Far too often, people take part in recreational activities without considering the possible consequences. Substance abuse is just one of many examples of this. The abuse of medications, both prescription and illicit, can lead to serious health consequences. These physical and psychological medical conditions are often hazardous and may not necessarily cease when the drug is no longer used. In some cases, drug-related medical conditions may even be permanent.
Health Effects of Prescription Drug Abuse
There are several medical conditions that can arise from the abuse of prescription medications. The risks associated with these drugs are specific to which medication is being used. According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), prescription painkillers were the most commonly abused prescription drugs, with over five million people abusing them for nonmedical purposes. Opioids are a frequently abused class of painkillers that can lead to other hazardous medical conditions. The International Association for the Study of Pain reports that opioid use may lead to problems like constipation, vomiting, and respiratory depression. Constipation is a large concern that could eventually cause bowel perforation, a condition where hardened feces puncture the intestinal wall, allowing its contents to escape into the abdominal cavity. Ultimately, severe infections may result.
According to the NSDUH, sedatives and tranquilizers are the second most commonly abused prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons. These drugs include barbiturates and benzodiazepines, which are abused to produce intoxication similar to that of alcohol. The abuse of sedatives and tranquilizers can lead to physical and mental health conditions. Mental depression is a common effect of these drugs and may even cause suicidal tendencies. Phobias, aggressiveness, and violent behavior might also occur alongside depression. Though these effects are most often noted while the drugs are in use, they might also occur after the drugs have been discontinued. Many people find that their depression and irritability are particularly noticeable at the start of withdrawal.
Health Effects of Illicit Drug Abuse
One of the greatest concerns of illicit drug use is the possibility of needle-acquired infections. Many illicit drugs are purchased to be used for quick intoxication. Injection is considered to be one of the fastest acting methods of drug administration and is, for this reason, an appealing method for illicit drug users. Many drugs may be used by injection, including heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine. Though injecting drugs produces quick effects, it can be incredibly hazardous, especially if proper techniques are not used. When needles are used that are not sterilized, drug users risk acquiring human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). These viral infections can cause permanent damage to the body. In addition, many people who inject drugs fail to safely dispose of their used needles. This creates a risk for others who may accidentally become stuck by the used needle.
Get Help for Prescription or Illicit Drug Addiction
The use of drugs, either prescription or illicit, can result in several different physical and psychological conditions. For that reason, addiction treatment may be necessary to prevent medical consequences. If you or a loved one has developed an addiction to prescription or illicit drugs, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions you might have about treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.