19 Oct The Impact of Substance Abuse on Physical Health: Recognising the Warning Signs
Anybody who has been through or witnessed substance abuse first-hand will tell you of the visible impact it can have on someone’s physical health. Depending on the substance and the level of abuse, it can vary, but often, if left untreated, the side effects can be catastrophic. Today, we would like to talk about the impact it can have on physical health if left untreated and share some initial warning signs that are essential to look out for if you are worried about someone you care for. Remember, if someone you know is struggling, it is essential to approach with caution. A person with substance abuse disorder is often in a vulnerable place and needs to be treated with empathy and understanding.
How substance abuse can impact physical health in the long term
Long-term substance abuse can be extremely harmful to someone’s physical and mental health. Often, it can lead to various health implications, illnesses, mental health disorders, and a much shorter lifespan. Before knowing the early signs of substance abuse, it is imperative to know where it can eventually lead. Here is a list of how substance abuse can damage various parts of the human body.
How specific mental health disorders have a connection to specific substance use
Respiratory – Many drugs can cause breathing difficulties, lung infections, and even lung cancer. The substances that have the most damaging effect are opioids or ones that are smoked.
Cardiovascular – Stimulants have the most significant impact on the cardiovascular system and can often cause blood clots, collapsed veins, and heart attacks.
Gastrointestinal – Most substance abusers will eventually have problems such as chronic diarrhoea and constipation, acid reflux and digestive issues.
Kidneys – A lot of substances increase the chance of kidney damage, failure, and disease. This is due to muscle breakdown and increased body temperature.
Liver – Many substances are toxic to the liver. This can lead to fatty liver, hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis.
Brain – Almost all substances have an impact on a person’s cognitive ability, attention span, memory, and decision-making ability.
Endocrine system – Hormonal imbalances caused by substance abuse can have a terrible impact on physical health and damage the reproductive system.
Dental – Many drugs cause dental issues such as cavities, decay, tooth loss, and gum disease. If a person uses methamphetamine, this issue is almost unavoidable.
Malnutrition – Eventually, substances will reduce someone’s appetite, weaken the immune system, and lead to various health implications.
Infections – If a person is reusing needles or anything else unsanitary, it can lead to infections such as HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C.
Musculoskeletal system – Various substances will also decrease bone density, making it easy to fracture or break them. They will also cause muscle wasting and strain, weakening the entire body.
The early changes in physical health and appearance to look out for
When someone has started to abuse substances, there are some early signs that could give it away. Of course, they can all happen for other reasons, but if you know someone who has a history of partaking in the misuse of drugs and alcohol, these could be the warning signs you need to help them.
Changes in appearance – When people have taken substances, there are some instant signs that can give them away. This might be bloodshot eyes, dilated or constricted pupils, bad breath, strange odours, or a sudden shift in skin tone. When people abuse them, you might notice sudden weight loss or weight gain, discoloured teeth, poor dental hygiene, or skin problems. A lack of caring about one’s appearance might also be an early warning sign of substance abuse.
Nosebleeds – If you notice someone who doesn’t usually suffer from nosebleeds is beginning to get them frequently, this could be a sign that they are abusing substances such as amphetamines or cocaine.
Trouble with basic coordination – If someone’s speech begins to slur regularly, their voice changes, or they begin to stutter, this can also be an early sign. Coordination issues might also include poor balance, clumsiness, or unsteady walking.
Gastrointestinal problems – These problems don’t take long to occur in most people and may include vomiting, nausea, or constipation.
Fatigue – Another common issue is a lack of energy or feeling lethargic for no apparent reason.
Trouble breathing – Many substances don’t take long to cause difficulty in breathing. This is often down to smoking substances or inhaling solvents.
Alterations in sleep patterns – If someone begins to oversleep or is suddenly unable to sleep, this can be a sign of withdrawal.
Frequent illness – People who abuse substances will have a weakened immune system and fall ill more often.
Seizures – If a person doesn’t have a history of epilepsy or other issues that might cause them, it could be caused by drug intoxication.
Unusual marks and bruises – If a person has been injecting a substance, you may notice marks and bruises on their body that look out of place. Everyone can accidentally injure themselves, but if it is happening frequently, it could be a problem.
Don’t stay silent
If you have noticed any of the above signs and believe someone you know is suffering from substance abuse disorder, please contact Calm Rehab today. At our drug rehab in Bali, we have a team of dedicated professionals who are fully equipped to deal with any situation relating to substance abuse. It is never too late to turn back the clock and bring someone back to who they used to be.