Consequences of drug addiction

Drug addiction leads to the disruption of the functioning of all body organs and systems. The speed at which severe consequences develop can be determined by both the type of drug and the individual’s initial health condition. Even good somatic health cannot protect against the consequences of using desomorphine or “Crocodil”:  it rapidly destroys organs and tissues, and in many cases, the addict dies just a few months after the start of use. 

Some drugs immediately destroy health, while others do not exert such a powerful influence but cause irreversible changes in the psyche. For instance, some researchers believe that the use of LSD does not lead to physical dependence but can be a cause of the development of severe mental disorders.

In most cases, drug addiction is associated with serious consequences for physical health and mental well-being. The most severe complication is a fatal outcome, and it is not always related to an overdose or the duration of drug use; no addict is immune from death. 

The consequences not only affect the person using the drugs but also their environment. Cognitive distortions, deviant behavior, psychoses, and much more pose a threat to all people around, especially to loved ones.

Physiological consequences of drug addiction 

Long-term and regular drug use inevitably leads to severe consequences for all organs and systems. Complications can be divided into two main groups: those related to the method of drug administration and those determined by the direct action of the drug substance. 

The most dangerous method of drug administration is considered to be injection. It can lead to the following consequences:

  • Infection with HIV, hepatitis C, and others;
  • Sepsis and gangrene;
  • Abscesses and necrosis;
  • Venous thrombosis.

Regarding the impact of drugs on organs and systems, the complications can be quite diverse. The primary targets for toxins and poisons are the brain and nervous system. It’s important to understand that neurological disorders are almost inevitable with the use of any drug, as the ultimate goal of drug use is to alter the function of the brain, seeking feelings of euphoria, relaxation, or, conversely, alertness, energy, hallucinations, etc. 

Organs responsible for neutralizing and eliminating toxins from the body work to their max, and as a result, drug addiction often leads to damage to the liver and kidneys. Since all drugs in one way or another affect the heart and blood vessels, it leads to the development of cardiovascular disorders. 

The individual’s ability to recover from addiction is influenced by their overall health. Some impairments are irreversible, while others may resolve upon drug cessation. Some can be corrected with medication and a healthy lifestyle. 

The most severe consequences include:

  • Heart attacks and strokes;
  • Malignant tumors;
  • Cirrhosis;
  • Tuberculosis;
  • Osteoporosis;
  • Infertility;
  • Wasting syndrome (severe weight loss), and more.

The specific consequences depend on the substance used. Those who use desomorphine may suffer from phlebitis, gangrene, which often necessitates limb amputation. Heroin users are at risk of developing heart failure, kidney and liver problems. 

The consequences of using methadone include toxic megacolon due to prolonged constipation, liver cirrhosis, thrombocytopenia, anorexia, and more. Cocaine users are prone to arrhythmias, myocardial infarctions, atherosclerosis, lung bleeding, pneumothorax, and other complications. 

Even seemingly harmless marijuana can lead to disruptions in immune function, infertility, hormonal disorders, and can be a cause of oral and throat cavity tumors.

One should not forget about the potential harm that can be inflicted on future children. If an addict retains fertility, drug use can lead to severe developmental defects, chromosomal mutations, and congenital deformities.

Physiological consequences of drug addiction also include withdrawal syndrome, which is experienced by almost every addict. It is accompanied by excruciating symptoms and can be life-threatening.

Psychological consequences of drug addiction 

Drugs become the cause of exacerbating pre-existing disorders and the formation of new ones. Changes in the psyche, as well as cognitive functions, can be irreversible, leading to a transformation of an individual’s personality. 

Drugs that induce a surge of strength and energy inevitably deplete the mind’s own resources. Others can directly or indirectly impact the brain, exerting harmful effects. Some consequences are associated with the toxic action of the substance, while others result from overall intoxication of the body, disruptions in brain blood supply, and vascular function. 

Common consequences are as follows:

  • Irritability, aggressiveness, and anger;
  • Lethargy, apathy, and drowsiness;
  • Development of neuroses;
  • Hallucinations, delusional thinking, jealousy delusions, etc.;
  • Paranoid tendencies;
  • Suicidal behavior;
  • Bipolar affective disorder;
  • Schizophrenia and schizophrenia-like disorders;
  • Depression.

Social consequences of drug addiction 

The social activity of a drug addict decreases. They temporarily lose their active role, refusing to participate in elections, community life, and even in a small work team. Over time, the person’s interests become concentrated only within a group of like-minded individuals who also use drugs.

The decrease in social activity can be explained by both the person’s unwillingness to take part in events and the fact that prosperous friends and acquaintances gradually distance themselves. The addict creates numerous difficulties for those around them, and their circle of interests inevitably narrows. The social environment also changes.


Individuals addicted to drugs often either lose their jobs or fail to find employment on time. If they continue to work, they may face characteristic difficulties: simple tasks become challenging, reaction times increase, and there’s a sense of either sluggishness or restlessness. Distraction, frequent tardiness or absences, memory difficulties, and comprehension of current tasks become problematic, and these and many other consequences can lead to dismissal.

The cause of job loss can also be the person’s aggressiveness and irritability. Employers may decide to terminate employment to maintain a normal atmosphere in the workplace or protect other employees. 

For positions that require extreme concentration, the decision to be relieved of work duties may be made even more swiftly. Moreover, some professions involve passing commissions and obtaining sanitary permits, which can also pose difficulties for an addict. 

Family and beloved ones

The personality of a drug addict changes, and they can become deceitful, manipulative, and use manipulation to serve their own needs, often targeting those with whom they have established trusting relationships—close family members. Spouses, parents, siblings, and sometimes even adult children experience all the tricks—pleading, persuasion, money extortion, and sometimes even theft of valuable items, threats, and blackmail. 

This can have a detrimental impact on the relationships between family members. Beloved ones shield themselves from this type of exploitation and sever ties, sometimes resorting to accusations, threats, or conflicts with the addict. Rebuilding the previous trust can be very challenging in the future.

Family institution

A drug-dependent individual may have their own family and may even create one after the start of drug use. However, experience shows that addicts prefer to cohabit with like-minded individuals, as otherwise, their partners may simply end the relationship. It is easier to obtain what they desire together, and couples develop common interests—limited to the narcotic substance and everything associated with it. 

Children may also be born into such families. However, as mentioned earlier, the state of physical health and regular poisoning of the body cannot fail to affect the health of the child. Drugs have mutagenic and toxic effects. Among the most common congenital disorders include:

  • Nervous system pathologies, from oligophrenia to anencephaly (absence of the brain, which inevitably leads to the infant’s death after birth);
  • Genetic anomalies, chromosomal mutations: Down syndrome, cat’s cry syndrome, and others;
  • Congenital deformities and developmental defects: cleft lip, cleft palate, microcephaly, and more. 

The concern of drug addiction in Russia 

In Russia, hundreds of clinics are engaged in the treatment of drug addiction. Most of them offer their patients detoxification therapy. It involves the removal of decay products and toxins and is considered a kind of “cleansing” of the blood. Indeed, no treatment method can be used without prior detoxification, withdrawal of abstinence, and improvement of a person’s physical well-being. However, it is important to understand that this is only the first stage on the path to recovery. 

The patient spends 10-14 days in the walls of a drug treatment clinic receiving intravenous treatments, and then returns home. Some of the consequences of drug use are alleviated: the well-being is satisfactory, and the condition is stable. But the root causes of the disease were not addressed, and the person quickly returns to their destructive habit, even if they had a strong intention not to do so. 

In Russia, you can also find centers that practice labor therapy as a method of treatment. Such an institution can be called a correctional facility. They do not use drugs there: as long as a person remains within the center’s walls, they stay clean. Can we be sure that they will remain that way after their release? Unfortunately, no, because labor alone as the only method for working with a person’s mindset is not capable of achieving the desired results, and labor therapy cannot replace qualified psychological assistance and psychotherapy. 

Advantages of seeking treatment at IsraRehab

At our clinic, we annually treat dozens of patients with varying stages of drug addiction. We are prepared to provide comprehensive assistance and pay special attention to rehabilitation and post-rehabilitation activities. For the families of those struggling with addiction, we offer consultations and group visits. 

IsraRehab employs experienced psychiatrists and addiction therapists, as well as psychologists, psychotherapists, and addiction counselors. Even after patients are discharged from the center, we maintain contact with them: each of them can receive qualified assistance over the phone or online. 

The rehabilitation program is tailored individually, and we utilize effective tools, including:

  • The “12-step” program
  • Art therapy
  • Gestalt therapy
  • Psychodrama
  • Individual psychological counseling
  • Group training sessions (communication skills development and more)
  • Transactional analysis, among others

Our patients reside in single and double rooms with enhanced comfort. Each room includes a bathroom, bathtub, air conditioning, and cable TV. The daily schedule not only involves sessions but also sports activities, visits to the gym, tennis or billiards games, walks, occasional trips to the sea, tours around Israel, and visits to the pool, and sauna. 

Destructive consequences of drug addiction can be avoided if you seek timely help. If your loved one is suffering from drug addiction, do not delay seeking assistance, please contact IsraRehab.

The article was verified by a practical psychologist

Psychology teacher,
art therapist

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