Effects of Addiction
Many people suffering from addiction justify their behavior by telling themselves, and others, that they are only hurting themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth, the effects of addiction are usually widespread and often profound. Do you know the signs of drug abuse? That is not to say that addicts aren’t hurting themselves. They are. The physical effects of addiction are obvious to most and include an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, liver disease, stroke and a host of related afflictions. Substance abuse, when left unchecked, permeates the body. However, the physical effects, while they are devastating but unique to the abuser, are just the beginning. Addiction inevitably takes its toll on every relationship an addict has. Friends and family members often experience feelings of abandonment, anxiety, anger, embarrassment and guilt. To cope with these feelings, they will typically withdraw from the substance abuser.
People who abuse substances are likely to find themselves increasingly isolated
The sense of despair that this isolation from people who could be helpful can create often exacerbates an addict’s dire situation. It is not at all uncommon for the afflicted to find themselves associating exclusively with others who abuse substances or who in some way enable it. These associations do little more than support and reinforce addictive behavior. Addiction is a complex brain disease in which a compulsive desire to use continues even in the face of overwhelmingly negative consequences. What starts as a person making a voluntary choice to use gradually evolves into a situation where the brain tells the body the person no longer has a choice. Prolonged substance abuse short circuits those parts of the brain that govern reward and motivation, learning and memory, and the ability to inhibit harmful behaviors. At some point, the person is literally no longer himself.
The societal toll is also enormous
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the abuse of substances, both legal and illegal, has an economic drag on society of $67 billion per year. This includes costs related to crime, drug abuse treatment, medical costs, time lost from work and funds expended on social welfare programs. Substance abuse leads to the kind of impaired reasoning that results in an increased likelihood of criminal activity. Addicts have a much higher likelihood of committing crimes than others. Scientific advances, particularly in the area of understanding the genetic influences that lead to addiction, are promising. Still, as is nearly always the case when one is dealing with an affliction that has a physiological basis, medical advances can be painstakingly elusive. Fortunately, addiction can be effectively treated, and high quality rehabilitation services are available to anyone suffering from an addiction. It is more than worthy of note, however, that most people suffering from addiction require long-term care to achieve the ultimate goal of a lasting recover. The effects of addiction can be devastating, if you or a loved one need help overcoming addiction, give us a call.