Understanding the Impact of Drug Addiction on Mental and Physical Health

By  //  December 14, 2022

Addiction is an illness that doesn’t discriminate. It affects people from all walks of life, all genders, and races. Each year, more than 22 million Americans are in recovery from experiencing some form of drug or alcohol addiction.

An addiction can negatively affect your mental health as well as your physical health. And it’s essential to understand how these two areas are affected by addiction so you can seek help if needed. 

This article will discuss the types of drugs that lead to addiction, how they affect mental and physical health, and how treatment options work if you seek recovery services.

Drugs That Can Lead to Addiction

You may think that because you’re not abusing prescription painkillers or heroin, your drug dependence is less severe. But even if you’re just marijuana dependent, seeking treatment is still crucial. Drugs like alcohol and cocaine can quickly and easily lead to addiction and can also be physically dangerous in the long term.

For example, a study by Samsha.gov reported that around 58.7% of Americans aged 12 and older consumed alcohol, drug, or tobacco in the past month of the survey. While you may think it’s only alcohol, 22.2% of the respondents were binge alcohol users.

Besides alcohol and tobacco, drugs such as K2, bath salts, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, hypnotics, meth, club drugs, and inhalants can all lead to drug addiction. These substances can have a powerful effect on the body and mind and, when used regularly, can lead to physical and psychological dependence.

Drug addiction can have serious and long-lasting effects on a person’s life, including physical health, mental health, relationships, and financial stability. It is essential to be aware of the risks associated with drug use and to seek help if needed.

Impact of Drug Addiction on Mental Health

Drug addiction can lead to psychological dependence. Psychological dependence occurs when a person takes drugs to avoid negative consequences and cravings instead of using drugs for pleasure or other reasons. 

A person can become psychologically dependent on a drug without being physically dependent. Data shows that around 43% of people taking substance use disorder treatment have some symptoms of mental health problems.

Psychological dependence is associated with cognitive impairment, memory impairment, impaired judgment, and impulsivity. People who have been psychologically dependent on drugs often experience depression and anxiety as they try to stop or reduce their drug use. 

They may also suffer from chronic pain if they are addicted to opiates such as heroin or prescription pain relievers like codeine hydrochloride.

If you want to prevent the impact of drug abuse on your mental health, it is wise to connect with a therapist. A therapist can help you understand how the drugs affect your body and mind so that you can make better decisions about your health. They may also help you find ways to reduce or stop using drugs altogether.

However, not all therapists are the same. Hence, you should try to find a therapist who is right for you.

For example, if you want help with substance abuse problems, find a therapist specializing in this area. You can search “find a therapist near me” on the internet, ask friends and family for recommendations, or look online for reviews to find an excellent therapist in your locality.

Impact of Drug Addiction on Physical Health

Drug addiction can have many physical effects. When someone becomes dependent on drugs, the body adapts to functioning with the substance and may be unable to function normally without it.

For example, heroin addiction causes constipation and may lead to bowel obstruction if not treated. 

There are also serious health risks associated with long-term drug use, including the following:

■ Liver damage: Heroin and other opioids destroy liver cells. Acetaminophen overdose can cause liver failure even when taken as prescribed by a doctor due to its high toxicity level. A study published on the NCBI website shows a strong relationship between smoking, alcohol, and inhaled opium with liver enzymes, leading to liver damage. However, oral opium didn’t have any major significance in the behavior of liver enzymes.

■ Respiratory problems: Inhaling smoke from cigarettes or marijuana leads to acute respiratory illnesses like bronchitis or pneumonia. Smoking crack cocaine can cause severe asthma attacks, and inhaling powdered cocaine mixed with baking soda causes chronic nosebleeds because it dries out soft tissues in the nose over time.

■ Heart disease: Heavy cocaine use has been linked with heart attacks and stroke-related brain damage in people who continue using despite signs of heart disease, such as chest pain or shortness of breath during exercise. As published in an article on the NCBI website, drug abuse can result in youths’ early onset of cardiovascular problems.

How to Treat Drug Addiction?

Getting help is essential to treat drug addiction. Drug addiction is a complex condition requiring professional treatment, which can come in therapy or medication. The good news is that several effective drug abuse and addiction treatments exist.

The best way to find a program that works for your needs is by talking with your doctor about what kind of treatment you need and what will be most effective. He or she can also refer you to someone who specializes in treating drug abuse and addiction.

Whether it’s an outpatient or an intensive residential one, therapy programs usually involve group meetings where participants share their experiences and learn from each other’s mistakes, as well as individual sessions where counselors work with clients on specific issues related to their struggles with drugs. 

It may also include daily check-ins with staff members at rehab centers where staff members will ask questions like “How did today go?”, “Did anything happen today that made things harder than usual?”, “How are we going about this challenge together?” etc., so they can adjust their approach accordingly if needed before moving forward towards recovery goals.


Drug addiction is a severe issue that can have lasting effects on both mental and physical health. If you’re struggling with drug addiction or know someone who is, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Many treatment options available today can help you get back on track with your life and regain control of your health.