Physical and Psychological Effects of Substance Abuse

Effects of Substance Abuse

The U.S. Government reports that approximately 15 million Americans currently use illicit drugs and about 20,000 deaths occur annually from chronic drug abuse and addiction, such as accidental overdoses and suicides. In addition, about 25 percent of emergency room visits are the result of misuse of prescription drugs or the use of illegal substances. According to a recent Mayo Clinic study, over 16 million adults in the U.S. between the ages of 18 and 60 admitted to using an illegal drug at least once.

There is a wide range of side effects from substance abuse, and these may manifest in a psychological or physical way. Below are some of the negative effects of drug abuse and warning signs that an addiction is present:

Social Pattern Changes

One common sign of substance abuse noticed in essentially all drug users is a change in social behavior. For instance, an individual may begin visiting establishments he or she never patronized before. Neglecting current friends in lieu of a new social circle may also be a red flag. One may also begin staying out all night, even if he or she was usually in bed by 11:00 pm.

Sudden Need for Money

Another classic sign of possible drug addiction is the sudden need for excessive amounts of money. This frequently coincides with an endless search for ways to earn additional money. It is also not uncommon for such individuals to steal from relatives and friends.

Risky Behavior

An individual with an addiction or dependency on drugs may engage in reckless behavior, even if he or she was not formerly a risk taker. Taking foolish chances, driving while under the influence and sexual indiscretion are all examples of risky behavior that is common among those with substance abuse problems.

Erratic Moods

Those addicted to prescription medication or street drugs usually have constant mood disturbances. The person may become angry over minor issues or exhibit aggressive behavior toward friends and family members. However, the person may also appear abnormally happy when under the influence, as if he or she was in love with the entire world. Those suffering from substance abuse problems may also set impossible goals for themselves or act as if they believe they are invincible.

Relationship Deterioration

Sadly, the deterioration of interpersonal relationships is also a classic side effect of substance abuse. Such relationships may deteriorate quickly, leaving the individual’s friends, family members and acquaintances feeling as if they do not recognize the person.

Physical Symptoms

Unfortunately, there are also numerous physical effects of substance abuse. These include unexplained weight loss, abnormal sleep patterns, memory loss, jerking or twitching movements, red, bloodshot eyes and the inability to remain awake when not moving. Of course, the symptoms vary significantly from one person to the next, depending on the kind of substance to which he or she is addicted.

Benefits of Inpatient Treatment

Those struggling with substance abuse should seek inpatient treatment. Trying to deal with problems of this type independently is unwise. The majority of inpatient programs provide individual or group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and in some cases, therapy sessions that include family members. Inpatient treatment also allows patients to get away from their everyday environment, which is typically rife with temptation, as their source for drugs is usually close by. Anyone with a substance abuse problem should enroll in an inpatient treatment program as soon as possible.