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What are the Effects of Addiction?

By Christina Edwards
Updated Feb 28, 2024
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Addiction can impact almost all aspects of a person's life. Drug and alcohol addiction, for example, will often have detrimental effects on a person's physical and mental health, and could possibly lead to serious medical conditions. Other effects of addiction include strained relationships, economic hardships, and problems with the law.

Physical problems caused by addiction to drugs or alcohol usually include damage to most of the body's major organs, including the heart, lungs, and brain. A drug addict who uses needles to inject a drug is also at a higher risk of contracting HIV or AIDS. Also, an alcoholic who drinks many years has a high risk of developing cirrhosis of the liver. Other physical effects of addiction include malnutrition, weight loss or gain, and a reduced immunity.

Addictions also impact a person's mental capacity in many cases. As the addiction progresses, especially with drugs and alcohol, an addict will need more drugs or alcohol to be content. Some studies also show that prolonged use of alcohol and drugs may alter a person's brain chemistry, leading to unusual behavior.

The violent outbursts that many addicts experience either while they are under the influence or when they are going through withdrawal often lead to negative social effects of addiction. Some addicts may also be extremely secretive, trying to hide their addiction from loved ones. This behavior can lead to family and friends feeling alienated or suspicious. Other times, an addict may borrow money constantly, or even go as far as stealing money from his loved ones.

The economic effects of addiction can be very severe as well. For example, a gambling addiction can cause a person to lose large amounts of money at a single time. Many drugs can also cause a user to have difficulty concentrating, or it could cause him to miss work. Poor performance at a job could lead to being fired, leading to an even worse economic situation.

On top of many of the other adverse effects of addiction, jail time and hefty fines are also possible consequences. For example, driving while under the influence of alcohol will often result in expensive fines, and jail time as well. Being caught under the influence of illegal drugs, or even possessing illegal drugs can result in the same circumstances. A criminal record for drugs will also usually prevent a person from getting a good job, or other desired position.

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Discussion Comments
By serenesurface — On Dec 03, 2013

Aside from serious health problems, the worst effect of addiction must be that it breaks homes. I volunteer at a rehabilitation center for drug abuse treatment and most of the people there have lost the support of their loved ones because of their addiction.

An addict's family and friends eventually distance themselves regardless of how supportive they may be because an addict's behavior becomes very harmful. An addict may verbally and physically abuse close ones, steal their belongings and money and may constantly lie. This is not because they were or are bad people. It's because drug abuse changes their personality and behavior. But it is possible to go back to normal with rehabilitation.

By bluedolphin — On Dec 03, 2013

@donasmrs-- That's because addictive substances change how neurotransmitters in the brain function. They either block their function or stimulate them. After a while, the brain becomes dependent on the drug to feel "well." The drug becomes the only source of dopamine for the brain because the brain stops its natural production of dopamine.

This is why drug users can become erratic when they can't use their drug. And this effect applies to all types of substance abuse. This is also why addictions are so difficult to overcome.

By donasmrs — On Dec 02, 2013

Why do addicts get angry and nervous when they can't get their drug or when they can't get it on time?

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