Long Term Drug Abuse Effects on the Body


Long Term Drug Abuse Effects on the Body

Drug abuse has very many lasting effects on the human body.

Depending on the drug itself and, often, the amount of time for which the drug is used, there are different long-term effects on the human body that can lead to disease, hospitalization, and even death.


Knowing the effects drug abuse has on the body is very important, especially the ones that can continue throughout a person's life.

Is Drug Abuse a Mental Disease?

According to The National Institute on Drug Abuse, "drug addiction is a brain disease." A person may begin taking drugs voluntarily, but sometimes even after one use, the drug starts its work on the brain. Addictive drugs "alter gene expression and brain circuitry, which in turn affect human behavior." This is one of the primary and more disquieting effects of drug abuse. The brain is altered on a molecular level and causes an individual to act differently, craving more of the drug. He or she will develop a tolerance for it which will make larger doses of the drug necessary in order to feed the habit. This effect is what leads to addiction and what also explains why it becomes so hard to stop taking drugs once a person has started.

Drug Abuse Health Risks

There are many health risks associated with drug abuse. Some do not appear right away but later in life, sometimes even after a person has recovered or been treated for drug addiction and abuse. Even after quitting use of the drug, many people still run into complications later on from previous drug abuse.

The National Library of Medicine lists some of the possible health risks and negative effects on the body that are associated with the abuse of certain drugs. They are:

  • Infection by the Sharing of Needles (Heroin, Opium)
  • Cancer (Steroids)
  • Bacterial Endocarditis (Recreational Drugs)
  • Respiratory Infections and Complications (Cocaine)
  • Pulmonary Emboli (Injection Drugs)
  • Thrombophlebitis (Intravenous Drugs)

Long-Term Health Risks Associated with Drug Abuse

  • Collapsed Veins (Heroin)
  • Liver Damage (Steroids, Alcohol, Methamphetamine)
  • HIV and Hepatitis (Methamphetamine, Inhalants, Heroin)
  • Arthritis (Heroin, Opium)

Mental Effects Associated with Drug Abuse

Drugs not only cause the brain to function differently due to addiction. Many cause other lasting effects on the mental processes. Marijuana has been linked to long-term depression. Drugs, like cocaine and prescription stimulants like Amphetamine when abused, can cause paranoia that doesn't leave the individual once the drug is gone from his or her system. Methamphetamine, when abused, can cause memory loss and can impair cognitive thought in the long-term. Cocaine even reduces the brain's glucose metabolism which can be measured to determine the amount of activity the brain cells have. According to the National Institute of Health, "the changes that cocaine causes in the brain last much longer than the pleasurable feelings it produces."

Drug abuse takes its toll on the body, and it does not stop when the drugs leave a person's system. The abuse has a lasting effect on the mental and physical wellbeing of the user, sometimes even after one use. Acute and persistent use of drugs will very often effect the body in the long-term.

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