The Effects Of Drug And Alcohol Abuse


People often turn to drugs and alcohol for an easy escape from reality: A few drinks to take their mind off a rough day at work, a few pills to get a fleeting sense of euphoria in an otherwise stressful world. But what may seem like a fast, effective way to get away from uncomfortable feelings is really only a temporary solution, and one that can lead to far more pain in the long run.

The negative effects of drug and alcohol abuse linger long after the high wears off. From short-term side effects to long-term irreversible damage, addiction impacts every part of a person’s life – and sometimes, the consequences can be deadly. It's important to recognize drug abuse symptoms in friends and loved ones. 

Drug and alcohol abuse: it’s risky business

Doing drugs or drinking alcohol can significantly lower your inhibitions. That’s because they target the brain’s reward center by flooding it with dopamine – also known as “the feel-good chemical.” When the brain is overloaded with dopamine, decision-making abilities become severely impaired. Poor judgment leads to risky behavior, and that can put you in serious danger.

A single bad decision fueled by drugs or alcohol can ruin the rest of your life. According to the National Institute of Health, over one million emergency room visits per year involve an illicit drug, and close to five million involve alcohol consumption. These visits include treatment for accidents, injuries, physical illness, and even death, and almost all of them were completely preventable.

The long-term consequences of substance abuse

Those who’ve managed to avoid a major catastrophe while drunk or high may continue abusing drugs and alcohol undeterred. But as tolerance builds, so does dependency. Eventually, you’ll need to consume larger quantities of drugs or alcohol in order to achieve the same euphoric feelings. Abstinence causes withdrawal, and suddenly, you’re caught in the midst of a full-blown addiction cycle.

Over time, substance abuse slowly chips away at:

  • Your health. Drugs and alcohol can cause permanent physical damage to your internal organs, including your heart, your liver, and your brain. The risk of stroke and life-threatening infection also increase dramatically.

  • Your sanity. Addiction leads to serious behavioral problems, including paranoia, aggression, and impulsivity. It can also lead to lasting changes in the function of your brain, permanently altering your brain chemistry and damaging your memory.

  • Your relationships. Consistent poor decision-making can have a devastating effect on your relationships, isolating you from friends and family members.

  • Your finances. Addiction often interferes with performance at work, and many addicts suffer job losses from their inability to focus and complete assignments. The constant struggle to pay for drugs and alcohol can eventually lead to financial ruin.

Signs of substance abuse

If you suspect you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, here are some alcohol and drug abuse symptoms to look out for:

  • Secrecy

  • Isolation

  • Wild mood swings

  • Drastic weight loss

  • Random injuries or frequent illness

  • Lethargy

  • Anxiety or paranoia

Fortunately, even though the effects of drug and alcohol abuse are far-reaching, addiction is a highly treatable condition. With proper detox and comprehensive rehabilitation, you can begin to rebuild your life without the destructive influence of substance abuse.

Alvarado Parkway Institute can help you get your life back

As a leading provider of addiction treatment in San Diego for over thirty-five years, Alvarado Parkway Institute has helped countless people overcome drug addiction and alcohol dependency. With a safe detox program, individual and group therapies, and a team of expert physicians and health professionals at the ready, we can help you develop the strength and skills you need to stop the cycle of addiction and to start making healthy decisions for a healthy life.

Recovery is possible. Call us at (619) 667-6125