Long-Term Effects of Drug Abuse - Family Medicine for America's Health (2022)

Author Dr. Matthew Ballison Published by Modified by

Drug addiction is a disease that affects 21 million people in the United States alone. 90% of these individuals never receive treatment, often experiencing the adverse long-term effects of using drugs. Addiction itself classifies as a mental illness because of the way it alters the brain. If left unchecked, it can lead to various, often debilitating mental disorders such as depression and psychosis.

The relationship between mental illness and drug abuse is an extensively covered topic. It’s observed that mental health disorders co-occur alongside drug addiction or any form of substance abuse. Drug addiction isn’t just limited to illegal drugs, as individuals can also get addicted to prescription medication such as pain killers and sleeping pills. Often, drug abused people are trying to beat drug tests, using detox shampoos, detox drinks, or detox pills. It will be helpful if you are a rare user. But it is better to know, why drug abuse is dangerous.

Contents

Effects of Drug Misuse on Mental Health

Individuals resort to substance abuse for all kinds of reasons. Nevertheless, it can negatively impact both mental and physical health. The harmful effects vary depending on the type of drug used as different substances produce distinctive consequences. The way users deliver the drugs into their bodies also produces different outcomes. For instance, drugs directly injected into the blood have a more pronounced and immediate effect than if ingested through swallowing or inhalation.

Long-Term Effects of Using Drugs

Drugs change how our brain functions, altering its conventional system of sending, receiving, and processing information. Long-term abuse can significantly impact a user’s brain for the worse. In extreme cases, it can lead to severe full-blown brain disorders.

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Some of the serious mental illnesses long-term drug abuse can trigger are:

  • Major Depression – A common mental disability characterized by pervasive feelings of sadness and low energy. It affects a person’s day-to-day functioning and is one of the leading causes of suicide.
  • Anxiety Disorders – Another common illness where the sufferer displays abnormal excessive fear or anxiety towards a theme. The feelings are more intense than normal sensations of nervousness.
  • Bipolar Disorder – is an illness that creates extreme feelings of high and low moods, often accompanied by sudden mood swings in the opposite direction. It affects a person’s thinking, behavior, and sleep patterns.
  • Psychosis – This illness can also be substance-induced. It forces the person suffering to experience thoughts and emotions that are out of place with reality.
  • Personality Disorders – This mental illness compels sufferers to think, function, and behave differently from what society deems appropriate.
  • Schizophrenia – is considered one of the most debilitating mental disorders. Individuals with schizophrenia can’t tell what’s real from imagined.

Can Drugs Cause Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a severe chronic brain disorder considered worldwide as one of the most impairing mental illnesses. Psychotic symptoms accompany this psychiatric disorder. Whenever it becomes active, it causes the sufferer to perceive reality unnaturally. While drugs do not cause this illness, they can provoke its symptoms, especially if the individual has a genetic predisposition.

Experts theorized that the culprit is the dopamine rush caused by certain substances. Drugs flood the brain of dopamine, sometimes overwhelming it. The brain shuts down receptors and decreases its dopamine production to safeguard itself from abnormal dopamine levels. This cycle can permanently alter brain functions when repeated over time, leaving it open for developing schizophrenia symptoms.

Can Drugs Make You Paranoid?

Substances like drugs and alcohol already have mind-altering properties. But the extent to which drugs can affect the brain is much more profound. There are actually drugs that make you paranoid. Recreational drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, alcohol, and amphetamines can set paranoia in motion, especially if the user already has mental health issues.

Paranoia is an intrusive irrational feeling that some drug users can experience. These feelings can be persistent, compelling the individual to think that something threatens them in some way. Paranoia is often a symptom rather than the disorder itself. It is triggered by conditions such as psychosis and schizophrenia.

Can Drugs Cause Personality Disorders?

There is a link between drug addiction and a set of mental health conditions known as personality disorders. Unhealthy thinking and behavior considered by society as out of the norm characterize these illnesses. Drug addiction doesn’t cause personality disorders, but rather vice versa. Individuals with personality disorders have a higher chance of turning to drugs or alcohol and developing substance abuse disorders.

Substance abuse disorders are prevalent among people with antisocial personality disorders (APD). In fact, 90% of APD sufferers also become dependent on substances. The strong relationship between antisocial personality disorder and substance abuse means that those affected by the condition are inclined to abuse drugs at some point or another.

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Can Drugs Make You Lose Touch With Reality?

Several drugs can trigger and worsen a brain disorder called psychosis. This serious illness makes the individuals who are suffering “lose touch with reality.” The condition is characterized by hallucinations where the person experiences something that’s not real and delusions where their minds get filled with false beliefs.

As to what drugs can cause permanent psychosis, many substances, particularly stimulants and hallucinogens, cause psychotic episodes, getting more frequent the more these users abuse these substances. Drug-induced psychosis is rarely permanent, so long as the person receives treatment.

Drugs that Can Cause Mental Health Problems

Here is a list of mental health problems and the substances that can trigger or worsen them. This list may be incomplete, but it should inform you of the most common drug-induced mental illnesses out there.

Mental IllnessSubstance Triggers
Clinical Depression
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Psychostimulants
  • Alcohol
  • Hallucinogens
  • Opioids
Anxiety Disorders
  • Alcohol
  • Psychostimulants
  • Opioids
  • Sedatives
Bipolar Disorder
  • Cannabis
  • Psychostimulants
  • Alcohol
Psychosis
  • Psychostimulants
  • Hallucinogens
  • Opioids
  • Cannabis
Schizophrenia
  • Psychostimulants
  • Hallucinogens
  • Cannabis

Source: https://www.bridgestorecovery.com/

Note: The substance classifications included in this table encompass both controlled and illegal substances. For example, illicit drugs such as cocaine and prescription drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall fall under Psychostimulants.

Can Medication Worsen Mental Illness?

Mental health medications are practical and powerful drugs used to treat a variety of conditions. However, some medications are not without side effects. Medication side effects can be physical such as muscle cramps, dizziness, and nausea. It could also be mental, such as induced depression, anxiety, and memory loss. These substance-induced side effects typically occur due to long-term medication use. They can also be triggered when the patient suddenly stops taking their prescribed drugs.

Medication can also change people’s personalities. Some medicines have become less prescribed due to their mind-altering side effects. People, who take prescription drugs often ask: “does anxiety medication change your personality?” The answer is medication does have the capacity to change one’s perspective and personality. These changes are either activated by an adverse side-effect or could be the actual desirable effect of the drug.

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Relationship Between Mental Illness and Drug Abuse

By now, you should have a good understanding of the vital link between mental illness and drug abuse. Mental illness is one of the most dangerous long-term effects of drugs. Addiction in itself is considered an illness and paired with a mental disorder; it could be life-threatening. A brain disorder that co-occurs with drug addiction can indeed spiral mental health out of control. Despite being crystal clear, the relationship between mental illness and drug use remains complex.

What Comes First: Substance Abuse or Mental Health Problems?

A common argument between experts when it comes to mental illness and drug abuse is which comes first. There is no general rule of thumb as to which precedes the other. A person can develop mental health problems as a result of substance abuse. While not all drug addicts develop a co-occurring mental illness, there are many cases where users manifest mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and other disorders from drug use. Long-term or chronic drug use can also lead to permanent changes in the brain’s structure, leading to disabilities such as schizophrenia.

It’s evident that substance abuse leads to an unhealthy mind, but it could also happen vice versa. Those with mental disorders have a significantly higher risk of turning to drugs or alcohol. Individuals suffering from painful mental disorders like anxiety and depression use substances as temporary symptom reliefs. While substances can temporarily alleviate symptoms, they further worsen the illness. Prolonged use of psychoactive drugs can cause brain damage, even though they seem to provide relief for the time being.

Why Addiction and Mental Illness Co-Occur

Mental disorders have a track record of co-existing with addiction. Millions of Americans experience this co-occurrence, but only less than 10% of sufferers get the right treatment. As was mentioned, substance abuse can permanently alter the brain. In many cases, the brain regions rewired by addiction are also the same ones that are affected by mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia. This dual impact causes comorbidities that can sometimes be challenging to treat.

Why Is It Difficult to Diagnose Both Conditions?

Substance abuse and their co-occurring mental illness often become complicated to treat since they usually share the same symptoms. Because they share common indicators, it can be hard to detect if a patient has a co-existing mental illness. This covert relationship is one of the reasons why many comorbidities related to drug use remain untreated.

For treatment to be successful, both substance abuse and its accompanying mental illness must be addressed simultaneously. Doctors who’ve gone through the proper training tailored to target such comorbidities must handle treatment.

Conclusion

If you or someone you know suffers from substance abuse or any mental illnesses, the best course of action would be to seek immediate treatment. Keep in mind that diagnosis must be accurate so that you can get the most effective treatment. The proper intervention will address and resolve an individual’s substance abuse issue along with the coinciding mental illness at the same time to ensure the quickest recovery. You can also read an article about THC detox dos and do not. It is important to convey such info because despite safe and effective methods ( macujo method) there are a lot of extremely dangerous tips.

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  • Long-Term Effects of Drug Abuse - Family Medicine for America's Health (1)

    Dr. Matthew Ballison

    Dr. Matthew Ballison is a medical expert, who works as a physician and researcher simultaneously. The points of his research papers are Addiction Medicine, how psychoactive substances affect human brains, physical withdrawal after drug renunciation, nature of different addictions from biological discourse.

    View all posts

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FAQs

What is the harmful effects of drug abuse on the family? ›

These effects on the family may include: Emotional burden. Members may feel anger, frustration, anxiety, fear, worry, depression, shame and guilt, or embarrassment. Economic burden.

What are 5 effects of drug abuse? ›

Drug Effects on Behavior
  • Paranoia.
  • Aggressiveness.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Addiction.
  • Impaired Judgement.
  • Impulsiveness.
  • Loss of Self-Control.

What are 4 consequences of drug abuse? ›

Young people who persistently abuse substances often experience an array of problems, including academic difficulties, health-related problems (including mental health), poor peer relationships, and involvement with the juvenile justice system.

What are some of the effects of drug abuse and addiction? ›

The Impact of Addiction Can Be Far-Reaching
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Stroke.
  • Cancer.
  • HIV/AIDS.
  • Hepatitis B and C.
  • Lung disease.
  • Mental disorders.
10 Jul 2020

What are the effects of drug abuse on the society? ›

Communities also suffer from the effects of drug addiction. Overall, substance abuse costs the United States more than $740 billion a year in terms of health care, work productivity and crime; of that figure, illicit drug abuse costs $193 billion and prescription opioid abuse costs another $78.5 billion.

How do drugs affect your social health? ›

Because drugs can change your behaviour, they can affect your relationships with family and friends. There is an increased risk of injury and/or assault to both yourself and other people.

What are the psychological effects of drug abuse? ›

People could experience anxiety, paranoia, depression or other conditions. Some people may use to cope with difficult emotions or experiences. Overtime they may find their relationship changes and they don't interact with the drug in the same way.

What is the main causes of drug abuse? ›

Factors such as peer pressure, physical and sexual abuse, early exposure to drugs, stress, and parental guidance can greatly affect a person's likelihood of drug use and addiction. Development. Genetic and environmental factors interact with critical developmental stages in a person's life to affect addiction risk.

What are 3 examples of drug abuse? ›

Some of the most common types of drug abuse include the following:
  • Stimulant Abuse. Stimulants are substances that cause physical and psychological functions to speed up. ...
  • Cocaine Abuse. ...
  • Adderall Abuse. ...
  • Meth Abuse. ...
  • Opioid Abuse. ...
  • Heroin Abuse. ...
  • Prescription Painkillers. ...
  • Sedative Abuse.

What are the types and effects of drugs? ›

Drugs can be categorised by the way in which they affect our bodies: depressants – slow down the function of the central nervous system. hallucinogens – affect your senses and change the way you see, hear, taste, smell or feel things. stimulants – speed up the function of the central nervous system.

What are the six causes of drug abuse? ›

Risk factors
  • Family history of addiction. Drug addiction is more common in some families and likely involves an increased risk based on genes. ...
  • Mental health disorder. ...
  • Peer pressure. ...
  • Lack of family involvement. ...
  • Early use. ...
  • Taking a highly addictive drug.
4 Oct 2022

What are the solutions to drug abuse? ›

Here are the top five ways to prevent substance abuse:
  • Understand how substance abuse develops. ...
  • Avoid Temptation and Peer Pressure. ...
  • Seek help for mental illness. ...
  • Examine the risk factors. ...
  • Keep a well-balanced life.
7 Jul 2021

What defines drug abuse? ›

The use of illegal drugs or the use of prescription or over-the-counter drugs for purposes other than those for which they are meant to be used, or in excessive amounts. Drug abuse may lead to social, physical, emotional, and job-related problems.

What are the effects of drugs to the country? ›

Moreover, absenteeism, lost productivity, and increased use of medical and insurance benefits by employees who abuse drugs affect a business financially. The economic consequences of drug abuse severely burden federal, state, and local government resources and, ultimately, the taxpayer.

What are the economic effects of drug abuse? ›

economic impact of substance misuse is $249 billion for alcohol misuse and $193 billion for illicit drug use. substance use disorder treatment saves $4 in health care costs and $7 in criminal justice costs.

How does drugs affect the brain? ›

Drugs interfere with the way neurons send, receive, and process signals via neurotransmitters. Some drugs, such as marijuana and heroin, can activate neurons because their chemical structure mimics that of a natural neurotransmitter in the body. This allows the drugs to attach onto and activate the neurons.

What are 3 social effects of drug use? ›

Drug abuse is often accompanied by a devastating social impact upon community life. The present article focuses on the adverse effect of drug abuse on industry, education and training and the family, as well as on its contribution to violence, crime, financial problems, housing problems, homelessness and vagrancy.

What are the effects of drug abuse on the community Brainly? ›

Drug abuse is often accompanied by a devastating social impact upon community life. The present article focuses on the adverse effect of drug abuse on industry, education and training and the family, as well as on its contribution to violence, crime, financial problems, housing problems, homelessness and vagrancy.

What is the main cause of drug abuse? ›

Peer pressure is a strong factor in starting to use and misuse drugs, particularly for young people. Lack of family involvement. Difficult family situations or lack of a bond with your parents or siblings may increase the risk of addiction, as can a lack of parental supervision.

How does drug abuse affect education? ›

Substance-using students, compared with non-users, are at increased risk for academic failure, including dropout, especially when the use is frequent and heavy. Marijuana use negatively impacts academic outcomes (lower GPA and higher rates of dropout) somewhat more than does alcohol.

How will you prevent yourself from using harmful drug? ›

Know your triggers
  • avoiding places where you know drugs and alcohol will be available.
  • surrounding yourself with friends who don't use drugs.
  • knowing how to resist temptation.
  • learning how to cope with stress and relax without drugs.
  • distracting yourself with activities like exercise or listening to music.
4 Mar 2020

How does drug use affect mental health? ›

If you or someone you care about is chronically using drugs or alcohol it can lead to changes in the brain, which can lead to mental health issues including paranoia, depression, anxiety, aggression, hallucinations, and other problems.

What are the effects of drug abuse on the youth? ›

The earlier young people start using drugs, the greater their chances of continuing to use them and become addicted later in life. Taking drugs when you are young can contribute to the development of adult health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders.

What are the effects of drugs to the country? ›

Moreover, absenteeism, lost productivity, and increased use of medical and insurance benefits by employees who abuse drugs affect a business financially. The economic consequences of drug abuse severely burden federal, state, and local government resources and, ultimately, the taxpayer.

What are 3 examples of drug abuse? ›

Some of the most common types of drug abuse include the following:
  • Stimulant Abuse. Stimulants are substances that cause physical and psychological functions to speed up. ...
  • Cocaine Abuse. ...
  • Adderall Abuse. ...
  • Meth Abuse. ...
  • Opioid Abuse. ...
  • Heroin Abuse. ...
  • Prescription Painkillers. ...
  • Sedative Abuse.

Which characteristic is associated with drug abuse? ›

Generally, those who use drugs or alcohol are characterized by having high Neuroticism, high Openness to Experience, low Agreeableness, and low Conscientiousness. However, there are individual personality differences between the drugs that are used.

What are the four levels of addiction? ›

There are four levels of addiction: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. We will discuss each level in-depth and provide tips for overcoming addiction. Most people who try drugs or engage in risky behaviors don't become addicted.

Why is drugs an important issue? ›

Using drugs can affect the lives of those caught up in it in ways they might not expect. It can affect health, relationships, jobs and education. Recognising whether you or someone close to you has a problem with drugs is an important first step in seeking help and treatment.

What are the causes of drug abuse among students? ›

5 Reasons Teens Start Using Drugs & Alcohol
  • Peer Pressure. ...
  • Self-Medication & Escape. ...
  • Performance Improvement. ...
  • Experimentation. ...
  • To Feel Grown Up.
8 Oct 2019

What are the causes of drug abuse among youth? ›

The earliest influences to smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs may come from the family. Factors that are related to drug use during adolescence include poor self-image, low religiosity, poor school performance, parental rejection, family dysfunction, abuse, under- or over-controlling by parents, and divorce.

What is the best solution to drug abuse and misuse? ›

Here are the top five ways to prevent substance abuse:
  • Understand how substance abuse develops. ...
  • Avoid Temptation and Peer Pressure. ...
  • Seek help for mental illness. ...
  • Examine the risk factors. ...
  • Keep a well-balanced life.
7 Jul 2021

Who is the best defense against drug abuse? ›

Drug abuse has a pervasive effect on an entire community. Understanding drug use risk factors and spreading the word through prevention programs is the best defense against drug abuse. Parental monitoring has been the most effective way to slow the expansion of drugs in family situations.

What are the conclusion of drug abuse? ›

Drug use and addiction cause a lot of disease and disability in the world. Recent advances in neuroscience may help improve policies to reduce the harm that the use of tobacco, alcohol, and other psychoactive drugs impose on society.

Videos

1. Teen Health: Substance Use and Abuse
(Penn State PRO Wellness)
2. How an opioid addiction can eat your heart alive
(PBS NewsHour)
3. Prescription Drug Abuse: A Public Health Epidemic
(Robert Wood Johnson Foundation)
4. The new face of fentanyl addiction: Kati's story
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5. Why Medical Bills In The US Are So Expensive
(CNBC)
6. Minority Health Disparities | Michelle's Story
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