There are two main effects of prolonged substance abuse that impacts most users: declines in health and lifestyles.
The greatest health risk for long-term substance abusers is death.
However, there are a number of escalating health conditions and issues that can plague users of both drugs and alcohol.
Alcohol abuse leads to liver disease, kidney problems and other health conditions.
Depending on the drug that is being abused, users can end up having hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, cancer, stroke, heart attacks, seizures and coma from their abuse.
These issues can all be magnified from improper care and treatment, late diagnosis of disease and the inability to pay for care due to lack of finances and lack of adequate health insurance.
Additional health issues resulting from long-term drug use on the body include loss of teeth, skin problems, brain damage, low blood pressure, headaches and a host of psychological issues such as paranoia, anxiety, depression and erratic mood swings.
The psychological problems associated with long-term substance abuse harm the emotional health of abusers much like their physical health. Chronic depression results from needing more amounts of the substance of choice to achieve the feelings of euphoria that were initially achieved through abuse.
These individuals may become increasingly paranoid, especially if they have to engage in illegal or dangerous activities to obtain such substances.
Withdrawals and fears of not obtaining enough drugs or alcohol may make some individuals feel anxious about how they will get their next fix or find the privacy and time to abuse.
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Declines in Lifestyles
The greatest toil for substance abusers can take place within their quality of life. Prolonged substance abuse can have a profound impact on the lifestyles of affected individuals.
Abusers often lose their close friends and family. Addicts break trust with those who love them by stealing money or engaging in manipulative behaviors that cause emotional harm. Family and friends get tired of watching the users in their lives repeatedly choose drugs over them.
As users’ behaviors become more unpredictable and erratic, loved ones are pushed away. Often times these relationships end up beyond repair. As a result, substance abusers are often left without any friends or family support.
Many engage in domestic abuse or child abuse, which can cause them to lose custody of children and lead to measures that prevent them from engaging with family members.
Work and school lives suffer for abusers. As they become more involved and addicted to their substances of choice, they fail to care about the things that used to matter to them.
Students miss classes, get in trouble with teachers, stop studying for exams and completing assignments, get suspended and maybe even expelled and eventually drop out.
Working adults face a similar fate of chronic lateness, absenteeism, disciplinary action and termination.
Serious substance abuse can easily led to homelessness with loss of family life and loss of income, as individuals become more and more isolated and on their own.
They may get kicked out of their family homes or face eviction due to loss of income. Living on the streets or with random strangers or fellow users are situations that are unsafe and prone to situations in which such users could be victimized and prayed upon.
Many long-term substance abusers get caught up in legal problems. Some are in the legal system due to the use of illegal substances, but some are there due to traffic accidents, theft, assault and violence associated with the purchase of illegal drugs.
Repeat offenses can lead to incarceration and sometimes life-long sentences.