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Consequences of Addiction

picture of Joe Gilmore
Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

February 28, 2021 (Originally Published)

November 16, 2023 (Last Updated)

Table of Contents

The consequences of addiction go far beyond things like strained relationships and health risks. In fact, studies show how addiction leads to all sorts of unsavory consequences. The addiction epidemic remains the root of the crisis with no meaningful end in sight. Even in 2010, well before the opioid epidemic, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development reported that more than half of the homeless population was either in the throes of addiction, mentally ill or both.

Homelessness From Addiction

It is a tragedy that one of the consequences of addiction is often homelessness, and often these things go hand in hand. At a growing rate more people that suffer from addiction find their mental state deteriorating and them having to live on the streets. Addiciton to drugs and alcohol can be extremely pervasive and can change the reward systems in our brain that often cause those with extreme addiction to forgo their livelihoods and basic necessities to continue their substance abuse.

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Consequences of Addiction

38% of homeless people are alcohol dependent, and 26% are dependent on other harmful chemicals.

The National Coalition for the Homeless

Health Considerations From Substance Abuse

The health considerations are many. Addiction leads to serious long-term effects including organ damage and weakened immunity. In addition to the numerous mental health issues that spring up as a result of long-term drug addiction, there are also a number of issues affecting the physical health of the individual who is abusing drugs over a sustained period of time. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), long-term drug abuse can affect:

  • The kidneys. The human kidney can be damaged both directly and indirectly by habitual drug use over a period of many years. Abusing certain substances can cause dehydration, muscle breakdown, and increased body temperature—all of which contribute to kidney damage over time. Kidney failure is not uncommon among long-time users of heroin, MDMA, ketamine, and other dangerous drugs.
  • The liver. Liver failure is a well-known consequence of alcoholism, but it also can occur with individuals using opioids, steroids, inhalants, or DXM habitually over many years. The liver is important for clearing toxins from the bloodstream, and chronic substance abuse can overwork this vital organ, leading to damage from chronic inflammation, scarring, tissue necrosis, and even cancer, in some instances. The liver may be even more at risk when multiple substances are used in combination.
  • The heart. Many drugs have the potential to cause cardiovascular issues, which can range from increased heart rate and blood pressure to aberrant cardiac rhythms and myocardial infarction (i.e., heart attack). Injection drug users are also at risk of collapsed veins and bacterial infections in the bloodstream or heart.
  • The lungs. The respiratory system can suffer damage related to smoking or inhaling drugs, such as marijuana and crack cocaine. In addition to this kind of direct damage, drugs that slow a person’s breathing, such as heroin or prescription opioids, can cause serious complications for the user.

Tolerance is dangerous as it causes the individual to use more and more of a drug in order to achieve the desired euphoric or stimulated state. This puts the individual at an elevated risk for overdose and even death. In addition, yolerance to pain medications can have debilitating effects later in life

Consequences of Addiction Can Be Minimized if Caught Early

Addiction will manifest itself in harmful ways within our relationships, social life, work life, and mental health. Often times if you notice the early onset of addiction you can prevent the consequences of addiciton from reaching levels that are life altering. Stoping the addiction early on no only will benefit you physically not allowing your body to continue to be dependent but also socially and mentally and can allow you to focus on personal growth.

Finding Treatment To Stop the Consequences Of Addiction

Our addiction treatment centers offer an array of treatment modalities that can treat all aspects of the person and help you improve your life after recovery. Our evidence based treatment methods along side therapies and holistic approaches to overall wellness treat the entire person and promote lasting recovery both emotionally, physically, and socially. If you want to start you recovery journey you can call our treatment center today and schedule to meet with our admissions team.



At Renaissance Recovery our goal is to provide evidence-based treatment to as many individuals as possible. Give us a call today to verify your insurance coverage or to learn more about paying for addiction treatment.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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