Secondary Health Damage of Addiction

One of the more overlooked effects of addiction is the negligence of general health of an addict when they’re deeply affected by the illness. Drugs and alcohol are already responsible for much of the health problems an addict can face: snorting cocaine results in the collapse of the septum, alcoholism can have devastating effects on the liver, meth and crack are known to cause massive dental damage from long term use, etc. These kinds of more acute harm that are directly related to the drug being abused tend to overshadow secondary health effects that often accompany them.

One of the common threads through addiction and its effects on a user’s health is diet. Often times, the drug itself will be an appetite suppressant like cocaine or methamphetamine. Even if the addict doesn’t end up homeless as a result of their use, malnutrition often still occurs due to erratic eating habits that accompany drug and alcohol addiction. Compounding the problem is generally that what food is eaten is often not especially healthy itself or simply not enough to make up for the previously missed meals. Even alcoholics face significant diet problems  as a result of their alcohol use typically from poor choice of food while under the influence. These dietary issues can lead to complications when dealing with the more direct health problems of the substance being abused.

Many addicts also add unnecessary stress to their bodies from abnormal sleep patterns and lack of sleep entirely. This is especially true of those who are addicted to stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine. Lack of sleep without any drugs involved, even if over short periods of time such as a few days, can result in hospitalization and even death. The body uses rest for tissue repair. If an addict is losing sleep, the body’s natural repair cycle for damage from using the drugs is inhibited. Sleep is also necessary for mental restoration. People who don’t sleep, whether on a substance or not, often enter a state of psychosis which includes paranoia, anxiety, mood swings and hallucinations. Adding drugs into the mix makes these problems worse while simultaneously being the cause for these situations to begin with.

Drug and rehab centers not only focus on the sobering of someone who’s suffering from addiction but instilling healthy habits into the patient in recovery. Long term use of a substance can create many habitual rituals in behavior that, even on their own, aren’t healthy and can also feed into relapse situations. Eating right and scheduling sufficient sleep can go a long way towards recovery after the initial treatment period. Addiction is a serious illness and requires drug rehab help from professional counselors and specialists.  If you or anyone you know in the Seattle area might be suffering from addiction or alcoholism, please call the helpline for drug addiction at Northbound. 866-311-0003.

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.

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