While it is widely known that drugs and alcohol cause numerous psychological effects, there are also countless other health problems that face those with addiction. The consequences a person faces can be largely dependent on the type of substances used, but a myriad of bodily effects can develop no matter what a person uses. Cancer, lung disease, heart disease, infectious diseases, and mental health disorders are only a few of the abundant ailments a person may be subjected to.

While there are a multitude of substances that have the potential to be abused, alcohol, opiates, and stimulants are some of the most prevalent. Because each of these substances has some way of obtaining it legally, they are commonly abused. Although being legal may present a false idea that the substances are less harmful, they can cause numerous physical ailments and issues that can be fatal.

How Does Addiction Effect the Body?


Alcoholism is one of the most prevalent forms of substance abuse in the country. As a major component of many social gatherings, it is readily available and easy to misuse. Because it lowers inhibitions and can make people feel happier, more sociable, and more confident, it is easy to overlook the negative side effects of use. Despite the fact that those side effects are perceived to be positive, alcohol is actually a depressant that damages virtually every part of the body.

  1. Alcohol triggers the release of neurotransmitters in the brain that can cause numerous side effects such as:
    • Depression
    • Anxiety
    • Hallucinations
    • Delusions
    • Spasms
    • Night terrors
    • Aggression
  2. Alcohol abuse can cause complications with:
    • Fertility
    • Sex drive
    • Fatigue
    • Depression

  3. Excess alcohol consumption can lead to fatty liver disease which clogs the liver and makes it unable to perform as efficiently
  4. Excess consumption can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, meaning the cells are so damage that they cannot regenerate and may lead to liver failure
  5. Alcohol increases the risk for breast cancer
  6. Alcohol causes irritation and inflammation in the stomach which may lead to the development of ulcers and breathing
  7. Heavy alcohol use can cause inflammation in the pancreas, increasing risk for pancreatic cancer and diabetes
  8. Alcohol consumption can cause inflammation in the heart, irregular heartbeat, and increased blood pressure, putting many at risk for a stroke or heart attack
  9. Excessive drinking can increase the risk of bone fractures
  10. Excessive consumption can cause cell damage to the nervous system
  11. Alcohol is linked to the development of tumors in the colon


Opiates are incredibly potent and dangerous substances. As a component of prescription medications, such as Vicodin and OxyContin, and other more illicit substances, such as heroin, abusing this drug can have serious repercussions. The method of use can dictate which side effects a person may experience. Injecting, snorting, or ingesting all come with their own set of unique consequences in addition to the general ramifications of substance abuse.

Opiates can cause any number of the following effects on the body:

  1. Injecting opiates can cause veins to collapse
  2. The lining of the heart can become infected due to contamination
  3. Respiratory depression can slow breathing to a halt
  4. Sharing needles can lead to the development of hepatitis
  5. Heavy use of opiates can sedate the brain
  6. Chronic abuse can make the nervous system more sensitive to pain
  7. Opiates can slow the digestive process and cause constipation, vomiting, and nausea
  8. Opiate abuse can increase vulnerability to infection due to a compromised immune system


Stimulant drugs primarily affect the body’s central nervous system, but can cause numerous changes in the body. Prescription drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin, methamphetamines, and cocaine all fall under this category. Depending on the method in which it is used, it can have differing effects on the body. Some of these include:

  1. Stimulants increase heart rate and can cause irregular heart rhythm or heart attack
  2. Blood vessels can become constricted, making the heart have to work harder to pump blood
  3. Stimulants can cause chest pain and difficulty breathing
  4. Snorting stimulants can cause nosebleeds, loss of sense of smell, trouble swallowing, and runny nose
  5. Stimulants can increase body temperature and blood pressure
  6. Using stimulants can cause decreased appetite leading to malnourishment
  7. Excessive use of stimulants can lead to insomnia and sleep deprivation
  8. Stimulants can cause irritability, panic attacks, and paranoia

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug or alcohol abuse, we are here to help. Give us a call at 888.855.6877 or send us a message below and one of our admissions counselors will do their best to get you the help you need.


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