The short-term effects of drug abuse and addiction are well documented. If you are even somewhat well educated on the subject, it is fairly easy to spot an individual who is disassociated or behaving strangely as a result of drug use. More insidious, and indeed more serious, are the long-term effects of drug abuse and addiction. The following information is designed to shed light on both the psychological and physical ramifications of heavy drug use over a prolonged period of time.
Long Term Psychological Effects of Drug Use
Individuals who become addicted to drugs, and allow that addiction to go unchecked for a number of years, are exposing themselves to a number of potential psychological disorders, including:
- Paranoia. One of the most common psychological ailments associated with long-term addiction, the individual may begin to feel as if the “whole world is against them” or “everyone is out to get them”.
- Depression. An addicted individual will grow despondent over their condition as the years go on – feeling depressed and powerless against the very substances that used to create pleasurable feelings.
- Anxiety. In between doses of their “drug of choice” many people will become quite anxious and concerned about where they will get their next fix.
- Memory loss. Loss of memory is one of the hallmark symptoms of marijuana addiction, as the THC found in the drug impacts the brain function that controls the ability to remember things.
Physical Impact of Long Term Drug Abuse and Addiction
The list of health problems associated with long-term drug use is quite extensive. Simply put, the longer an individual lives with a drug addiction, the more their body will break down. Among the most serious physical ailments associated with chronic, long-term drug abuse are:
- Heart problems. Individuals who are addicted to heroin, cocaine or other “hard drugs” are opening themselves up to a number of different heart-related problems, including: heart failure, heart disease and heart attack.
- Kidney problems. Some drugs can lead to kidney failure in even those young people for whom such a condition would not normally be a problem.
- Liver disorders. Drugs such as Vicodin or OxyContin contain acetaminophen, an active ingredient that, when abused, can cause damage to the liver. The result is either premature liver disease or, in the most serious cases, full on liver failure.
Fighting Against Long-Term Drug Dependence
The most effective way to combat long-term drug abuse and addiction effects is through professional treatment. A drug rehab center sees individuals who have been using drugs habitually for years, and understand that treatment must be patient and comprehensive in order to be effective. These addiction treatment programs are successful because they help individual stop their drug use behavior – and show them how to maintain sobriety for the rest of their lives. There are three core components that make up these drug rehab programs: detoxification, therapy and aftercare.
- Detox. Drug detoxification is the process of allowing the body to cleanse itself of harmful toxins after years of drug abuse. During detox, the individual may experience uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that can lead to relapse. However, as long as the process takes place while the individual is in the care of treatment professionals, they can receive support and medical care until it is complete and they are deemed ready to continue on into counseling.
- Counseling. Drug addiction treatment counseling is the heart of dealing with long-term drug abuse. After all, if the individual has been abusing drugs for years, it is going to take serious therapy to change their behavior. The most common forms of addiction treatment counseling include: individual therapy, group counseling and family therapy.
- Aftercare. Aftercare programs help prepare the individual for life after rehab. Through 12-step groups (such as Narcotics Anonymous), follow-up counseling and sober living, the individual is given the support she needs to make a smooth transition back into daily life.