Long term alcohol and drug abuse can result in significant mental and physical health problems. Deciding to seek treatment is likely one of the most difficult challenges someone struggling with addiction voluntarily faces. Detox and withdrawal are not often easy, and some potentially dangerous side effects are common. For this reason, it is highly recommended one does not detox alone.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction: What Happens to Your Body?
Drug and alcohol addiction impacts every part of the human body. These impacts can range from mild symptoms to serious (potentially fatal) health problems. Below is a quick list of how alcohol and drugs can impact each system of the body and brain.
Stimulant drugs such as cocaine can lead to long term heart disease, including heart failure. Certain injectable drugs such as heroin can also cause veins to collapse and lead to infections in the blood vessels or the heart. Long term alcohol use is also one of the leading causes of cardiovascular disease in the United States.
Any drug that is smoked can damage the lungs and result in diseases such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and lung cancer. Opioid drugs slow respiratory rates, which can be particularly detrimental for people with asthma. People who frequently consume alcohol tend to have increased difficulty fighting off bacteria and viruses and therefore are more susceptible to illnesses such as tuberculosis and pneumonia.
Kidney and Liver Damage
Many drugs cause long term kidney damage, including kidney failure, which can be life-threatening. Also, heroin and prescription opioids can lead to liver damage. When combined with alcohol, this damage is more severe and can result in fatal liver failure. Chronic alcohol consumption can damage the liver and prevent it from adequately removing harmful substances from your body. Alcohol addiction can also lead to potentially fatal illnesses such as cirrhosis of the liver and liver failure.
GI (Stomach) Damage
Long term drug use can result in decay and damage to the stomach and intestines, resulting in acid reflux, constipation, and chronic abdominal pain. Alcohol abuse can lead to stomach ulcers, gas, bloating, and other gastric difficulties.
Chronic alcohol and drug use can impact fertility, sexual function, and the health of unborn children. In women, many of the effects of drugs and alcohol use pass through the placenta directly to the unborn child. Chronic abuse of certain drugs can lead children to be born “addicted” and require days or even weeks of hospitalization before they can go home. Drinking alcohol or consuming drugs over a long period may lead to infertility in both men and women.
Drug and alcohol abuse both impact the brain. Chronic drug use affects the pleasure centers in the brain by changing how receptor sites process chemicals within the brain. Alcohol, however, works as a central nervous system depressant. This means it impairs or alters certain functions of the brain by disrupting neurons’ ability to communicate. This can often lead to impaired judgment and a lack of coordination.
Why You Should Complete Drug and Alcohol Detox at a Professional Facility
Drug or alcohol detox is the first step on the road to sobriety. Detox is the collection of symptoms one experiences when they suddenly stop drinking or stop using a substance. The symptoms of drug detox or alcohol detox can range from relatively minor to life-threatening. The severity of the symptoms will depend on the individual, how long they have been drinking or using, and what substance they use.
Detox is the process involved when the body rids itself of drugs and alcohol. Although vital to the treatment’s success, the detox process is often accompanied by sickness and discomfort related to withdrawal. The body and brain have become accustomed to functioning with a certain amount of an addictive substance. The organs and brain have altered their function to accommodate and flush the toxic chemicals from the body. However, as the body rids itself of these toxic substances, it doesn’t “bounce back” as quickly, and this can result in a host of unpleasant effects known as withdrawal symptoms. These can include nausea, tremors, gastric problems, dizziness, and elevated heart rate. In the most severe cases, seizures, abnormal heartbeat (palpitations), and other life-threatening conditions can occur. For these reasons, medically assisted detox at a facility where medical supervision and intervention are available should potentially adverse side effects arise.
In addition to medical supervision, mental and therapeutic support are essential to success throughout the withdrawal process. While the physical symptoms may be unpleasant, the emotional challenges associated with withdrawal can become very difficult to manage when trying to detox on your own.
Get Help With Addiction at Rise in Malibu
How addiction presents is different for each person, and therefore how drug and alcohol detox are approached must be individual as well. At Rise in Malibu, we offer a wide range of treatment and detox options catered to your needs. When you enter treatment at Rise Malibu, you can count on receiving a full treatment experience from our highly trained staff of addiction professionals. Our team is dedicated to ensuring your success and long-term recovery. If you are ready to experience life without the pull of addiction, take the next step, and call Rise in Malibu today.