We Don’t Always Tell Ourselves the Truth

Human beings have a remarkable ability to decide that certain facts—particularly unpleasant facts—simply don’t apply to them.

You see this sort of magical thinking all of the time. It might be a person who believes they have a special ability to text and drive at the same time. It might be a person who believes they can work with power tools without any protective gear. It might be a person who believes that their child’s grade should be changed so that they stay eligible for extracurricular activities.

These sorts of folks convince themselves that they are somehow invulnerable and that the potential negative consequences of their behavior will never catch up to them. The reality, of course, is that those consequences have a way of arriving no matter how much we wish were immune to them.

That is certainly true when it comes to drug or alcohol use. 

Many, many people manage to convince themselves that the negative impacts of using drugs or alcohol won’t be a problem for them. Maybe they are convinced they won’t become addicted and can quit using drugs or drinking alcohol whenever they would like. Maybe they are convinced that the pleasant feelings they experience exist entirely separately from any potential problems. Maybe they just steadfastly refuse to admit they are having physical or mental health issues related to drug or alcohol use—even when the evidence is plain for everyone to see.

In an effort to dispel these dangerous delusions, we offer this reminder of just some of the consequences that come with the development of a substance use disorder. 

Head to Toe: Physical Health Impacts of a Substance Use Disorder

While the specific impacts may vary from drug to drug, long-term substance use can take its toll on nearly every part of your body.

  • Your cardiovascular system: Drugs that impact your heart rate and/or blood pressure are extremely dangerous. Heart disease, heart failure, cardiac arrest, and strokes are some of the dangers. Circulatory problems—including the development of blood clots—are also a possibility.
  • Your respiratory system: From reducing your oxygen supply by causing slow, shallow breathing to causing lung cancer, emphysema, and other lung issues, various substances can undermine your ability to breathe.
  • Your gastrointestinal system: Drugs and alcohol can have a range of negative impacts on your mouth (including your salivary glands), esophagus, throat, stomach, pancreas, intestines (both large and small), rectum. Ongoing abdominal pain, acid reflux, and chronic constipation are among the potential outcomes of drug use.
  • Your liver and kidneys: These organs are responsible for removing toxins from your bloodstream, but drug use can impede their ability to do so. Eventually, dialysis may be required to deal with renal failure or liver cancer and other serious conditions may arise.

Matters of the Mind: Mental Health Impacts of a Substance Use Disorder

Drugs affect your brain by altering its chemistry. That means that drug and alcohol use affects how you think, feel, act, and react. The changes can be substantial and long-lasting—or even permanent.

  • Impaired cognitive processing: Your memory as well as your ability to learn, solve problems, and make decisions can all be negatively impacted.
  • Impaired information processing: Learning, motivation, and the integration of emotions can all be undermined by substance use.
  • High levels of antisocial behavior: These behaviors might include increased levels of aggression or violent impulses.
  • Increased likelihood of mood disorders: A range of mental health disorders—including depression, anxiety, hypochondria, and delusions—can result from substance use. 

Now is the Time to Get the Help You Need

If you are struggling with drugs or alcohol, we hope and trust the list of potential health issues we have provided has gotten your full attention. At The Aviary Recovery Center—located in Eolia and Kirkwood, Missouri–we can help you regain your sobriety and maintain it over time.

We provide personalized treatment that starts with medically supervised detoxification, continues with a robust rehabilitation program, and provides ongoing support in the form of our continuum of care. Our staff is made up of compassionate experts in the treatment of substance use disorders, and we were recently honored to be named to Newsweek and Statista’s list of “America’s Best Addiction Treatment Centers.”

Drugs and alcohol will undermine your physical and mental health, so the time to make a change in your life is always right now. When you are ready to get started, we are ready and able to help.