Despite the extreme psychological damage drug use can cause, it can have an equally severe physiological impact as well. The consequences are both long term and short and have varying degrees of severity. However, if sustained over a long period, substance use can potentially cause irreversible physical health issues. Although each person has different physiological responses, there are several common conditions associated with substance use disorder. These include damage to the central nervous system, cardiovascular disease, organ damage, and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/ Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), among others.
Damage to the Central Nervous System
Although substances impact varying parts of the body, all drug use can cause catastrophic damage to the nervous system. It has been reported that prolonged use of stimulants can lead to hypertension as well as cardiac issues. Excessive alcohol use can cause damage to the cerebellum causing difficulties with movement and varying aspects of cognition. Seizures can also occur with the use of stimulants, especially cocaine, and even take place as a result of alcohol withdrawal.
Those who use heroin and prescription painkillers can cause irreversible damage to the white matter in the brain impacting behavior regulation, stress management, and the ability to make decisions. Research studies also showed that those who use meth were also three times more likely to develop Parkinson’s disease over non-drug users.
Substance use is one of the leading risk factors when examining the development of the cardiovascular disease. Stimulant drugs such as cocaine, meth, and amphetamine have been identified as substances that increase the risk of these disorders. Illicit drugs block or constrict arteries making it difficult for blood to flow properly to the heart and increasing blood pressure. The primary conditions associated with substance use disorder include arrhythmias, cardiac arrest, stroke, high blood pressure, heart attack, and heart failure. Often, these complications are interconnected causing the overall health to deteriorate at a faster rate.
Substance use has significant impacts on the organ systems within the human body. In addition to the central nervous and cardiovascular systems, respiratory, digestive, and excretory systems are heavily impacted as well. For example, drugs that are “snorted”, or forcefully inhaled into the nasal cavity, can cause serious infection and tissue death of the nasal linings and sinuses. Drugs that can cause substantial organ damage include, but are not limited to, alcohol, heroin, steroids, cocaine, inhalants, ecstasy, and methamphetamine.
The lungs are at very high risk for wide-spread respiratory damage as a result of illicit drug use as well. Pulmonary infections are caused by viruses, bacteria, or foreign entities being present in the lungs. The physical effects on an individual’s lungs come mainly from the inhalation of smoke, vapor, fumes, or some sort of powder. Individuals often experience blocked air from entering the lungs, increasing symptoms of asthma, pulmonary hemorrhaging, and possible bleeding from the lungs.
Drugs that can cause substantial organ damage include, but are not limited to, alcohol, heroin, steroids, cocaine, inhalants, ecstasy, and methamphetamine.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/ Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
Both HIV and AIDS are life-threatening diseases that damage an individual’s immune system and decrease the body’s ability to fight infection or disease. Substance abuse can play a significant role in HIV/AIDS infection and progression. The likelihood of contracting HIV/AIDS is significantly higher through drug use through exposure by sharing needles/syringe or as a result of high-risk sexual behavior. In 2015, Arizona experienced 778 new HIV cases with 12.4% of men and 22.5% of women reporting injected drug use (IDU), respectively. Drugs that are commonly injected include:
- prescription stimulants
Drug and Alcohol Treatment for Conditions Associated with Substance Use Disorder
Despite its beautiful landscape, Arizona’s charm is being shrouded by its drug use epidemic. In the past decade, it has been listed among the top ten states for illicit drug use. In 2011, Arizona also reported having 9.52% of its residents using illicit drugs every month, surpassing the national average of 8.82%. In 2018, Arizona’s drug overdose mortality rate was 23.85% for those between the ages of 23 and 34. Some of the most commonly used illicit drugs leading to drug overdose in Arizona include methamphetamines, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, and opioids.
Treatment centers like Soul Surgery Rehabilitation are the cornerstone to achieving long term freedom from addiction. Soul Surgery provides a stable environment while effectively removing the conditions and influences that fueled the addiction. Individuals are provided a team of supportive professionals to guide their progress and allowed learning about addiction, how to overcome it, and how to maintain sobriety. Additionally, clients have increased success in battling addiction when they invest in onsite rehabilitation at our facility in Phoenix, AZ.
Thankfully, there is treatment available for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. At Soul Surgery Rehabilitation we recognize that our clients are more than their addiction and that recovery is a process different for each individual. Our team of experienced professionals works closely with clients to provide a treatment approach to support each person in their rehabilitation. We offer several services to ensure that you receive support at any step in your journey. These include:
- Outpatient treatment
- Sober living programs
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Mental health treatment
- Dual diagnosis treatment
At Soul Surgery Rehabilitation, we are passionate about providing our clients with the tools to overcome your addiction to move forward in achieving long-lasting sobriety. Contact us today to get started.
 NIDA. (2020, March 26). Commonly Used Drugs Charts. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/drugs-abuse/commonly-used-drugs-charts on 2020, April 10.
 Stockwell, T., N., & Peters, T. (2001). International Handbook of Alcohol Dependence and Problems. Chester, United Kingdom: John Wiley and Sons
 2018 NSDUH Detailed Tables. (2019, August). Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2018-nsduh-detailed-tables
 NIDA. (2019). Drug Use and Viral Infections (HIV, Hepatitis). Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drug-facts/drug-use-viral-infections-hiv-hepatitis on 2020, April 10.
 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the Surgeon General, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. Washington, DC: HHS, November 2016.
 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2018). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and HealthRockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/