Top 10 Health Consequences of Substance Abuse

Substance abuse can impact physical and mental health in a number of ways. Not only can addiction to substances like alcohol or opioids lead to chronic health problems, but it can also cause mental health concerns that make lasting recovery challenging. However, addiction treatment programs can help reverse many of the effects of substance use on health and it can also give participants the tools they need to maintain recovery long-term. 

The Health Consequences of Substance Abuse

1. Liver Damage

Several substances can affect the liver, but alcohol is most commonly connected to liver damage. Long-term liver damage can lead to cirrhosis, which is the replacement of healthy liver tissue with scar tissue. This can eventually lead to liver failure. In recent years, women have developed alcohol-related liver damage at a rate higher than men.

2. Cardiovascular Disease

Substance abuse, particularly alcohol abuse, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Cardiovascular disease includes conditions like stroke, heart attack, and high blood pressure. Women are more likely than men to die from a cardiovascular disease event like a heart attack. This is partly because women are more likely to have risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease, including smoking and obesity.

3. Pregnancy Complications

Substance abuse during pregnancy can lead to a number of complications for both the mother and the child. Pregnant women who abuse substances are more likely to experience premature labor, low birth weight, and stillbirth. Babies born to mothers who abused substances during pregnancy may also be at risk for neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). NAS is a condition where the baby experiences withdrawal symptoms after birth because they were exposed to substances in the womb.

4. Mental Health Concerns

Substance abuse can also lead to mental health concerns. Women who abuse substances are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Substance abuse can also worsen the symptoms of mental health conditions that women already have.

5. Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition where bones become weak and brittle. Women are more likely to develop osteoporosis than men, and substance abuse can increase the risk even further. This is because substances like alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium, which is necessary for healthy bones.

6. Cancer

One of the biggest risk factors for cancer is substance abuse. Women who struggle with substance use disorders are more likely to develop cancer of the breast, cervix, and ovaries. Smoking is the biggest risk factor for cancer, but alcohol abuse can also increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer.

7. Immune System Deficiencies

Substance abuse can also weaken the immune system, which makes it harder for the body to fight off infections. This can lead to a number of health problems, including pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses.

8. Digestive Issues

Digestive issues like gastritis, inflammation of the stomach lining, can be caused by substance abuse. This can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Substance abuse can also contribute to other digestive problems like ulcers and Crohn’s disease.

9. Skin Problems

Substance abuse can lead to a number of skin problems. These include everything from acne to psoriasis. In some cases, substance abuse can also lead to cell death and skin cancer.

10. Hormonal Imbalances

Substance abuse can cause hormonal imbalances, which can lead to a number of health problems. These include irregular periods, infertility, and problems during pregnancy. Hormonal imbalances can also cause mood swings and anxiety.

Find Hope and Wellness at Hammocks on the Edisto

If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, it’s important to seek help. The wellness services at Hammocks on the Edisto can help women in recovery heal from the effects of substance abuse. We offer a variety of services, including:

  • Individual and group therapy
  • Yoga and meditation
  • Nutrition counseling

Contact us today at 833.793.0191 to learn more about how we can help you or a loved one on the road to recovery.

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