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Adverse health consequences of substance abuse

1.Physical Health Problems: All drugs (alcohol and other drugs) not only affects brain but other organs also. Effects of substance use range from mild to very severe damage to organ affected. For example, Smoking or chewing tobacco can cause damage to oral cavity, lungs and other part of respiratory system lung damage and can lead to oral or lung cancer. Alcohol addiction affects almost every part of body but liver is the organ which is affected most. Chronic use of alcohol can cause cirrhosis of liver which further can lead to portal hypertension and hepatic encephalpathy. Sniffing substances can damage the inside of the nose and parts of respiratory system. Use of injections (I.V. needles) by the abusers for injecting drugs can cause hematoma, infection at injection site that may lead to local abscess formation.

Substances abusers are also more prone to many kind of infections like TB, sexually transmitted diseases (Syphilis, Gonorrhea, HIV through unprotected sex or using unsterilized needles), fungal infections, parasitic infections and many more.

Wide range of respiratory dysfunction as well as decreased lung function and bronchitis, coughing and wheezing even after stop using has been seen. Drug and alcohol addicts are more to encounter seizures because lower threshold for seizures on prolonged use of substances. A lot of nutritional deficiencies may develop in these group of patients because of many reasons like bad dietary habits, poor absorption of nutrients in gut which may result in development of diseases such as anemia, Wernicke‖s encephalopathy, neuropathies, myopathies,

2. Safety Hazard: These psychoactive drugs reduces physical coordination, impair the senses, attention and capacity of judgment. This impairment can pose severe safety threats. Alcohol and drug abuse (intoxication) is one of the major factors of road traffic accidents. People who have consumed alcohol/ drugs are often unaware of the extent of their impairment. Decreased physical coordination and impaired judgment can lead to falls and other serious accidents.

3. Mental Health Problems: Some drugs can cause short-term confusion, anxiety. Long term use of drugs can result in learning problems, loss of memory, personality disturbances , organic brain diseases and can lead to permanent mental disorder. Sometimes it has been seen that someone start consuming drugs as a way of avoiding normal anxiety, low mood and some danger, but on repeated and long term use of substance can make a person addict. Many people

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who use drugs in this way come to believe that they cannot function normally without drugs. People with histories of serious emotional or mental health problems may also turn to drugs as a way of coping with unpleasant feelings. A correlation has been reported between substance use and lack of motivation. A condition called “amotivational syndrome” entails apathy, loss of effectiveness and a diminished ability to concentrate, difficulty to follow routines and inability to master new learning. But it has been proved in various studies that substance abusers are more likely than non-abusers to develop depression and mood disorders. Chances of suicidal attempts, sexual abuse are more in abusers.

4. Tolerance: This means increase demand of substance with regular use to get same amount of kick or effect. Tolerance increases the physical health risks of any substance simply because it can result in increased substance use over time. There are chances of overdose and fetal consequences.

5. Physical Dependence :Physical dependence occurs when a person’s body becomes so accustomed to a particular substance that it can only function normally if the substance is present. If people who use drugs drastically reduce their level of use or stop using the substance abruptly, they may experience a variety of signs and symptoms ranging from mild discomfort to seizures. These effects, some of which can be fatal, are collectively referred to as “withdrawal”. Withdrawal symptoms are often opposite to the effects produced by taking the drug, e.g. when a person stops using a stimulant substance such as cocaine they may become depressed, need to sleep a lot, and have increased appetite when they awaken. To avoid the discomfort of withdrawal, the person who uses drugs may start to use again or feel unable to stop using the drug. Not all drugs produce physical dependence, but they may still be abused because the person who uses drugs becomes psychologically dependent on the drug’s effects.

6. Psychological Dependence: Psychological dependence can be explain that patient a substance is always central to a addicts thoughts,

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emotions and activities that it is extremely difficult to stop using it. Craving is so strong for a substance patient is unable to control himself from getting a substance.

“Salience” means, a person have no interest any other than enjoying a substance. Like physical dependence, psychological dependence is a cause of continued substance use. An individual may be both psychologically and physically dependent on a drug.

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