Common and Lesser Known Side Effects of Addiction
Approximately one out of every seven Americans is currently battling substance addiction, but only 10 percent of them will end up voluntarily seeking treatment. Sadly, this leads to an average of 115 opioid-related deaths per day. If you are concerned that you or a loved one have developed an issue with substance abuse, it’s important to learn how to spot the numerous side effects of addiction. Doing this can make it easier to reach out for help with addiction treatment, thereby avoiding the risk of becoming a fatality statistic.
Physical Side Effects of Addiction
Developing an addiction to any type of substance, whether it’s legal or otherwise, can wreak havoc on the sufferer’s health and overall physical well-being. Although physical side effects are far from the only problem that these individuals face, they often provide the most noticeable clues for family and friends.
- Poor Nutrition
- Lack of Personal Hygiene
- Cardiovascular Issues
- Physical Injuries
- Fetal Damage
The exact type of physical damage that someone incurs can give clues about their specific addiction. For example, using meth for an extended period of time typically causes extensive dental issues. Using heroin, on the other hand, is more likely to result in muscle and skin damage due to repeated needle usage. Opioid addiction can even lead to fatal constipation if the problem is left untreated.
You or your loved one can break this cycle by getting substance abuse treatment. The quicker you reach out for help, the faster your health issues can heal. Be aware that waiting too long could cause permanent damage and may lead to premature death via side effects such as lung cancer and the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
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Lesser Known Psychological Side Effects of Addiction
Most people focus almost exclusively on the physical side effects of addiction, but there are often several lesser known telltale signs. In fact, many of these warning signs may be noticeable long before the physical complications associated with drug addiction.
- Financial Problems
- Increased Suicide Risk
- Criminal Activity
As you can see, long-term substance abuse is often closely tied in with mental health problems. As a result, individuals battling addiction are up to three times more likely to take their own life. Having an addiction can also make it difficult to hold down a steady job, and this often leads to financial problems. Unfortunately, many people who find themselves in this situation will end up living on the streets or behind bars.
Personal Issues Linked to Addiction
As if developing physical and psychological side effects wasn’t bad enough, a long list of personal issues often compounds the sufferer’s situation. Studies have shown that people who feel lonely or bullied are at a higher risk for substance abuse. Therefore, when someone who already has addiction problems loses their personal support group, their risk of remaining addicted increases.
- Losing Personal Relationships
- Losing Employment
- Behavioral Changes
As addiction grows, so does the often overwhelming need to feed it. This puts the substance abuse sufferer in a tough position because working often becomes impossible. When their financial resources run out, they might decide to steal from family members or friends. It’s also common for these individuals to turn to a variety of crimes such as burglary, selling drugs or prostitution in order to pay for their addiction.
Other behavioral changes that are often associated with substance addiction include lying, manipulating others and gas-lighting. Some people dealing with addiction even become verbally, emotionally and physically abusive toward their family and friends.
Why Does Substance Abuse Cause so Many Behavioral Changes?
There are a variety of reasons that substance abuse can push someone into harming others. In some cases, the person is so influenced and driven by their compulsive need to feed their addiction that they honestly begin to believe that others are out to get them. This type of paranoia is not uncommon, despite the fact that it’s not rooted in reality.
Put simply, most people who have an addiction don’t start off feeling constantly paranoid, nor do they tend to be overly violent. The addiction changes them, and it can cause long-lasting psychological, personal and health issues. However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel for any addicted person who wants to get clean.
If you or a family member are suffering from an addiction and want to break the cycle, contact Ocean Hills Recovery for more information. We’re here to help!
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About the author:
Nicole earned her doctoral degree in Psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy at California School of Professional Psychology. Her doctoral thesis was a grounded theory study exploring the role of alienation and connectedness in the life course of addiction. She specializes in treating addiction and trauma. She is certified in DBT and EMDR, two of the most highly regarded evidence-based methods in psychotherapy. Dr. Doss is a strong LGBT advocate and provides open and affirming support to her LGBT clients.
Dr. Doss’s earlier education included graduating cum laude from the University of California, Irvine in June of 2007 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. While there, she received honors recognition by Psi Chi and Golden Key honor societies.
Nicole has been working with alcoholics and addicts in our California drug and alcohol rehab center as an advisor and counselor for many years. She is passionate about providing quality counseling and care to her clients. Her main focus is on integrating the 12 Step and disease models of addiction with experiential therapeutic theory. She is married to Greg; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.