Substance abuse is when a person takes illegal drugs. It’s also when a person uses other legal substances, such as alcohol or prescription medication, excessively, or in the wrong manner. The dangers of substance abuse can prevent you from realizing your potential.
Substance abuse significantly affects the entire society, not just teens and young adults. Nearly 70% of older adults take painkillers regularly, and older women are more likely to use sedatives than men. Also, about 53% of older adults have hazardous drinking patterns. The dangers are real.
Risk of Addiction
According to statistics, people who drink alcohol or use illicit drugs frequently are more likely to develop dependence. Part of this is due to the function and structure of the human brain.
Your brain is wired to crave new experiences. For most people, they learn to take things in moderation after being impulsive during their late teen and early adulthood years. However, others continue to experiment with substances of abuse, especially when they face life-altering circumstances – the death of a loved one, divorce, or lost employment.
A person builds tolerance when they use drugs or alcohol excessively at prolonged durations. This means that you’ll be increasing dosage regularly to achieve the same high.
Seek assistance from a drug rehab center to overcome addiction. There are many options in the US, such as:
- Medical drug detox centers
- Inpatient drug rehab centers
- Men’s addiction treatment centers
- Women’s addiction treatment centers
- Aftercare programs
Altered Brain Chemistry
Some dangers of substance abuse can affect your intelligence and personality. Young adults aged below 25 years at a higher risk as their brains have not yet fully developed. Older adults are also at risk.
All drugs affect the part of your brain that deals with reward. This area is part of the limbic system, which affects your mood and instincts. Drugs target this area, consequently flooding the brain with dopamine – the brain chemical that regulates feelings of pleasure and emotions.
Drugs and alcohol can alter this chemistry, thus affecting a person’s ability to make decisions. It also leads to compulsive drug use and intense cravings. Over time, the person will develop substance dependency.
Alcohol disrupts the communication pathways in the brain, causing both short- and long-term effects. Alcohol impairs thinking abilities, such as memory skills.
Other Health Dangers of Substance Abuse
Drug use has numerous direct and indirect effects depending on factors such as the specific drug, how it’s taken, the dosage, and the person’s health. Short-term effects can occur even after only one use and often include changes in heart rate and blood pressure.
Long-term effects include mental illness, cancer, lung disease, overdose, stroke, and even death. Not everyone who uses drugs becomes addicted, but almost all experience a change in the brain circuit. These changes interfere with a person’s ability to make decisions, control stress levels, learn, and remember.
The physical changes will motivate you to quit, but the mental changes will make it hard to stop. Worse still, the health risks are not limited to the direct effects of the drugs themselves. Many people die as a result of motor vehicle crashes, suicide, homicide, falls and drowning caused by substance abuse.
Don’t overlook the dangers of substance abuse, whether you’re the user or it’s a loved one who is addicted. Recovery is a tough journey, and you’ll need all the help you can get. Take the first step towards a sober free life, and we’ll help with the rest. Contact us at 1.844.768.0169 to learn more.