Substance abuse is characterized by a pattern of harmful use of any substance. This can include alcohol, drugs, and even some legal substances. People who abuse substances often do so because they feel that they need the substance to cope with things like mental health concerns or past trauma, or because long-term use of the substance has changed their brain chemistry in a way that makes it difficult to stop using.
Substance abuse can lead to a wide range of problems, both for the person using substances and for those around them. Just a few of the dangers of substance abuse include damage to relationships, financial difficulties, and health problems. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, there is help available. There are many different types of substance abuse treatment programs that can help you get on the road to recovery.
The Risks of Drug or Alcohol 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, like 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.
Altered Brain Chemistry from Substance Abuse
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, which is the 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 health issues
- Lung disease
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.
Find Help for Substance Abuse at The Right Step Houston
Don’t overlook the dangers of substance abuse, whether you’re reaching out for help for yourself or a loved one. 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.