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Does Substance Abuse Have Permanent Side Effects?

Does Substance Abuse Have Permanent Side Effects?Drug abuse is not harmless. Even short-term use can have long-term effects, and these effects can harm the user and those closest to him or her.

The Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Abusing alcohol in your teen or young adult years can have a permanent effect on bone development. According to The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “chronic heavy drinking, particularly during adolescence and the young adult years, can dramatically compromise bone quality and may increase osteoporosis risk…the effects of heavy alcohol use on bone cannot be reversed, even if alcohol consumption is terminated” (“Alcohol and Other Factors Affecting Osteoporosis Risk in Women”). Drinking is also closely related to liver damage and disease, two irreversible medical conditions.

Even if you do not experience permanent effects of alcohol abuse first hand, alcohol consumption during pregnancy greatly increases the risk of birth defects. This creates permanent effects on an individual with no choice or power over the situation. Children born with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) experience a range of symptoms that may include the following:

  • Abnormal facial features
  • Small head or body size
  • Poor coordination
  • Hyperactivity
  • Learning disabilities
  • Delayed speech
  • Poor judgment skills
  • Vision or hearing problems
  • Heart, kidney or bone problems

These effects are permanent and lifelong, and greatly impact a child’s quality of life and ability to develop and learn.

The Effects of Prescription Drug Abuse

Misusing prescription drugs always increases the chance of overdose or harmful drug interactions. These can be fatal or can leave users with permanent organ or cognitive damage. Prescription stimulants like Adderall and Ritalin can permanently damage blood vessels, creating high blood pressure and increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

The Effects of Recreational Drug Abuse

Drugs often mistaken as physically harmless can have serious and permanent side effects. Marijuana has an immediate effect on memory, an effect that is typically short-lived although not without the possibility for academic, personal or professional consequences. And long-term marijuana use can lead to serious and permanent cognitive damage. LSD abuse can lead to permanent issues with anxiety and paranoia, and hallucinogen use may lead to the development of hallucinogen persisting perception disorder (HPPD). HPPD may involve flashbacks, false perceptions or the reoccurrence of other hallucinogen-related perceptual changes long after drug use has ceased. This disorder interrupts daily life and can have a permanent effect on an individual’s ability to function, develop relationships or maintain employment.

Ending the Effects of Substance Abuse

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, get help before it is too late. Drug abuse and addiction have long-term and far-reaching effects, and the only way to end the disease of addiction is to get professional treatment. Call our toll-free helpline to learn about your options for intervention, treatment and recovery. We are here for you 24 hours a day, so there is no wrong time to put an end to the effects of addiction.

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