Many people already know how substance use, abuse, and addiction can bring many unpleasant effects and affect our mental and physical health. Drugs and alcohol not only alter a person’s mood, judgement, and memory, but with long-term use, they can cause other effects that many may not have considered. And while some of these effects may seem mild, they can be worrisome for a lot of people. Below, you can find some surprising effects drugs and alcohol have on the body.
4 Ways Alcohol Affects the Body
Alcohol is a widely used and abused substance and can create a slew of health problems when abused. While the general recommendation is 1 drink a day for women and 2 drinks per day for men, many go overboard and increase their risk of health problems and dependence. The following lists some unexpected ways alcohol can affect the body.
Long term heavy drinking affects brain chemistry and even the size of the brain. When the brain shrinks, people have difficulty learning, thinking, and recalling. As the control center of the body, when the brain shrinks, every body system is affected and makes it harder for the body to do the things we take for granted, such as maintaining a steady body temperature and control movement and balance.
The stomach is sensitive to alcohol and to compensate; it increases acid secretions. This uptick in digestive juices can cause ulcers in the stomach lining and heartburn. This change in digestion alters the whole digestive system and the normal speed of digestion and elimination, leading to abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, and/or constipation.
While many are under the guise that alcohol brings a sense of relaxation, the heart says a completely different story. Alcohol and hypertension (high blood pressure) go hand in hand and make the heart work harder. This can cause heart rhythm changes, saggy heart muscles, and poor circulation of blood through the body.
Alcohol abuse can make changes to the skin on the face. A person may look flushed, or you might see broken capillaries on the face. Long term use can also make the skin saggy, puffy, and age the overall appearance of the face.
4 Ways Drugs Affects the Body
Drug abuse and addiction can create a host of problems for people. And while we may be familiar with physical and behavioral changes, short- and long-term drug use can cause some unforeseen effects.
Molly, MDMA, or Ecstasy creates major psychoactive effects, and its stimulant effect can speed up body processes and constrict blood vessels, leading to an increase in body temperature. Overheating can become dangerous and cause dehydration, brain damage, and even death.
Methamphetamine use is often associated with face sores and tooth decay or loss. This class of drug can also cause delusions and hallucinations similar to schizophrenia. Known as Meth Psychosis, this psychotic disorder can involve all the senses and make persons see inanimate or living things that are not there, hear voices, feel bugs under the skin, smell the brain rotting, or taste poison in food. They may also show a fear of being harmed, believe someone is trying to control or brainwash them, or perceive events on the news or television show is about them.
Opioid use can disrupt hormone function, lower testosterone, and decrease libido and sex drive in men. This can lead to hypogonadism, a medical condition where the body produces little to no sex hormones and men may experience erectile dysfunction, bone loss, and infertility.
Research shows a link between heavy marijuana use and resistance to a variety of pharmaceuticals, such as general and local anesthetics and opioids. This higher tolerance requires higher doses of medications to ‘stay asleep’ during medical procedures or treat pain.
Short- and Long-Term Effects of Substance Abuse
Substance abuse can cause serious effects on the body and can affect the overall health of the body. From delusions and psychosis to damaging effects on the skin, drugs and alcohol can cause several surprising and damaging short- and long-term effects.