of cash flow also means that drug addicts have difficulty maintaining permanent residence. They could lose their homes or apartments due to lack of funds. Being on the streets makes it even harder to find a job or get help.
Each of these factors alone is significant, but when combined they can be very dangerous. A drug addict with health problems needs medical care, but being without a job or friends makes that care hard to obtain. The addict starts to lose the things they need for safe recovery just as their health problems start to become worse. The social, biological, and financial aspects of the consequences of drug use feed into each other and accelerate each other, so that the user is more and more in need of money, medical care, and social support as they become more addicted and less able to obtain those things. It is a slippery slope and the deeper an addict gets into addiction, the harder it is to break free.
Care and Recovery
These problems are not insurmountable. Drug use is not a death sentence. The best way to break an addiction is through an inpatient treatment center. This can separate the addict from the substance in a safe and monitored environment. Trying to break an addiction without supervision can be very dangerous. Withdrawing from a drug that a person has been abusing for a long time can have harmful and potentially lethal side effects. This varies based on the drug, the length of the addiction, and the person. The bottom line is that experienced supervision is necessary to prevent harm. If you or someone you know may be experiencing drug abuse, please seek help from an experienced professional.