When you think of Substance Use Disorder (SUD), you may think it’s a single-planed condition. You struggle with substance abuse, this affects your pocketbook and your relationships, and sometimes your health. Still, for the most part, you feel you’re just dealing with misusing drugs or alcohol. The problem with that is that there are many medical conditions associated with Substance Use Disorder that go past the general use of misusing drugs or alcohol, and the long-term impacts can be significant.
When Other Health Consequences Arise – Secondary Medical Conditions Associated With Substance Use Disorder
Research continually finds correlations and associations between medical conditions associated with substance use disorder and the disorders themselves. The damaging effects of long-term drug or alcohol use on the body come in the form of strokes, cancers, heart disease, lung diseases, mental health disorders, and more. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDS), HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis C are often comorbid conditions or significantly increased in contraction rates when it comes to drug use. The same can be said for hepatitis too. Not to mention what substance misuse can do to the brain or your peripheral nervous system.
Substance Use Disorders and HIV/AIDS
When you struggle with addiction, your risks of contracting HIV/AIDS and other STDs increase. When you’re misusing alcohol, you may make choices that lead to risky sexual behaviors and risky partners. This can lead you to contract conditions through sexual intercourse.
The same can be said for misusing methamphetamines. Your risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS or other STDs increases because meth is also linked to risky sexual behaviors like having sex without a condom or with more than one partner. Additionally, meth can be injected, and if people are sharing needles, HIV/AIDS, and other STDs risks increase.
Opioids and crack cocaine misuse may lead you to make poor choices to continue to feed your habit. Those poor choices could include trading sex for the drugs, which could increase your HIV/AIDs and STD risks. Those are also risky when injected, as they tend to encourage needle sharing too.
Hepatitis Secondary to Substance Use Disorder
Your liver’s job is to process blood and to filter toxins from your body. When you acquire Hepatitis C virus infection (HCV), you may experience cirrhosis or liver scarring over your lifetime. If the HCV progresses or is poorly managed or treated, you may also experience blood and skin disorders and suffer from significant weight loss.
Hepatitis C is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the United States. Research shows that the incidence of acute HCV more than doubled between 2004 and 2014. The research also found that the significant rise in opioid addiction that gave rise to the opioid epidemic we face mirrors that of the reported cases for HCV. The findings strongly suggested the increase in the HCV infections was associated with injection drug use.
Once hepatitis is introduced into the group of those with whom you inject drugs, it circulates quickly as drug equipment like needles, syringes, and cookers are shared.
Sexual transmission of HCV is significantly more uncommon, but research shows that among those who use drugs to enhance sexual experiences (chemsex) and more specifically within groups of men who have sex with men, Hepatitis C transmission is increased.
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Endocarditis And Substance Use Disorders
When the inner lining of your heart chambers and heart valves (endocardium) are infected, you have endocarditis. This typically occurs when fungi or bacteria or other germs spread through your bloodstream. They attach to areas in your heart and can damage or destroy your heart valves.
Symptoms include fever and chills, new or changed heart murmurs, fatigue, night sweats, aching joints and muscles, chest pain, shortness of breath, and swelling in your legs, feet, or abdomen.
Research suggests that infective endocarditis is a common complication of intravenous drug use. When you use contaminated needles and syringes, you are more likely to share bacteria or fungi that will cause endocarditis. The endocarditis affects your cardiac valves, and can also damage your mitral or aortic valves. Untreated endocarditis can be deadly.
Additional Medical Conditions Associated With Addiction: Cancer, Strokes, and Arthritis
A study done on patients in a large integrated healthcare system in California found that patients who suffered from substance abuse disorders had a higher prevalence of 19 major health problems than those with no substance use disorders. Hepatitis C, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Congestive Heart Failure, and Chronic Pain topped the list of most elevated risk. That said, the research also discovered higher risks of cancer, strokes, and arthritis, and increased 10-year mortality risk too.
Those risks don’t even address the increased rates of motor vehicle accidents for those suffering from SUD. Research continues to show the negative and devastating health effects of driving under the influence of alcohol or marijuana. These effects sadly could include your death or the death of others involved in the accidents.
Ocean Hills Recovery: Better Recovery, Better Health
At Ocean Hills Recovery, we know that you getting clean and sober won’t happen overnight. But we also know that every second you work toward sobriety makes the weight of secondary medical aconditions associated with substance use disorder a little less worrisome. We’re a caring team of professionals that want to help you transition from the life of substance misuse you’re living to one of health and happiness. Our variety of drug and alcohol treatment options include individual, group and family therapy, and holistic practices like healthier eating and yoga. We’re a premier facility in a beautiful environment, but mostly, we’re the place where you’ll learn how to live a clean, sober, and healthy life—a life to live for the long-term.
If you’re ready to take the steps to get to that life you deserve, contact us today.
SOURCES: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1913689/  https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.2017.304132  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4952976/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3714084/#:~:text=Infective%20endocarditis%20(IE)%20is%20a,valves%20can%20also%20be%20involved.  https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2017/10/substance-use-disorders-are-associated-major-medical-illnesses-mortality-risk-in-large-integrated  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5678710/
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATCI). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.