Substance abuse is a dangerous behavior with serious, lasting consequences. If your patients are showing signs of an addiction, it’s important to keep in mind how that can influence other aspects of their health. By paying attention to these signs and the potential issues they might cause, you can help your patients address their addiction and get back on the path to recovery. Here is our guide to how addiction can affect overall health.
Substance abuse and mental health issues often go hand-in-hand. Drug and alcohol use can worsen pre-existing mood and anxiety disorders, or it may lead to the development of these disorders. Behavioral issues can also stem from substance abuse. Aggression, paranoia, and impaired judgment are all symptoms that can have both short- and long-term effects on your patient. Someone dealing with addiction might also develop memory issues or have trouble concentrating. Furthermore, mental health issues make it harder to for your patient to take care of their physical health, making the recovery process that much harder.
No matter what kind of substance abuse your patient is dealing with, addiction puts the entire body at risk. Nausea and changes in appetite frequently lead to unhealthy weight loss. There are also many potential heart issues, such as heart attacks or cardiovascular infections. Brain damage is another serious side effect, and it may result in life-threatening issues, such as strokes or seizures.
One example of how addiction can affect overall health is the risk of infection. Drug and alcohol abuse damage the immune system and increase a patient’s risk of illnesses and infections. A weakened immune system can turn the common cold into a serious health hazard. Serious infectious diseases such as HIV, AIDS, and hepatitis can also stem from drug use. This is especially true for injected drugs, including heroin or cocaine. Unclean or shared needles—along with impaired judgment and other risky behaviors—are major opportunities for the spread of these and other dangerous, chronic infections.