Long-term drug use can profoundly affect your body and psychological and emotional well-being. While some may try to downplay the adverse effects of long-term drug use, the truth is that ignoring them could make things worse in the long run.
Though effects will vary between substances–for example, the common effects of heroin will differ from those of cocaine–drug addiction, in general, can have detrimental effects on health over time.
Long-term drug use can lead to depression. Drugs make it challenging to cope with everyday life and can lead to problems with work, school, and relationships.
If you’re depressed, you may feel hopeless, helpless, or worthless. You may also have problems eating, sleeping or concentrating. Getting help for depression early on can save a lot of heartache in the long run.
Although there’s no single test for diagnosing depression, your doctor will evaluate your symptoms and interview you before making a diagnosis. They’ll also consider what’s going on in your life and try to rule out other conditions that might be causing your symptoms.
Severe paranoia and hallucinations
People who abuse drugs for a long time can experience severe paranoia. Hallucinations occur when the person sees or hears things not really there.
Users may also feel like bugs are crawling or someone is touching them when no one is there. They might even hear voices telling them to do things they wouldn’t normally do if sober, such as committing suicide or hurting someone else.
Paranoid delusions may cause the person to believe that others are trying to harm them in some way when no one is doing anything wrong to them. These effects can be hazardous and can lead to severe accidents.
Cognitive impairment is one of the most common effects of long-term drug use. This effect can manifest as memory, attention, and executive functioning problems. Drug users may experience difficulty in learning new information, solving new issues, and storing information for future recall.
Factors contributing to cognitive impairment include frequency, age at which you started using drugs, and duration of abuse. These impairments are more pronounced among those who began using drugs at a young age or used heavily for a prolonged period. In severe cases, it can lead to dementia.
Another common effect of long-term drug use is liver damage. Your liver is made for filtering toxins out of the body, and drugs can put a strain on this vital organ.
Over the course of time, this can lead to inflammation, scarring, and even liver failure. Watch for signs of liver damage, such as yellowing skin or eyes, dark urine, fatigue, nausea, and pain in the abdomen or sides. It is important to seek medical attention immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
One of the most common effects of long-term drug use is strained relationships. Drugs can take a toll on your loved ones, whether with your family, friends, or significant other.
You may start to lie or keep secrets from them, which can lead to trust issues. Additionally, you may become more aggressive or withdrawn, making it hard to connect on a deeper level.
If you’re using drugs to cope with problems in your relationships, you must seek help to learn healthy coping mechanisms. Substance abuse counselors can work with you to identify any underlying issues and teach you how to deal with the issues instead of turning to drugs.
People who abuse drugs long-term often develop movement disorders. These disorders can include problems with coordination, tremors, and restlessness. For example, drug users have an increased risk of neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease.
One early symptom is experiencing difficulty maintaining balance when standing still or walking. Other early symptoms include drooling, shuffling gait, slowed movements, and speech that becomes difficult to understand.
Treatment can help alleviate some of these side effects, but we recommend resisting drug use early on.
Long-term drug use increases the risk of contracting bloodborne illnesses. These diseases spread through contact with blood or other bodily fluids, and sharing needles is a common way drug users acquire them.
HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, and tuberculosis are all severe risks associated with long-term drug use. HIV/AIDS can lead to AIDS, an often fatal disease that attacks the immune system and weakens your body’s ability to fight off infections.
Hepatitis B and C lead to liver disease, while tuberculosis can result in fatal lung infections. Syphilis can cause blindness, dementia, paralysis, and even death.
Although drug use may seem enjoyable in the short term, plenty of long-term effects can become a severe issue. If you’re worried about the long-term impact of your drug use, you should talk to your doctor or visit an addiction treatment center to start treating the problem.