Addiction is a chronic medical disease that severely impacts the lives of those suffering from it.
Unfortunately, the onset of addiction can’t be attributed to only one factor, with genetics, brain activity, environmental influences, and individual life experiences each playing a role and interacting. For an addict, the result is that the occasional use of illicit substances becomes difficult or impossible to control – even as substance abuse impairs their ability to function day-to-day.
Furthermore, individuals who are dependent on drugs or alcohol may not realize the extent to which addiction impacts their well-being and that of family, friends, co-workers, and the community.
Drug Addiction Impacts Your Physical and Mental Health
On the whole, misuse of drugs or alcohol can have profound effects on both your physical and mental health. The degree of impact will depend on which substance is misused, the length of time it’s been misused, how the drugs or alcohol get consumed, your baseline health, and other factors.1 Substance misuse can also change the way your brain functions – rewiring reward circuits and disrupting neurotransmitters.2 These alterations can lead to mental disorders or worsen an existing mental illness.
Physical and mental effects of addiction may include:
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in heart rate and blood pressure
- Mood shifts
- Increased chance of a stroke or heart attack
- Damage to major organs
- HIV infection
Substance Abuse Impacts Your Performance at Work or School
In particular, students and employees risk poor performance at work or in school due to a drug or alcohol addiction.
Students – especially youth – are at risk of developing cognitive impairments because of changes to their brain activity. Impaired mental development can affect working memory and attention and ultimately lead to declines in engagement, poor academic progression, and increased dropout rates.3 Furthermore, associating with peers who misuse drugs or alcohol can exacerbate problems at school – particularly behavioral issues and attendance.3
For employees, addiction can impact work performance and opportunities for advancement by causing absenteeism and possible termination. But addiction can also affect the health of an organization due to decreases in employee productivity and morale, workplace accidents, and frequent absenteeism.4
Addiction Negatively Impacts Your Finances
When poor performance at work leads to job loss, the resulting loss of income may cause the individual to use drugs or alcohol to cope with the stress and anxiety of financial hardship, loss of self-esteem, and inability to provide for a family. In addition, by relying on these substances to manage anxiety or depression, an individual with a substance use disorder will find it more challenging to take on a new job search and secure a stable position.
However, even those who are still employed may see their savings dwindle due to spending a sizable portion of their income supporting their drug or alcohol habit. If finances are tight, the individual may resort to risky or criminal activity to acquire the substances they cannot afford.
Addiction Impacts Your Relationships
Addiction can take a toll on your spouse, partner, children, extended close family members, and friends. People who struggle with a substance use disorder will find it hard to be physically and emotionally present for their partners, children, and other loved ones.5
Partners may either put distance between one another or come together in an unhealthy way (e.g., fighting). Fighting can negatively impact children emotionally, but there’s also a risk that verbal arguments can become physically violent. Since individuals with a substance use disorder often prioritize acquiring illicit substances above caring for their family, children of an addicted parent are more likely to fall behind on medical visits and lack access to proper food, water, and shelter.6
Additionally, a high level of tension in the family dynamic may cause the person to find ways to escape through drugs or alcohol, compounding the problem and further deteriorating relationships. Finally, repeated patterns of behavior make it more challenging to end the cycle without an intervention.
You Can Reverse the Negative Effects of Addiction
If you’re struggling with addiction and have seen how your substance use disorder impacts your family, health, and well-being, it’s not too late to turn your life around. The staff at Ocean Hills Recovery is trained to teach you the skills you need to function in everyday life without drugs or alcohol. Each of our patients is unique, which is why we develop customized programs that address the challenges you face in getting sober. We’ll also make sure you’re cared for and supported as you work your way back to healthy living. Contact us to learn which program is right for you.
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.