Addiction is a chronic neurological disorder that causes a person to compulsively use harmful substances that cause physical and psychological dependency. The causes of addiction are not completely understood but have been found to involve changes in the way the brain’s learning, memory, and reward systems work. A person’s environmental and social context are also big contributors to the development of an addiction.
Alcohol addiction, commonly called alcoholism, is the most well-known form of substance addiction, but other widely-abused substances include opioid painkillers, stimulants such as methamphetamine and cocaine, and anxiety-reducing drugs like alprazolam.
What are the Ramifications of Addiction?
The ramifications of addiction are wide-ranging and often catastrophic, but to understand how some of these consequences come about, it’s important to know that addiction and alcoholism are progressive disorders that produce tolerance and dependence.
When a person develops tolerance to their drug or drugs of choice, they will require an ever-increasing amount of the drug to get the same effect as their initial dosages provided. That means an addicted person will spend more and more money on drugs. This escalates the physical, psychological, and personal damage they’re accumulating.
When a person has become drug dependent, their body has come to rely on having that substance in their system at all times. Without their substance of choice, an alcoholic or addict will experience withdrawal, a painful, sometimes dangerous condition that requires medical intervention.
It is the combination of drug tolerance and drug dependence that causes the negative ramifications of addiction to spiral out of control, leading to the following consequences of addiction:
Legal issues– The legal consequences of addiction may stem from buying or possessing illegal substances to indirect legal issues from things like traffic violations, such as DUI/DWI, to lawsuits and legal charges from the actions a person carries out while under the influence of intoxicating substances, including causing damage to property or injury to other people.
Marital issues– Lying and deceptive behaviors are common for a person struggling with addiction, which destroys trust in a marriage. Getting and using their drug of choice becomes the center of an addict’s world and everyone else gets pushed to the side
Financial issues– People in the grip of addiction will eventually spend most or all of their money on drugs. Addictive substances aren’t cheap, and as a person’s need for drugs or alcohol increases, their money woes increase far past their wallet’s breaking point.
Debt-Spending money on drugs or alcohol rapidly drains a person’s financial resources, causing them to run up debt. Debt from alcohol use or drug addiction can easily wreck a person’s ability to pay critical bills, such as their rent or mortgage, utilities, and so forth.
Homelessness-Addicts exhaust all their financial resources and alienate people who might otherwise be inclined to help them. They lose family, friends, and every semblance of a support system. With such a lack of resources, people have no one to turn to for help when they can’t pay their rent or mortgage. Many homeless persons are suffering from alcoholism or addiction and living homeless on the streets is where many addicts hit rock bottom.
Health complications– The health problems caused by addiction are extensive and severe, affecting a person both directly and indirectly. Direct effects result from the impact an addictive substance has on a person’s body; indirect effects include things like injuries sustained from a fall or car accident while intoxicated.
- High blood pressure: Alcohol addiction is known to cause high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases.
- Neurological damage: A person’s brain suffers heavy damage from addiction or alcoholism. All addictive substances work directly on brain tissue and cause changes in the way nerves, both individually and in the living circuits that are responsible for our emotions, perceptions, and thoughts.
- Mental health: Many people begin abusing substances in an attempt to self-medicate their anxiety or depression. Any relief drug abuse brings is brief and sooner rather than later will begin to make psychological disorders much worse.
- Overdose: In 2021, over 100,000 Americans died from drug overdoses. Overdose deaths are most common in opioid abuse, including drugs such as heroin and fentanyl, but cocaine and alcohol are also responsible for overdose deaths.
- Transmissible illnesses: When people abuse IV substances and share needles, they open themselves up to many infectious diseases, like hepatitis and HIV, among others.
- Injuries: Alcoholics and addicts are at an elevated risk for at-home accidents, as well as injuries at work and auto accidents.
- Organ and tissue damage: Some substances can cause long-term damage to a person’s organs and tissues. Alcoholics are at risk for liver damage; people who abuse cocaine may experience damage to the nasal septum, as well as life-long cardiac problems. People who become dependent on opioid painkillers are at risk of opioid-induced constipation, which can be fatal.
Is it Possible to Use Without Negative Consequences?
Using without devastating negative consequences is possible only for a brief time. Even sporadic “recreational” drug use or “social drinking” can lead to a disastrous outcome. Consider how many people are harmed or killed by drunk driving.
Treatment Questions Answered
How do I know if I need treatment?
If your use of a substance or alcohol is negatively affecting your daily life, you will benefit from treatment.
Is treatment a cure for addiction?
There are no known cures for addiction, but with treatment, addiction will go into remission; that is, a person will be able to live the life they want without addictive substances.
Do I need detox?
Most addictive substances, including alcohol, opioids (painkillers), and tranquilizers (benzodiazepines) require medical detox.
What Kind of Treatment is the Right Choice?
A person’s unique needs determine which treatment is right for them. That includes the type of substance they’ve been using, how long they’ve been living with addiction, and whether or not they have any co-occurring physical or psychological conditions. There are different kinds of treatment for addiction, including medical detox, residential treatment, outpatient care, partial hospitalization, family counseling, and individual counseling.
Next Steps in Becoming Healthier
If you’re concerned you or a loved one may have an addiction problem, Agape Treatment Center in Fort Lauderdale is available to help. Please give us a call—we are ready to help around the clock, every day of the week. Our admissions counselors will work with you in determining your treatment options, how to cover the cost of treatment and set up a date and a time for intake.